Alaskan shorebirds nest earlier because of climate change

This video is called Celebrating Alaska’s Shorebirds. It says about itself:

21 May 2014

In Alaska, hundreds of diverse species from tiny songbirds to the much larger sandhill cranes and majestic trumpeter swans all share the same rich nesting grounds.

The fact that these shorebirds, some weighing in at a fraction of an ounce, travel up to 20,000 miles annually simply gives us humans a profound sense of awe when they arrive each spring, right on schedule. Celebrating Alaska’s Shorebirds chronicles this amazing migration against the spectacular background of Alaskan scenery. Produced over a two and a half year period of field work this stunning film has captured many stunning images in a variety of locations with in Alaska where these birds land to feed, rest, nest and breed.

From Wildlife Extra:

Arctic birds nesting earlier to catch advancing springs

Snow melt in the Arctic Alaska is causing migratory birds to breed nearly a week earlier than ten years ago, a new study shows.

For nine years scientists have monitored 2,500 nests of four shorebird species and one songbird, across four sites, recording when the first eggs were laid in each.

They discovered that the birds have advanced their nesting by an average of 4-7 days over the nine years, and snow melt, over other contributory factors such as abundance of nest predators and the seasonal flush of new vegetation, was the main cause.

“It seems clear that the timing of the snow melt in Arctic Alaska is the most important mechanism driving the earlier and earlier breeding dates we observed in the Arctic,” said lead author Joe Liebezeit of the Audubon Society of Portland in the USA.

The four sites ranged from the oilfields of Prudhoe Bay to the remote National Petroleum Reserve of western Arctic Alaska, and the species monitored included the semi-palmated sandpiper, red phalarope, red-necked phalarope, and pectoral sandpiper.

“Migratory birds are nesting earlier in the changing Arctic, presumably to track the earlier springs and abundance of insect prey,” said Wildlife Conservation Society Coordinator of Bird Conservation Steve Zack.

“Many of these birds winter in the tropics and might be compromising their complicated calendar of movements to accommodate this change.

“We’re concerned that there will be a threshold where they will no longer be able to track the emergence of these earlier springs, which may impact breeding success or even population viability.”

Climate change threatens 314 North American bird species: here.

Across the globe, 45% of Arctic-nesting shorebirds are decreasing. The new Pacific Americas Shorebird Conservation Strategy aims to identify the threats and develop strategies to save them. Shorebirds—plovers, oystercatchers, sandpipers, godwits, curlews—can be found along the entirety of the Pacific coast of the Western Hemisphere during some time of the year: here.

Climate and ecosystems are changing, but predation on shorebird nests has changed little across the globe over the past 60 years, finds an international team of 60 researchers. The study published in Science on 14 June 2019 challenges a recent claim that shorebird eggs are more often eaten by predators due to climate change, and more so in the Arctic compared to the tropics. The research shows that these claims are a methodological artefact: here.

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