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Birds Moving North As Warming Increases

Posted By G Monkie On May 17, 2010 @ 12:08 am In Nature / Non Human Stories | No Comments

If you’re one of those who thinks climate change is for the birds, you’re wrong. At least in the metaphoric sense. As for real birds, researchers from Auburn University have discovered a curious behavior pattern that might turn out to be the result of global warming.

As part of the North American Breeding Bird Survey (begun in 1966) that studied the ranges of common birds from Mexico to Canada, Alan Hitch and Paul Leberg observed the breeding patterns of eastern arboreal and semi-arboreal birds (the kind you find in backyards – 56 species in all). Some names with which you might be familiar are the Common Ground-dove, Bachman’s Sparrow, Northern Mockingbird, Bewick’s Wren and the Golden-winged Warbler.

What they discovered was that the birds are migrating north — in a pattern that coincides directly with increasing global temperatures.

The findings would probably be inconsequential if the birds were expanding their ranges in various directions, but of these 56 species, all had moved in a northward direction only. While their findings support a similar study in Great Britain, it is nearly impossible to scientifically draw a direct link between global warming and the bird movement.

Regardless, there is a very real danger, according to one of the researchers, that the birds might out-migrate their food supply, wiping out local populations of some species. Birds can migrate easier than earth-bound species — but if they move north too quickly, they might not find any food there. Maybe they would then evolve into a new species. Or maybe the bird migration is connected to terrestrial migration.

Either way it is clear that global warming is not well understood in terms of its impact on global life. So, there ought to be a huge market for scientists in upcoming years.

Maybe I shouldn’t have gone with Liberal Arts.

For more on the study, click here.

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