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How Does Climate Change Affect Birds?
Blog...How Does Climate Change Affect Birds?

How Does Climate Change Affect Birds?

Ecology News
Global Warming
colorful bird on tree branch
In this article, we’ll explain how climate change affects birds in different ways and across various regions of our planet, and what we can do to protect birds from the effects of climate change.
Ecology News
colorful bird on tree branch

In the midst of climate change, many of us are concerned how our daily life habits will be affected by rising temperatures and sporadic weather patterns – but how will climate change affect birds?

Birds are more pivotal to our ecosystems than many of us realize, as they can serve as a form of seed dispersal, act as both scavengers and predators, and even help with pollination in a similar fashion to bees.

In this article, we’ll explain how climate change affects birds in different ways and across various regions of our planet, and what we can do to protect birds from the effects of climate change.

Why are birds important to us?

Many may find bird watching to be an arbitrary pastime, or see birds as nothing more than a sweet sight – but in reality, birds are crucial to our ecosystems – as birds help to disperse seeds, control pests, and are vital pollinators.

Birds aren’t just a pleasant creature to spot or listen to melodious chirping, but they can help mitigate the effects of climate change while also benefiting other sectors of our economy.
why you need birds with black crows and pointing hand

Here are a few more reasons why birds are more important than most realize:

  • Birds Fuel the Economy – Did you know that bird watchers spend a whopping $75 billion on equipment and travel just to spot bird species? In addition to this, the U.S. has been able to create jobs associated with birds, demonstrating how birds can help to boost our economies. 
  • Birds Help Farmers – Even farmers who are exceptionally in tune with the effects of climate change and who alter their agricultural practices to accommodate this are bound to suffer from pests. In fact, pests are expected to reproduce more in conjunction with warming temperatures – meaning that birds could prove more beneficial than ever before in helping to eat unwanted pests. 

💡 Did you know that birds eat up to 500 tons of insects every year? This goes to show how indispensable birds could be as climate change worsens and the amount of pests increases.

  • Birds Serve as a Bat Signal –  Unlike humans, birds have greater insight into the health of our current environment – as they are more susceptible to air pollution and various toxins. If birds are struggling in a particular environment, it can serve as an early warning sign that something has gone awry in the surrounding area’s air quality. 
  • Birds Are Essential to Our Ecosystems – Birds can not only ward off the amount of pests farmers may have to deal with, but they can also help to consume other harmful vegetation, eat mosquitoes and prevent deadly diseases from circulating, disperse seeds, reduce mouse and rat populations in cities like Paris and New York, and pollinate plants. 

👉 Overall, birds are essential to our daily lives as they can help the economy, make a farmer’s job easier, and ultimately help to preserve our ecosystems.

baby bird on tree branch

Why are birds affected by climate change?

There are several reasons why birds are affected by climate change, including the newfound lack of resources such as food sources or materials to build nests, and how rising temperatures impact their habitats.

The biggest threat to birds is habitat loss, and climate change remains the biggest threat to the continued destruction of these habitats which birds rely on for survival and vitality.
birds and climate change

Here are some of the ways that birds are being affected by climate change:

  • Shifting Migration Patterns – Studies have shown that birds are migrating earlier in the Spring as global warming persists. As a result, birds are also laying their eggs earlier every year due to rising warm temperatures.
  • Changing Roles in Predators or Prey – Climate change may elicit new parasites and predators that birds are not yet capable or evolved enough to fight off, which could threaten the survival of several bird species. 
  • Lack of Available Food – Many bird species rely on fish for sufficient nourishment in addition to eating insects and seeds – but climate change threatens the existence of these available food sources. In fact, climate change could eradicate up to 60% of fish species – which would make it exceptionally challenging for many birds to feed themselves.  
  • Natural Disasters Destroying Habitats – Increased global temperatures are aggravating several natural disasters such as hurricanes, tornadoes, and tsunamis – all of which can easily destroy existing habitats for birds.  
  • Increased Chances of Extinction – Almost all bird species will be implicated by warming global temperatures, but especially migratory birds – as they rely on multiple bodies of water, habitats, and natural resources to survive while migrating. 

👉 Ultimately, rising temperatures have impacted and will continue to negatively affect birds behavior, migrating patterns, and amount of vital resources available to them – all of which can put the livelihood of birds at risk.

birds flying in a flock

How will climate change affect birds around the world?

The consequences birds will suffer as a result of climate change is contingent on their location and species, but it is important to note that birds all over the world – from the United Kingdom to Antarctica, will be impacted by the effects of climate change.

Two regions of the world where birds are known to be especially vulnerable to the effects of climate change include the U.K. and Arctic birds.

Let’s have a look at two well-known regions which harbor several bird species and how they will be affected by climate change.

How will climate change affect Arctic birds?

Arctic birds will be impacted by climate change seeing as their migration patterns will be forced to change, new locations for nesting will need to be secured, and food variety will grow sparse. 

Arctic birds are reported to be the birds most affected by climate change, as skyrocketing temperatures are taking a toll on their natural, icy habitats are especially vulnerable in the midst of warming weather patterns and melting sea ice.

Arctic birds will also be affected by climate change because:

  • Arctic birds often have an imperative relationship with the sea, such as penguins in Antarctica, and changing weather patterns could compromise the current nature of these seas many birds rely on;
  • Shifting migration patterns means that arctic birds will have to learn to utilize the resources in their new surroundings that they may not be used to, and not all arctic birds will be able to accommodate to these changes;
  • Melting sea ice will affect birds which often reside by sea ice, such as Ivory Gulls – and there is unlikely to be a “replacement” habitat that could prove on par with existing sea ice “residences” for Arctic birds. 

💡 Since cooler regions of the world, such as the Arctic, is able to feel the palpable difference and negative effects of climate change more abruptly given the usual frigid temperatures – Arctic birds will have to adapt quicker than other bird species.

penguins holding hands

How will climate change affect birds in the UK?

Another region of the world where birds are expected to be exceptionally affected is in the United Kingdom, which is home to over 600 bird species.

Birds in the U.K. will be affected by climate change for the following reasons:

  • Seabird populations in the U.K. may suffer the consequences of rising global temperatures as warmer weather could compromise their current available food and material resources. In fact, it is estimated that the population of these seabirds could decrease by 90% by 2050 due to warmer temperatures. In addition to this, fish populations such as Atlantic Salmon are affected by climate change – which serves as a food source for many U.K. bird species;
  • Rising water temperatures could reduce the amount of food available for native U.K. bird species;
  • Oak trees are deteriorating in the U.K. as a result of climate change, which many U.K. bird species use as a home for nesting in addition to over 2,300 other species;
  • Warmer temperatures elsewhere in the world will cause more birds to migrate north towards the U.K. and set up colonies there, with these bird species including the Night Heron, Little Bittern, Cattle Egret, and the Great White Egret.
small yellow bird on bright pink cherry blossom branch

How can we protect birds in the midst of climate change?

Birds around the world may find themselves subject to the worst of the negative effects of climate change, but luckily – there are a few things we can do to help them, such as by planting new trees and staying on top of wildfires before they burn down entire habits.

Generally, the best way to protect birds from the effects of climate change would be to implement more sustainable living habits into your daily life and to make an effort to mitigate climate change altogether – as warming weather is the main culprit behind climate change and how it affects birds.

Here are some of the things we can do to protect birds from climate change:

  • Plant New Trees – Planting new trees isn’t only beneficial to help absorb excess carbon dioxide emissions and reduce air pollution, but reforestation can help to provide new habitats for now nomadic birds.
  • Mitigate Rising Sea Levels – Rising sea levels are a concern for people who live in coastal areas, as it raises the threat of negative effects from natural disasters such as tsunamis and hurricanes – but it also poses an issue for birds. This is because many coastal marsh birds are bound to be impacted by abnormal sea levels, and could force them to migrate elsewhere to a place where they are not well-versed for survival. 
  • Promote Biodiversity – Biodiversity can help to support climate change, but it is also essential to help ensure the surrounding ecosystem remains robust for struggling bird populations. This can help to preserve vulnerable ecosystems which birds rely on for survival. 
  • Avoid DroughtsMany migratory birds rely on large bodies of water, such as the Great Salt Lake, as a pivotal “pit stop” on their annual journey. If these large bodies of water continue to dry up as a result of climate change, these migratory birds won’t make it to lay new eggs and keep the species going.
  • Prevent Wildfires – Unfortunately, wildfires are becoming more common with rising temperatures and dry climates – and they ultimately destroy bird’s habitats. Therefore, actively working to be proactive against wildfires from occurring in the first place can help to protect birds in the midst of climate change.

Overall, climate change is affecting birds every which way – from their migration patterns, practices in being predators or prey, and their available resources. However, how climate change will continue to affect birds isn’t up to chance – but how we tackle the fight against climate change, together.

What About Greenly?

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