Most serious birdwatchers can tell you about global warming and climate change, just from watching the birds at their feeders, and when those birds migrate.
Now comes a study to confirm with data and controlled observation what the birders have been saying all along. Phys.org reported:
Scientists have shown for the first time that common bird populations are responding to climate change in a similar pronounced way in both Europe and the USA.
An international team of researchers led by Durham University, UK, found that populations of bird species expected to do well due to climate change had substantially outperformed those expected to do badly over a 30 year period from 1980 to 2010.
The research, conducted in collaboration with the RSPB and the United States Geological Survey (USGS), is published in the journal Science.
It is the first real demonstration that climate is having a similar, large-scale influence on the abundance of common birds in widely separated parts of the world, the researchers said.
Among the species showing pronounced effects of climate change are common woodland and garden birds such as the wren, in Europe, and the American robin in the USA.
Biologists especially work to predict effects of warming on plants and animals, both to help plan changes in activities such as farming and hunting, and to protect species that are endangered now, or are likely to become so due to changing climate factors.
This study shows scientists can predict with accuracy some of the wildlife effects.
These changes are consistent with changing climate suitability within those areas, the researchers said.
Other factors, such as the size of the birds, the habitats they live in and their migratory behaviour, all affect bird populations, but did not differ systematically between groups advantaged or disadvantaged by climate change.
Therefore, only climate change could explain the differences between average population trends in advantaged and disadvantaged groups, the researchers said.
The study’s lead authors, Dr Stephen Willis and Dr Philip Stephens, of Durham University’s School of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, said the findings showed there was a large-scale, consistent response by bird populations to climate change on two continents.
Generally it would be an insult to call someone a bird brain. We may need to revise that thinking. In contrast to climate change denialists, 177 species of migratory birds in North America have adjusted their migrations because of a warming climate. The birds know something the denialists don’t.
How will denialists spin this? It’s difficult for them to claim that the birds have been hornswoggled by inaccurate newspaper accounts, since these are not the birds whose cages are lined with newspapers.
Eastern Meadowlark, photo by FWS/John and Karen Hollingsworth
Eastern and Western Meadowlark: These popular robin-sized grassland birds form winter flocks and always feed on the ground. Neither species has been wintering farther north over the past 40 years, probably because the quality of northern grasslands is not sufficient to support these birds through the winter. The Eastern Meadowlark is one of Audubon’s Common Birds in Decline; its population has plummeted 72% in population over the last 40 years.
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Retired teacher of law, economics, history, AP government, psychology and science. Former speechwriter, press guy and legislative aide in U.S. Senate. Former Department of Education. Former airline real estate, telecom towers, Big 6 (that old!) consultant. Lab and field research in air pollution control.
My blog, Millard Fillmore's Bathtub, is a continuing experiment to test how to use blogs to improve and speed up learning processes for students, perhaps by making some of the courses actually interesting. It is a blog for teachers, to see if we can use blogs. It is for people interested in social studies and social studies education, to see if we can learn to get it right. It's a blog for science fans, to promote good science and good science policy. It's a blog for people interested in good government and how to achieve it.
BS in Mass Communication, University of Utah
Graduate study in Rhetoric and Speech Communication, University of Arizona
JD from the National Law Center, George Washington University