Commentary: As a birder, I see the effects of climate change every day. Now, Audubon has quantified the threat | 10/11/2019 | Staff
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For serious birders who regularly observe birds in the wild, ignoring climate change isn't possible. We have been seeing and documenting the effects of a warming climate since at least the 1950s.

In recent decades, that has meant a consistent northward shift in where species are found. Glossy black great-tailed grackles, previously found primarily in the tropics, first reached southeastern California in 1964; they now stalk and squawk around lowland ponds throughout most of the state. Big tropical seabirds named boobies (because early sailors took their tameness for stupidity) rarely appeared in California's coastal waters before the 1990s. Now we see dozens offshore from San Diego to the Channel Islands, with some as far north as San Francisco; a few have reached Alaska.

Patterns - Continent - Scores - Species - Range

Similar patterns are playing out across the continent as scores of species redraw their range maps, appearing in new areas farther north and vanishing from sites farther south. And the pace is accelerating.

New research from the National Audubon Society released on Thursday highlights the dangers of the trend. For its new report, "Survival by Degrees," Audubon scientists analyzed the current geographic ranges of 604 North American bird species, and modeled how those ranges would change at different levels of warming.

Temperature - Rise - Degrees - Celsius - Two-thirds

At a global temperature rise of three degrees Celsius, they found that 389 of those species—or nearly two-thirds of those studied—would become endangered, losing much of their current habitat. Even if some could shift their range northward, they would soon start to run out of room on the map.

Ironically, the changes will make birding more exciting for a while, with birders finding new species in unexpected places, but the downside will be brutal. If warming continues unchecked, Audubon's models show, many birds will lose massive amounts of territory.

Owls - Yosemite - Sierra - Nevada - Range

Majestic great gray owls will vanish from Yosemite and the Sierra Nevada range,...
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