Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Climate shift may force some state birds out of their states

The common loon, the state bird of Minnesota (Alamy photo)
The brown thrasher, the state bird of Georgia,
has a repertoire of more than 1,000 songs.
(Alamy photo by Dan Johnston)
"Each state in America has an official state bird, usually an iconic species that helps define the landscape," Brad Plumer reports for The New York Times. "But as the planet warms and birds across the country relocate to escape the heat, at least eight states could see their state birds largely or entirely disappear from within their borders during the summer, according to a new study."

Nearly 400 North American bird species—about two-thirds—will likely make a drastic shift in their ranges in the coming decades because of climate change, the National Audubon Society study predicts. Many will struggle to survive the shift to unfamiliar or shrinking habitats.

"If global temperatures rise a plausible 3 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels this century, Minnesota will no longer enjoy the local climate conditions that loons are accustomed to as they arrive each summer to breed and hunt for food, the study found," Plumer reports. "As a result, the birds may bypass the state altogether and head farther north."

Goldfinch, New Jersey (Alamy photo)
Audubon President David Yarnold said this is "one way we’ll see the effects of climate change right in our own backyards . . . If you’ve ever been around a lake in the upper United States, you can probably hear the sound of a loon in your head. It’s hard to imagine a Minnesota summer without them. It’s hard to imagine a New Jersey summer without goldfinches."

The study has a neat interactive map that shows you how birds in your state and even your ZIP code could be affected by the shift, as well as a map showing how some common bird species could be affected. Click here for more.

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