5 Birds

At Risk From Climate Change

The sign of a bird at sea can be considered a good omen, hope that you are close to shore, or company for a bit of your passage. For scientists, birds are often early indicators of environmental issues.

The National Audubon Society has found that when it comes to climate change, birds are once again being affected before many other animals. They identified 314 species of birds threatened by climate. We took a look at five of the birds that boaters often see to learn more about the challenges they're experiencing. 

On December 7th, leaders from over 190 countries and a total of 50,000 participants will gather in Paris for the COP21 (Conference of Parties). We are joining the Audubon Society to urge government leaders to keep global warming below 2°C by reaching a meaningful, legally binding and universal agreement on climate. Click here to add your voice!

puffin, flying, puffin with fish
Where are the fish? Puffin chicks have adapted to eat only a few types of fish. One of their favorites, white hake, is moving north and into deeper waters. This means puffin parents have to search farther to find food or bring back fish their young may not be able to eat. Since one puffling can eat more than 2,000 small fish before leaving the nest, the consequences add up. Photo credit: Victor/ Flickr
 

albatross, midway atoll, sea level rise
Soaking wet: Albatross’ nesting grounds on Midway Atoll are being flooded due to bigger storms and rising seas created by climate change. Scientists believe the seabirds' colonies will actually be submerged soon, and either tradition or stubbornness is preventing them from adapting. Photo credit: David Patte/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
 

Piping Plovers, baby Piping Plovers, Piping Plovers on the beach
Running out of space: Piping plovers are at risk due to rising seas. “They nest on this narrow fringe of habitat that’s going to get clobbered by sea-level rise,” said Nils Warnock, executive director of Audubon Alaska. Photo credit: Kaiti Titherington / USFWS
 

Double-Crested Cormorant
But I don't want to move north! The double-crested cormorant's summer range in northern U.S. and southern Canada is warming rapidly, forcing the birds to move farther north for cooler temperatures. By 2080, they will only have 21% of their current habitat left, and will be spending their summers in the boreal forest of Canada. Only time will tell if they can adapt to living and hunting in a new territory. Photo credit: Linda Tanner / Flickr
 

Hudsonian Godwit, Lake Erie, foraging bird,
It’s all about timing: In Manitoba, Canada, Hudsonian godwits are struggling because the birth of their young no longer coincides with the period of peak insect emergence. Photo credit: Dave Inman / Flickr

Want to learn more about the challenges created by climate change facing birds? Read the full article: Seabirds and Shorebirds at Risk from Climate Change

Don't forget to add your voice and let global leaders know that you want a meaningful global agreement on climate change at COP21!