The northern hawk owl, which in North America makes its home largely in the high-latitude boreal forests of Canada, could be in big trouble. So too could Baird’s sparrow, which in summer can be found in parts of Alberta and Saskatchewan.
They are just two of the 314 species that the recent Audubon’s Birds and Climate Change Report says are at risk from global warming, a number that represents more than half of the 588 birds studied for the report.
Of those 314 species, 126 are classified as “climate endangered,” including the northern hawk owl and Baird’s sparrow, while 188 are classified as “climate threatened.” Species in both categories are projected to lose more than 50 per cent of their current climatic range by 2080. The report bases its predictions on three sources — its own Christmas bird count, the North American breeding bird survey and climate estimates described by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change — and covers four time periods: the 2000s, the 2020s, the 2050s and the 2080s.
It’s not all bad news, however. Gary Langham, the study’s lead author and Audubon’s chief scientist, told the New York Times that the report “shows that many species will continue in their current abundance and, mostly, their current locations: American robins, red-tailed hawks, western scrub jays, western meadowlarks, northern cardinals and northern mockingbirds.”
In the video above, the National Audubon Society explains some of the report’s findings, how climate change affects birds and what people can do to help protect birds.