According to analysis of four decades of Audubon's Christmas Bird
Count released in February 2009 birds seen in North America during the first
weeks of winter have moved dramatically northward - toward colder latitudes -
over the past four decades.
Significant northward movement occurred
among 58% of the observed species - 177 of 305.
More than 60 species
moved in excess of 100 miles north.
Among all landbirds in the study,
64% showed significant northward movements, including more than 70% of all
woodland birds and 70% of the frequent feeders.
52% of interior
waterbird species moved north, including a wide variety of ducks, such as
American Black Duck, and
coastal waterbirds including Black
Turnstone (a shorebird), Black-Bellied
Plover (a shorebird) and Northern
Gannet (a large fish-eating bird) moved north.
including Eastern and Western
Meadowlarks, Vesper Sparrow, and
Burrowing Owl, overall did not move
due to lack of available habitat.
Rising winter temperatures make
northern latitudes increasingly more hospitable to many species commonly found
Audubon's Christmas Bird Count has documented shifts to
the north or inland for the majority and for nearly every kind of North
American bird species.
"Whether seen in the movement of the birds, or
the melting of ice caps, the evidence cannot be denied - ecological disruption
is underway. Failure to prevent the worst impacts of global warming would
undermine much of the conservation work that Audubon has accomplished for more
than a century." - A Briefing for Policymakers and Concerned Citizens on
Audubon's Analyses of North American Bird Movements in the Face of Global
Warming, February, 2009; Audubon Christmas Bird Count and Climate Analysis by
Daniel K. Niven, Gregory S. Butcher and G. Thomas Bancroft; Audubon
California Climate Research by William B.Monahan and Gary
According to The State of the Birds, US of America
Hawaiian birds and oceanic birds appear to be most at
Grasslands and aridlands and their associated bird species have
shown the most rapid decline in the past 40 years.
Some declines have
been shown in birds that depend on forest habitats.
More than one-third
of all US listed birds occur in Hawaii with 71 species becoming extinct since
humans colonized the islands.
At least another 10 species are unrecorded in
recent decades and are thought to be extinct.
At least 39% of US birds
restricted to oceanic habitats are declining.
Wading birds and other
wetland birds have either held their own, or are increasing.
aridland birds, 39% are species of conservation concern, including at least 10
federally listed as endangered or threatened.
60% of all aridland
species and 76% of aridland obligate species have declined.
federally listed species or populations listed as endangered are:
Northern Aplomado Falcon,
San Clemente Loggerhead Shrike,
Least Bell's Vireo,
Black-Capped Vireo, and
Aridland species or populations listed as threatened are:
Western Snowy Plover,
Inyo California Towhee, and
San Clemente Sage Sparrow.
46 grassland-breeding birds, 48% are species of conservation concern, including
four species populations that are federally endangered:
Northern Aplomado Falcon,
Masked Northern Bobwhite,
Attwater's Greater Prairie-Chicken,
and Florida Grasshopper Sparrow.
Six species that breed in the Great Plains of the US and Canada and
winter in Mexico's Chihuahuan grasslands, Sprague's Pipit,
Chestnut-Collared Longspur, and
McCown's Longspur have shown
population declines of 68-91%. In addition, Lesser Prairie-Chicken is a candidate for
listing under the Endangered Species Act.
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