Is It Still a Carolina Wren If It No Longer Calls Carolina Home?
Image via: Audubon Society
Following closely on the heels of a recent report by the University of York, the Audubon Society today announced that the Carolina Wren is just one of over 305 bird species that are now spending their winters over 35 miles further north than they did over 40 years ago, reports The State newspaper. In fact, the "canary in the coal mine", when it comes to global warming is not a canary, but a purple finch because it has moved further north than any of the other birds in the study - over 400 miles. Is global warming to blame? There are many reasons that birds migrate out of their normal range, mainly habitat loss due to deforestation, and dietary changes, but for such a large variety of birds over such a large area to all move further north this is due to global warming. The study covers 40 years of bird migrations, and during this time the January temperature in the northern US latitudes rose an average of 5 degrees Fahrenheit.
At this rate, many southern birds are spending more time in northern latitudes as winter temperatures are increasingly milder, so the birds are no longer outside of their normal temperature range. Birds must live in (winter) areas that are warm enough for them to get enough food energy to be able to shake all night and stay warm. Warming northern latitudes mean that birds that normally winter in the US may soon start to winter in Canada. One interesting point of the report is that most grassland species are not migrating, not because they're not affected by global warming, but because of habitat destruction. The birds have nowhere to go and are just stuck where they are.
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