Bird count measures effects of climate change


An American Goldfinch perched on a thistle plant in Ohio (Jen Goellnitz/Flickr)
An American Goldfinch perched on a thistle plant in Ohio (Jen Goellnitz/Flickr)

Nick Fetty | January 2, 2015

The Christmas Bird Count not only provides bird watchers with an opportunity to track and document particular bird species but it also helps to show the impact that climate change has on bird populations.

The Annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count began on December 14th and will continue through January 5th. The event – which is in its 115th year – relies on more than 70,000 volunteers at more than 2,400 locations across the country to take note of specific bird sightings in their area. Last year 71,659 observers in all 50 states identified more than 66 million birds from 2,403 different species.

Researchers have found that robins are just one bird species to have their migration patterns affected by climate change. Robins are spending their winters about 200 miles further north than in previous years. Researchers have also found that climate change has caused 60 percent of bird species to move the center of range north by at least 30 miles.

A report by the National Audubon Society finds that climate change could threaten more than half of the species of birds in North America by the end of the century.

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