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Peoria Audubon Society Weighs in On Climate Change Report

February 23, 2009

John Mullen, the Vice President of the Peoria Audubon Society, has weighed in on the recent report by the National Audubon Society linking bird migration to climate change.

“There is quite a bit of anecdotal evidence and some firm physical data that shows local bird migration and over wintering patterns changing over the last several years. For example, this winter I have been getting an increasing number of calls of sightings of large numbers of robins in the area. While it hasn’t been unusual to see some flocks over winter here, we usually don’t get the really big flocks until March. While birds fluctuate their movements in relationship to a number of factors such as habitat, weather patterns, bird feeders and changing landscapes, one probable reason for these large numbers over wintering is the increasingly mild winters. Now, some would say that January & February weren’t exactly mild, but when the temperatures across the full winter are compared with the past, they will probably compare as relatively mild (hence a few days recently of 60+ degrees). As robins, like some other birds, will only move south as is utterly necessary for survival, and as the “warming” winters continue, we may see more of this.

In the National Audubon Society report, Birds and Climate Change: Ecological Disruption in Motion, data was used from the Christmas Bird Count and showed that nearly 60% of the 305 species found in North America in winter are on the move, shifting their ranges northward by an average of 35 miles. More than 60 species moved over 100 miles north. This has a variety of impacts on future populations of birds, whether it’s those birds like the snowy owl which has no where farther north to go or others who are obligate to certain habitats and thus may get disrupted from such habitats if they spend winters too far north and severe weather fluctuations occur that drive them out. There is also the potential for increased competition as ranges of one species pushes into another. The fact of the matter is, we just don’t know the full impact upon the fleet of species that grace our skies and bring such sweet sound to our ears and make the world the beautiful place that it is when these vast changes occur in such a short period. If history tells us anything in this regard, the results are typically not positive.”

John Mullen

Vice President, Peoria Audubon Society


To view the original posting, click here.

To read more about the report, visit the National Audubon Society “Birds and Climate Change” here.

To view or download the full report from the National Audubon Society, click here.

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