The bigger picture is also concerning: Of 588 North American bird species examined in Audubon’s seven-year study, 314 species are at risk, with numerous extinctions possible if global warming continues on its current trajectory. According to the State of the Birds report, 230 species nationwide are currently in decline.
“The Audubon study uses projections of changes in precipitation and temperature to predict future impacts to birds, and its alarming findings suggest we need to aggressively reduce carbon emissions while working to help bird species cope with shifting ecosystems,” said Joe Liebezeit, the Audubon Society of Portland avian conservation program manager. “The State of the Birds report found that aridlands and coastal environments, which make up much of the land base in Oregon, are some of the most high-risk areas for birds.”
The Audubon Society of Portland is using several methods to help birds impacted by climate change, including working to protect habitats threatened by an increase in climate-related droughts, preserving mature and old-growth forests that serve as carbon stores, and participating in the development of urban plans that address the local impacts of climate change. Many of the organization’s habitat and species conservation efforts target issues highlighted in the State of the Birds report.
“The State of the Birds report and Audubon study are important additions to our understanding of the challenges facing our birds, and will help us strategize about broader conservation priorities and identify regional strongholds where birds may be buffered from a changing climate,” said Bob Sallinger, Audubon Society of Portland conservation director. “We need to work at all scales, from the backyard to our wildscapes, to protect our region’s birds.”
There are ways for everyone to help birds in the face of a warming world, from urging elected officials to take action to creating backyard habitat that supports birds as they weather the climate-change storm. More ideas and information are available on the Audubon Society of Portland website.
To compile the Audubon climate study, National Audubon Society ornithologists analyzed 30 years of historical North American climate data and tens of thousands of historical bird records from the U.S. Geological Survey’s North American Breeding Bird Survey and the Audubon Christmas Bird Count to understand the links between where birds live and the climatic conditions that support them. Understanding those links then allowed scientists to project where birds are likely to be able to survive – and not survive – in the future. For more information about the study, visit www.audubon.org/climate.
The State of the Birds report summarizes current scientific understanding of the most significant threats to North American bird species using long-term population monitoring data. It includes a Watch List of the birds in most need of conservation action; birds are divided into a red list of extremely vulnerable species and a yellow list of species in decline. The report is put together by a team of scientists from the North American Bird Conservation Initiative in partnership with agencies and organizations like the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Audubon Society, Klamath Bird Observatory and American Bird Conservancy. For more information about the report, visit www.stateofthebirds.org.
Founded in 1902, Portland Audubon is one of the oldest conservation organizations in the nation. It promotes the understanding, enjoyment and protection of native birds, other wildlife and their habitats through its conservation and environmental education programs, its 150-acre Nature Sanctuary and Nature Store in northwest Portland, and its Wildlife Care Center.
For more information, call 503-292-6855 or visit www.audubonportland.org.