Study: Climate change threatens over 64% of North American birds

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Western meadowlark, rocky mountain arsenal wildlife refuge, western meadowlark

FILE – This April 14, 2019 file photo shows a western meadowlark in the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge in Commerce City, Colo. According to a study released on Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019, North America’s skies are lonelier and quieter as nearly 3 billion fewer wild birds soar in the air than in 1970. Some of the most common and recognizable birds are taking the biggest hits, even though they are not near disappearing yet. The population of eastern meadowlarks has shriveled by more than three-quarters with the western meadowlark nearly as hard hit. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)

DETROIT (WLNS) – Today, Audubon Great Lakes announced 64% of North American birds are at increasing risk of extinction from global temperature rise.

Audubon scientists studied 604 North American bird species using 140 million bird records for the report, Survival by Degrees: 389 Bird Species on the Brink.

“Birds are important indicator species, because if an ecosystem is broken for birds, it is or soon will be for people too,” said Erin Rowan, Michigan birds program associate.

Audubon’s Birds and Climate Visualizer is a web tool that helps the community understand the impacts to birds where they live.

In Michigan the most threatened species include Common Loon, Sedge Wren, Wood Thrush, Pine Warbler, Scarlet Tanager, and Henslow’s Sparrow.

Last month, Science published a study by a joint team of conservation biologists that there are nearly three billion fewer birds in North America than there were in 1970.

Bird loss graph. Courtesy of the Cornell Lab of Ornothology. Source: Science, 2019

Audubon says by holding warming to roughly 2.7°F above pre-industrial levels, 76 percent of vulnerable species will be better off, and nearly 150 species would no longer be vulnerable to extinction from climate change.

The nonprofit organization outlined steps to help including reducing home energy use and asking your elected officials to support energy-saving policies.

The National Audubon Society also put answers to some common questions regarding the study on their website.

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