Thursday, April 29, 2010

Global Warming Takes Its Toll on Bird Species

By Jonathan Madden

Global warming causing climate changes around the world may not just effect temperatures, but migratory birds as well. According to The National Wildlife Federation, climate change is changing waterfowl habitats, food sources, and migration cycles.

"Migratory birds are particularly vulnerable because of their use of several habitats during migration as stopover sites for feeding, resting or to sit out bad weather," Said Bert Lenten, Executive Secretary of the AEWA Agreement.

Though many species of waterfowl and migratory birds are effected by teh change in climate, according to the U.N., habitat change is expected to hit the Actic and other high latitude regions the hardest. Habitat loss within this region will furthermore hurt migratory birds by elminating stopover spots and preventing them from finishing their migrations.

In some cases, climate changes have already shown signs amongst certain species which include birds starting their migrations earlier, change of routes, or the abandonment of migration.

"Examples include cranes which normally migrate to Spain and Portugal but now stay in Germany... they are not used to low temperatures, there is a danger that most of them wouldnot survive a hard winter in Germany," Lenten said.

Areas of North America may be greatly impacted by the climate change as well, including species of birds living wihtin the Pacific, Central, Mississippi and Atlantic Flyways. In areas like the Atlantic Flyway, which spans from Florida up the coast to Quebec, global warming is expected to affect the timing and distance of waterfowl migration. Ducks are amongst the species of birds affected in North America such as the Canvasback Duck, Blue-winged Teal, Mallard, and Northern Pintail.

Migratory species are particularly more vulnerable to climate change than other species of bird because they require separate and defined breeding, wintering and stop-over sites. Any changes to one of these habitats could be disasterous and put them at extreme risk. With certain species already on teh threatened list, many more may receive endangered status if temperatures continue to rise.

According to a report by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, "In the past year alone, 26 of the 1,226 species on their red list of threatened bird species became more endangered, while only 2 species improved in status."

Though evidence of the damages to bird species caused by climate change continues to mount, further damage can be inhibited. According to the U.N. it's not too late to help birds cope with climate change. The protecting of key stopover and nesting habitats could prove to make a critical difference in some species' survival.

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