Birds Fly Farther North as Winter Temperatures Rise

cedar wren photo
Photo: Kelly Colgan Azar / cc

In recent decades, birdwatchers in North Carolina have had to travel farther and farther north to catch a glimpse of their beloved wrens and waxwings, and scientists suggest that changes in the climate could be to blame for the birds' relocation in the winter. According to researchers, many birds species that were once common in the region around Charlotte have moved northward as temperatures in the region continue to increase -- on average, a whopping 116 miles away -- but global warming may not be the only reason why.As a report from The Charlotte Observer notes, while there are still many people who believe that the science behind global warming is still in question, changes in seasonal migratory patterns are typically counted among its effects -- and birds aren't the only things hinting at a changing climate in this part of the United States. In the last two decades, North Carolina winter temperatures have increased one degree on average, a trend researchers expect to continue.

From the Observer:

The evidence is firmest in North Carolina on the coast, where a state science panel expects a 1-meter increase in sea level by 2100 and beach towns are scrambling to save eroding strands.

Charlotte's birds are among the hints of statewide shifts as temperatures inch higher. The tendency is northward and upward: stonefly nymphs moving higher up mountain streams; coastal frogs croaking in Piedmont backyards; tropical fish cruising the temperate coast.

For the time being, however, scientists studying the matter are hesitant to say climate change as the only factor in play. "It's not just climate change we're facing," scientist Paul Super, from Great Smoky Mountains National Park, told the Observer. "It's the pressure of an increased population and increased use of the park, of exotic species being introduced, of atmospheric deposition with metals. All of that is stressing the park in one way or another, and climate change is just another stressor."

More on Climate Change and Migrations
Migratory Birds Leaving Earlier in Spring Because of Climate Change Still Arriving on Time
Should Humans Assist Animals Migrate So Climate Change Doesn't Kill Them?

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