Birds and climate change

This video by the Audubon Society in the USA says about itself:

8 September 2014

Global warming threatens the survival of nearly half the bird species in the continental United States and Canada, including many of the birds we see every day.

Learn how you can help save our birds:

From BirdLife:

The Messengers: What birds tell us about climate change

By Sanya Khetani-Shah, Thu, 19/11/2015 – 08:51

Human-induced climate change is happening. It is happening so fast that many species will struggle to adapt and survive in the near future, unless we act now.

Already, we can see the impact that rising temperatures are having on plants, animals, birds, people and the benefits that nature provides to people. Birds, being the best-studied group of organisms, are powerful sentinels for the natural world: They tell us how biodiversity is responding to global warming. All this has been documented in a new joint report The Messengers by BirdLife International and the National Audubon Society on climate change, which comes out before the climate change summit in Paris (read the foreword by the heads of both organisations here).

The report – a synthesis of hundreds of peer-reviewed studies – explains with real-world examples how climate change will continue to affect birds and people. The outlook is bleak: from forced migration due to loss of habitat to greater threat from diseases, more competition for lesser food and more frequent extreme weather events. (Read BirdLife International’s official position on climate change here.)

Most scarily, people will experience these same threats, and their responses – such as clearing forests to create new farming and living areas, or creating storm-surge barriers against rising sea levels – could have a substantially negative impact on nature, including loss of habitats and species extinctions.


Birds have in the last decades moved northward both in latitude and altitude to escape warmer temperatures and increasingly inhospitable habitats. So species’ ranges are shrinking and migration cycles are being disrupted, causing population declines. Island species are most strongly affected. In Hawaii, a sea level rise of 2 m would flood 39-91% of Black-footed Albatross nests and 44-100% of Bonin Petrel nests.

The bird species of conservation concern for which IBAs and protected areas have been identified may not remain in these sites as climate changes (the Red-collared Mountain-babbler is projected to lose all habitat in the Albertine Rift Valley of East Africa by 2085). Also, the lack of proper connectivity between suitable habitats will hamper the migration of species, which could leave many vulnerable to extinction.


In recent decades, higher temperatures have resulted in range expansions for disease carriers like mosquitoes. Malaria, dengue and haemorrhagic fever thrive in warm, humid climates. Despite improvements in public health, by 2050, it is estimated that 200 million more people will be exposed to malaria as a result of climate change.

Climate change is also likely to reduce the area of malaria-free habitat for the endemic birds of Hawaii, as the projected lifting of the cloudbase shifts the malaria risk zone to higher altitudes, mirroring the migration of the birds.


As species migrate to new habitats, the composition of bird and non-bird communities will change and the relationships between predators and prey will be disrupted. New competition for dwindling food resources will pose a significant threat to species’ survival.

For example, increasing temperatures in the high Arctic are causing the bringing forward of breeding times for some shorebirds such as Baird’s Sandpiper, but this is not always in line with shifts in the availability of the insects that sandpiper chicks feed on.

By 2050, it is predicted that yields of most important crops will decline in developing countries, exposing an additional 25 million children to malnutrition.

Extreme weather

Extreme weather events and existing threats such as forest fires, typhoons and heat waves are projected to increase in intensity and frequency. By 2100, it is estimated that an additional 52 million people in 84 developing countries will be affected by coastal storm-surges.

Many threatened species are likely to become more imperilled, while most of the species projected to be impacted (according to recent studies) were not previously recognised as under threat. Globally, only a quarter of ‘highly climatically vulnerable’ bird species are listed as threatened by BirdLife International on the IUCN Red List.

The impacts of climate change are likely to increase as temperatures rise further, and while some species (ones that thrive in warmer climates) may see range expansion, there are likely to be more than twice as many species that lose out because of the speed of climate change.

A message of hope: Nature-based solutions

Our report is also intended to send a message of hope: we can reduce the severity of climate change. Happily, while birds are excellent sentinels to the effects of global warming on nature, they are also pointing us to the solutions needed. BirdLife Partners are at the forefront of efforts to implement these responses to benefit both nature and people.

They are not just nature-friendly solutions to minimise greenhouse gas emissions; typical species conservation responses are integrating climate change concerns into their measures. Simply put: Healthy ecosystems remove carbon from the atmosphere and store it in biomass. If this biomass is degraded or destroyed, the carbon is released into the atmosphere, causing global warming. So protection and restoration of natural ecosystems is an effective climate change mitigation strategy.

The report shows how BirdLife Partners across the globe are preserving and revitalising ecosystems to help plants, birds, animals and people adapt to climate change and build resilience to its effects. Healthy ecosystems not only support people’s livelihoods, but are also useful as a buffer against climate calamities. BirdLife in Belarus is restoring 51.000 ha of peatland, turning it from a source of carbon into a carbon sink, creating important habitats for threatened waterfowl species and providing a source of clean water to surrounding communities and their farmlands.

The strategic role of IBAs

BirdLife also advocates for the better management and connectivity of protected sites and Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBAs), as well as the creation of new ones to help species adapt to climate change by finding new habitats. And when it comes to designating, managing and protecting crucial natural areas, BirdLife has unparalleled knowledge and experience.

Mitigation and renewables

Of course, adapting to climate change isn’t enough, and the report advocates for policy-makers to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, increase energy efficiency (in its broadest sense: from electric cars to changes in lifestyle and a better management of farmland use) and sustainable renewable energy to enable the transition to a low carbon economy.

But when implemented without proper planning, renewable energy infrastructure can make things worse: palm oil plantations displacing tropical forests and wind farms on flyways causing massive bird casualties are clear examples. Proper planning and implementation of renewable energy is paramount, and BirdLife partners have the tools to ensure these solutions do not pose greater threats to nature.

For example, as part of the Renewables Grid Initiative, BirdLife International is helping prevent bird electrocutions on power lines, working with the industry to replace or insulate dangerous poles, strategically locate infrastructure, and develop and implement better practices to reduce bird collisions.

Perhaps most importantly to ensure the climate change mitigation movement keeps its momentum, the report advocates for multi-stakeholder collaboration – working with communities, civil society organisations, the private sector and the government – to come up with effective long-term solutions.

For example, the Association Burundaise for the protection of Nature (ABN, BirdLife in Burundi) is working with the Serukubeze community to better manage their ecosystems in the face of climate change. The community has been empowered to engage with their local government and integrate ecosystem-based adaptation strategies into municipal development plans.

Everyone contributes to climate change and everyone is impacted by it, so raising awareness of the consequences of climate change and potential solutions can help mobilise society to take action and ensure political decisions benefit both people and nature.

Because if climate change is a fact, climate chaos is a choice. One we can, and must, avoid.

See also here.

The RSPB (Royal Society for Protection of Birds, BirdLife in the UK) has been involved in some of the scientific research that has improved our understanding of the effects of climate change. To spread awareness, they have released a new report bringing together scientific evidence on the effects climate change is already having on wildlife across Europe: here.

Italy is creating a ‘nature network’ against urbanisation and climate change: here.

Birds and climate change in the Netherlands: here. In Belarus: here.

French government bans pro-environment marches, helps Volkswagen, ExxonMobil

This Greenpeace video says about itself:

People’s Climate March Australia – November

27 October 2015

Something BIG is happening.

While world leaders gather in Paris, we will be coming together for something far more powerful.

Millions are joining the People’s Climate Movement. Are you in?

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands today:

Fabius, the French Minister of Foreign Affairs has banned two huge marches during the climate summit in Paris because of the terrorist threat.

The marches were scheduled for November 29 and December 12, before the start and after the end of the summit. In Paris and other French cities people were expecting hundreds of thousands of demonstrators. Activists wanted the marches to put governments under pressure to take measures against the emission of greenhouse gases.

The UN summit is from November 30 to December 11.

So, the French government abuses ISIS terror for attacking civil liberties … not of ISIS; not of conservative but non-violent Muslims; not of liberal Muslims; but of the pro-environment movement, most supporters of which in France are non-Muslims.

This ban looks in practice like an unholy alliance between ISIS, anti-democratic politicians and Big Oil and other bigwigs. Big Oil, corporations like ExxonMobil, bankrolling pseudo-science denying climate change. Volkswagen and other cars producing corporations, with their fraudulent polluting products. Now, the Big Oil and similar lobbyists will be able to lobby in the smoke-filled backrooms of the Paris conference without countervailing power of now banned pro-environment demonstrators; if Fabius will have his way.

Paris attacks “only strengthened our resolve”: activists push for massive climate march: here.

Paris climate summit march in doubt after talks deadlock. Activists object to French government proposals to scale down protest on 29 November amid security fears following terrorist attacks: here.

How Exxon Mobil and Koch brothers created a culture of climate doubt: here.

An inherent conflict of interest. Report exposes the truth behind #COP21 corporate sponsors: here.

Birds and climate change, new study

This video shows a lesser redpoll, drinking in the Veluwe region in the Netherlands.

From BirdLife:

Birdwatchers unravel effects of climate change on vulnerable species

By Finlay Duncan, Thu, 22/10/2015 – 09:15

New details on how birds respond to climate change have been revealed by thousands of volunteer bird watchers all over Europe, according to a study BirdLife International has contributed to.

The information gathered, in a report led by the University of Copenhagen, shows birds respond to changing conditions in different seasons of the year. While some species benefit from these changes, birds that are adapted to colder regions stand to lose out. The information gathered can help predict future bird communities in Europe and focus the effort to tackle the effects of climate change on the most vulnerable species.

For example, the evidence seen first-hand by birdwatchers indicates warmer winters benefit resident birds, such as the Short-toed treecreeper and the Collared Dove, with more productive spring times benefiting short-distance migrants such as the Goldfinch and the Wood lark. Warmer or more productive periods complemented the early or peak breeding season for these birds.

The results are based on an incredibly large dataset from 18 different countries collected by volunteers and published in Global Change Biology led by the Center for Macroecology, Evolution and Climate at the University of Copenhagen, together with BirdLife International and the European Bird Census Council.

“We found benefits from conditions observed under climate change for both resident birds, short-distance migrants and long distance-migrants, but at very different times of the year that complement their breeding season. So if we are to predict what the future bird community may look like in Europe, we need to understand how the conditions during breeding will change” says lead-author and Postdoctoral Researcher Peter Søgaard Jørgensen, who conducted the research from the Center for Macroecology, Evolution and Climate.

Climate change pushes cold region birds out

However, the positive effects mentioned above do not extend to species adapted to the colder regions in Europe, such as the resident birds House Sparrow and Carrion Crow and the short-distance migrants Meadow Pipit and Redpoll. They have become relatively less abundant under the respective conditions.

Birds arriving to Europe from furthest away (and therefore later in the year), such as long-distance migrants the Northern Wheatear and Common Redstart, generally benefit from warmer summers in Europe. As a group, however, they showed one of the most complex responses as they are also impacted by climate change in Africa.

Volunteers made the study possible

The results were generated with yearly data on 51 different bird species gathered by around 50,000 volunteers in 18 different European countries between 1990 to 2008.

“This study shows the power of citizen science where highly skilled volunteers collect invaluable data and help to unlock new discoveries”, says Head of Species Monitoring and Research, Richard Gregory from the RSPB.

Global Science Coordinator for Programmes at BirdLife International, Ian Burfield, says: “Of course climate change will favour some species, but studies suggest we will have more losers than winners. That is why the BirdLife Partnership is actively delivering mitigation and adaptation solutions.”

Agricultural intensification causes continuous bird decline

Unfortunately, the study also shows the widespread long-term effects of agricultural intensification in Europe, where farmland birds continue to be in decline. It found long-distance migrants may be particularly vulnerable to the combination of agricultural intensification and climate change.

“Long-distance migrants are already believed to be particularly vulnerable to climate change, as they experience impacts in multiple locations along their busy travel routes that stretch two continents. We found that long-distance migrants in particular were in decline in countries with intensive agriculture expressed through high cereal yields. Our results suggest that we should take action to protect long-distance migrant birds in countries with the most intensified agriculture” says Peter Søgaard Jørgensen.

More information on the study is available from the University of Copenhagen’s Center for Macroecology, Evolution and Climate here.

Meteorological data and recent events provide glaring evidence that climate change is happening and that it will particularly affect poorer and natural resources-dependant countries like Rwanda. The observed shift in the occurrence of the rainy seasons and the dry seasons in certain regions of Rwanda distorts agricultural growing seasons and causes confusion among farmers as it affects the timing of field preparation and planting, crop growth, and increasing incidences of crop diseases and pests resulting in lower agricultural yields: here.

The New York Times reported Thursday that the New York attorney general’s office has sent subpoenas to executives at the energy giant ExxonMobil. The attorney general’s office is seeking access to financial records, emails and other information relating to a period of several decades in which the company may have misled corporate investors about the effects of climate change on the oil giant’s bottom line: here.

Western Australian fish threatened by climate change

This video is called Wildlife of Western Australia.

From the Australian Broadcasting Corporation:

Tropical fish in WA Kimberley facing extinction from climate change, researchers say

By Erin Parke

12 July 2015

Entire species of tropical fish could be wiped out by climate change, according to a research team that has spent months carrying out a study in Western Australia’s north.

The team from the University of Melbourne is looking at how sensitive freshwater species are to small increases in water temperatures.

PhD student Matthew Le Feuvre said the results were cause for concern.

“We’re finding a lot of species are living potentially very close to their maximum thermal limit, so these species will be very sensitive should the climate change in the Kimberley,” Mr Le Feuvre said.

“If water temperatures and air temperatures increase by just a degree or two, you could potentially see a lot of species fail to adapt and go extinct as a result, or at least become far more vulnerable.”

The team focussed on 18 species that are found only in the river systems of the Kimberley.

Until now, little research has been done on the river systems, partly because they are located in remote areas accessible only by helicopter or boat.

The University of Melbourne study involved eight months of trekking and camping in some of the most rugged terrain in Australia, to allow researchers to collect specimens.

“We’ll arrive at a beautiful spot in the Kimberley with a ute and a trailer fully loaded with sampling gear and a tinny, and then we basically throw the whole kitchen sink at it,” Le Feuvre said.

“We use a variety of nets, a baited underwater video camera, and we use an electro-fisher, which basically stuns the fish in the water and then you can scoop them out, which is a really useful tool for sampling fish.

“We also use traditional hook and line fishing techniques and also snorkelling, so we use a whole lot of methods at each site for a couple of days.”

The fish were packed into customised eskies for the 4,000 kilometre flight to laboratories at the University of Melbourne.

Testing Begins

In Melbourne, they were put into a flow-rest barometer, to measure the amount of oxygen they consumed as the water temperature was increased in tiny increments.

That is when the sensitivity of the fish was discovered, Mr Le Feuvre said.

“We’ve found that these species basically fail to function above 34 degrees, which is roughly the temp of the water you find in the Drysdale river in the wet season,” he said.

The Kimberley species were also considered to be highly vulnerable because of their unusually limited range.

“The Mitchell Falls Gudgeon [for example] is only found around the Mitchell Falls, so it’s only known for a couple of kilometres upstream from the falls, and a couple of kilometres downstream from the falls,” Mr Le Feuvre said.

“There’s one species from the Drysdale River that’s only been caught once… so it’s a really rare species and we failed to find it in more than eight months of fieldwork.”

It is hoped the work results in some of the species being added to a national register of threatened species.

While 20 per cent of Australian freshwater fish species are currently included on the register, none of the endemic Kimberley species are listed.

Conservation group Environs Kimberley said the research work was groundbreaking.

“So little research has been done in the remote areas of the Kimberley, and there’s so much more work to be done up there,” said Marine Projects Officer Jason Fowler.

“It’s certainly going to help build a case to protect these river systems.”

Climate change, Pope Francis, United States Republicans, animated cartoon

This animated cartoon video by Mark Fiore from the USA says about itself:

The Gospel of Denial

26 June 2015

Now that Pope Francis has come out on the side of acknowledging human-caused global warming, Republican presidential contenders are suddenly on the side of “science” not religion. Where does this pope guy get off on mixing religion and politics, sheesh! You can read more here.

Coral reefs and climate change

This video says about itself:

Coral Reefs and Climate Change

22 June 2015

Join the Smithsonian Marine Station for a live webcast on Monday, June 22 from 11:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. EST! We will be chatting with Smithsonian scientists working at our Carrie Bow Cay Field Station in Belize about working on this remote island and the future of coral reefs in the face of a changing climate. Submit your questions directly via through the Google+ platform or via Twitter using the hashtag #coralchat

New Zealand scientists voice concern over gagging on climate change. WELLINGTON, June 22 (Xinhua) — New Zealand scientists said Monday that government funding policies have effectively prevented them from making any serious input into the government’s climate change stance: here.