Vulnerability high for spring migrants

7/14/2017 | 0

AT RISK: A study of 46 bird species that breed in the Upper Midwest and Great Lakes ranked Black Tern as the most highly vulnerable to climate change. Photo by Tim Zurowski/Shutterstock

AT RISK: A study of 46 bird species that breed in the Upper Midwest and Great Lakes ranked Black Tern as the most highly vulnerable to climate change. Photo by Tim Zurowski/Shutterstock

New assessment of climate change finds 10 species especially threatened

Ornithologists with the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center and the U.S. Geological Survey’s Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center have found more evidence of the negative effects of climate change on North American birds.

They used several criteria to assess the vulnerability to climate change of 46 species that breed in the Upper Midwest and Great Lakes region of the United States. Two birds — abundant Killdeer and Red-winged Blackbird — had low vulnerability while 34 species ranked as moderately vulnerable.

The remaining 10 are considered highly vulnerable to climate change. They are Black Tern, Forster’s Tern, Caspian Tern, Common Tern, Eastern Whip-poor-will, Yellow-bellied Flycatcher, Worm-eating Warbler, Red-necked Grebe, Black-throated Blue Warbler, and Rusty Blackbird.

Species at the upper end of the moderately vulnerable list include Pied-billed Grebe, Acadian Flycatcher, Swainson’s Thrush, Golden-winged Warbler, Tennessee Warbler, Nashville Warbler, Cerulean Warbler, and Canada Warbler.

The researchers produced their rankings by assessing the full annual cycle of each species and assigning scores based on criteria such as background risk, climate change exposure, and the capacity to adapt.

Two species — Black Tern and Forster’s Tern — had high overall vulnerability during the breeding and nonbreeding seasons, a fact the authors say strengthens the case for management action for each. And Black Tern and eight others — Upland Sandpiper, Eastern Whip-poor-will, Acadian Flycatcher, Nashville Warbler, Prairie Warbler, Dickcissel, Bobolink, and Orchard Oriole — are highly vulnerable to temperature and/or moisture change throughout the annual cycle.

“Projected drying will have the greatest effect during the nonbreeding season for species overwintering in Mexico and the Caribbean,” the researchers write in the journal Ecosphere. “Projected temperature increases will have the greatest effect during the breeding season in [the Upper Midwest Great Lakes area] as well as during the nonbreeding season for species overwintering in South America.”

A version of this article appeared in “Birding Briefs” in the June 2017 issue of BirdWatching.

 

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