GLOBAL WARMING AND BIRDS
Global warming is the greatest threat to birds and other wildlife in human history. The rate of global warming is already impacting birds, their prey, and their habitat. Those impacts will become more severe over the coming decades, leading to the loss of one-quarter to one-third of all species on earth, including many bird species.
Although some amount of change is inevitable, we can still take steps to prevent the most dangerous impacts of global warming and begin to stabilize the climate again. In the meantime, conservation, especially of larger areas with migratory corridors and buffer zones; better control of invasive species; and adaptive management are critical to stem the loss of bird and wildlife species.
This loss will impact agriculture, forestry, public health, recreation, and hunting. The financial impact will be many billions of dollars annually.
Why Does Global Warming Matter for Birds?
Global warming impacts birds and wildlife in many ways. Birds and other wildlife will face habitat loss due to sea level rise, more frequent and severe wildfires, flooding and droughts, invasive species, changes in vegetation and precipitation, and loss of snow and ice, among others. Birds, like most species, are highly adapted to particular vegetation and habitat types.
To compensate for the warmer temperatures, the ranges of these habitats may move closer to the poles or higher elevations. Habitat types that cannot colonize new areas may rapidly decline or cease to exist. New pests, invasive species, and diseases will create additional risks. The timing of birds’ migration, reproduction, breeding, nesting, and hatching are all highly adapted to match specific local
conditions, such as the availability of suitable habitat and adequate food sources.
Since climate change will affect different species differently, bird behavior may no longer be in sync with their food sources and other habitat needs. For example, robins in the Rocky Mountains arrive an average of two weeks earlier in spring than they did a few decades ago, but the worms and other food that they eat are not yet available for their newly hatched offspring.
Is Global Warming Already Affecting Birds?
Scientists are already seeing alarming impacts of global warming on birds. More than 80% of plant and animal species studied have shown changes in the timing of migration or reproduction, shifts in habitat or migratory routes, or other changes associated with climate change. Some of the observed
impacts on birds include:
• Several North American warbler species have shifted northward more than 65 miles. The Golden-winged Warbler’s range has moved nearly 100 miles north just in the past two decades.
• Between 1971 and 1995, many British bird species began laying their eggs an average of nine days earlier each year. A dozen species in Great Britain have shifted their ranges an average of 12 miles northward in the past 20 years.
• On Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, 15 species—including the Rose-breasted Grosbeak and Black-throated Blue Warbler— are arriving up to 21 days earlier than in the 1960s.
• Adelie Penguins are taking longer routes to find food in the ocean as icebergs break off the Ross Ice Shelf.
Will Some Species or Habitat Types Be More Vulnerable than Others?
Birds that already live at high altitudes or latitudes may not be able to move with the changing climate. Endangered species with limited habitat or small gene pools may also not be able to adapt quickly enough to avoid extinction. Coastal and polar species will be vulnerable as coastlines advance inland and ice melts. Sea level rise and erosion will jeopardize the threatened Western Snowy Plover and other shorebirds.
More frequent and severe droughts in the central U.S. are likely to cause prairie pothole wetlands to dry up, jeopardizing millions of waterfowl during breeding season. The projected loss of neotropical migrant songbirds is very high: 53% in the Great Lakes region, 45% loss in the Mid-Atlantic, 44% loss in the northern Great Plains, and 32% fewer in the Pacific Northwest.
Why Can’t Birds Adapt to Global Warming ?
In the past, species and ecosystems were able to respond to global temperature shifts in part because average global temperatures changed slowly. As they did, habitat patterns changed gradually and wildlife could either follow their preferred habitat to new locations or adapt to new conditions. Now, though the change is simply too
fast for many species to adapt. The rate of temperature increase over the next century will be ten times faster than the rate of increase since the last Ice Age. In addition, species that could otherwise move or adapt are now limited by urban and industrial development, large-scale agriculture, and adjacent habitat fragmentation and
destruction. For instance, the endangered Red-cockaded Woodpecker in the southeastern U.S. depends on mature pine forest, a habitat type that cannot spread to new areas quickly or at all.
Why is Loss of Bird Species Important for People?
Birds have great economic and personal value to people. One-third of all human food comes from plants that are pollinated by birds, butterflies, and other wild pollinators. Birds also disperse seeds and help to control rodents, insects, and other pests that would otherwise devastate crops, forests, and ecosystems. In the western
U.S., Savannah Sparrows, Sage Thrashers, egrets, and other birds help control grasshopper populations that would otherwise destroy many crops. In the eastern U.S., nesting wood warblers consume 84% of the eastern spruce budworm that would otherwise decimate forests.
Birds are loved for their aesthetic value, playing an essential role in the U.S. economy and improving the quality of life for many Americans. More than 80 million Americans observe, fish, hunt, and otherwise enjoy birds and other wildlife. Together, they support more than 2.6 million jobs in the U.S. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, America’s 46 million birders spend $32 billion annually, generating $85 billion in overall economic output and $13 billion in state and federal income taxes.
From Fact Sheet: Global Warming and Birds, copyright © 2014 National Audubon Society
Judge halts 30-year permit to kill eagles at wind farms
August 12th, 2015 · by Garrison Frost
In a decision that has far-reaching implications for both bird conservation and wind energy, a U.S. District Court judge yesterday set aside a controversial rule that would allow operators of wind energy facilities to accidentally kill Golden Eagles and Bald Eagles for up to 30 years. The eagles are currently protected under federal statute, though wind energy companies can obtain a five-year permit. The industry pushed for the extension to give developers more “regulatory certainty.”
U.S. District Court Judge Lucy H. Koh determined that the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service failed to adequately determine the impact of the permits on eagle populations, as required by the National Environmental Policy Act. The lead plaintiff in the lawsuit was Debi Shearwater, a charismatic leader of bird tours along California’s central coast. The American Bird Conservancy was also among the plaintiffs. When the permits were announced, Audubon was among the groups to express outrage. Audubon President David Yarnold said:
“Instead of balancing the need for conservation and renewable energy, Interior wrote the wind industry a blank check. It’s outrageous that the government is sanctioning the killing of America’s symbol, the Bald Eagle. Audubon will continue to look for reasonable, thoughtful partners to wean America off fossil fuels because that should be everyone’s highest priority.”
The new eBird Mobile app makes it possible to collect and submit observations directly to eBird from the field. iOS and Android users who were accustomed to entering eBird data using the BirdLog app are encouraged to switch to eBird Mobile, the new and official app for entering data to eBird.
Merlin Bird ID
In a breakthrough for computer vision and for bird watching, researchers and bird enthusiasts have enabled computers to achieve a task that stumps most humans—identifying hundreds of bird species pictured in photos. Build in concert with the exceedingly popular Merlin app, the Merlin Bird ID tool lets you upload an image of a bird that you’ve photographed, and if the photo shows one of the supported species, it returns the correct species in the top 3 results, 90% of the time. It currently supports 400 species in North America, but will eventually be expanding to more species in North America, and worldwide. Give it a try.
borrowed from Audubon At Home
Plants for Birds and Wildlife
|Spicebush, photo courtesy USDA-NRCS Plants Database
Birds and wildlife have adapted to utilize native plants that provide food, cover, nesting sites or a combination of resources. Native plants provide food at different times of the year to birds in the form of seeds, fruit or as invertebrate host sites. The growth habits of native plants present recognizable, safe nesting sites and cover that protect birds from inclement weather and predation. The importance of these plants to birds, insects and other wildlife cannot be overstated.
Using native plants in your backyard landscape will offer the most resources to birds and wildlife and serve as rewarding attractants. On these pages you will find some examples of plants that are particularly valuable to specific birds and other beneficial organisms. A more comprehensive database with regional references is in the works at Audubon At Home and will be available online in the near future.
Plantings for birds in our area:
Nuttall's Woodpecker, Oak Titmouse, Yellow-rumped Warbler- California Live Oak
Wrentit, California Towhee, Spotted Towhee - California Wax Myrle
For more information about native plants please visit:
California Native Plant Society
Master Gardener's Program in San Joaquin County
Plants for Beneficial Insects
Predators. Parasitoids. Pollinators.
Welcome them into your Healthy Yard.
These are the insects, bugs and other organisms on the front line of pest control in your yard, guarding against destructive bugs and helping plants reproduce. Nature supplies these beneficial bugs of course, but you can encourage them to remain in your yard by providing them with some essential elements.
Nearly every plant in a natural environment will sustain at least some damage by pests…it is part of the natural balance. But pests don’t overpopulate a natural ecosystem due to the presence of natural enemies. In a healthy yard with its native plants and pesticide-free environment, pests will appear—and so will natural enemies.
THE INSECTS – Wild Friends, Natural Enemies
|Ladybug feeding on cottonwood leaf beetle eggs, photo by James Solomon, USDA Forest Service
Move Over, Lady - It has long been known that ladybugs (or lady beetles), especially in their larval stage, are "good bugs" with voracious appetites for aphids. Without dismissing the value of ladybugs as garden friends, there are other natural pest enemies that are much less conspicuous but even more valuable. The lowly "gnat" that flies by your ear may in fact be the tiny eulophid wasp – a full-grown one is just one-eighth inch – on her way to lay up to one hundred eggs in the pupae of tree-destroying beetles.
Predatory and parasitoid flies and wasps are key players in the biological control of insect pests. Many, in fact, are reared in laboratories and dispersed into crops, forests and neighborhoods to control exotic insect pests (i.e. elm leaf beetle). Click on the link below to learn more about the tiny denizens of your yard and other beneficial organisms.
THE PLANTS – Nectar for Natural Pest Enemies
|Syrphid (hover) Fly, photo by Carl Dennis, Auburn University
Nectar is an important dietary supplement for beneficial wasps and flies. Asters and their cousins (such as daisies and goldenrod) offer excellent resources and there are native varieties in every part of the country. Flowers that are composites - where many small symmetrical flowers occur in a central disk - are perfect for small wasps and flies such as the common predaceous hover fly (pictured left). Many of the beneficial insects are small and require a short flower structure in order to access the nectar.
These same flowering plants will attract a wide range of important pollinators such as native bees, butterflies and honeybees. When they produce seed, these plants will provide a valuable food source for birds and other wildlife in the fall and winter.
Plant a variety of plant types such as groundcover, trees, and shrubs, mimicking natural growth patterns to form complex habitat that will be home to a greater variety of beneficial insects.
THE INSECTS – Information and pictures of the lesser-known but effective natural enemies that occupy your backyard.
PLANTS TO ATTRACT BENEFICIAL INSECTS – Your guide to some stellar examples of the useful plants that will attract a variety of beneficial insects. Look for examples of similar native flowers occurring in your region.
For more information about beneficial insects please visit:
Beneficial Insects in Your Garden
If you’re interested in finding out what rare and unusual birds are being seen in California (or anywhere in the US, for that matter), you should check out Sialia, aka The Birding Lists Digest. Sialia (http://digest.sialia.com) was created to help birders find out "what's going on lately" in various regions of the U.S. with a minimum of hassle. The Digest automatically compiles all posts to dozens of birding email lists and organizes them by region, by day, and by list. Birders can view the current day's messages, or browse messages from the last 30 days. This system allows birders to find information about rare bird sightings and other goings-on around the country in a timely and efficient manner. Check it out!
October 15, 2015 – December 3, 2015
(All sightings pertain to San Joaquin County)
Submitted by Liz West
Nancy Houlihan found a Pectoral Sandpiper in a flock of Dunlin at Staten Island on November 5th.
November 8th, Terry Ronneberg saw a Cassin’s Kingbird at the Tracy Sewage Ponds. On November 16th Colin Dillingham reported two at the sewage ponds. One of them continued through to November 25th. On November 29th, Jim Rowoth saw three Cassin’s Kingbirds at the Koster Rd. gravel ponds.
Susan Steele had a female Red-breasted Merganser at the Lodi Sewage Ponds, November 21st. It was present the next day and viewed by a number of CVBS participants.
David Lanphear saw a Eurasian Wigeon in a flooded field on Woodbridge Rd. at the Isenberg Preserve, November 28th. It was still present December 3rd.
While leading the December 5th San Joaquin Audubon Beginning Bird Walk at Lodi Lake, Pat Paternostro located a Long-eared Owl that jays were harassing. He also saw a tree with nine Band-tailed Pigeons near Pig’s Lake.
San Joaquin Audubon Society
PO Box 7755, Stockton, California 95267
For more information contact:
San Joaquin Audubon Society President: Dale Smith, email@example.com
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