Posted by: aboutbirds | September 30, 2009

California’s Endangered Birds

Whether you have no idea what climate change is or don’t care to believe it, here’s a sobering article about the future of bird species in California. In a September 2, 2009 article by the San Francisco Chronicle, a study was released stating the future of birds in California is uncertain due to climate change. Click here for the full article. The study is only a prediction, but that doesn’t mean what they predict can’t happen. This research, conducted by the PRBO (Point Reyes Bird Observatory) Conservation Science, basically states that bird species will either have to adapt or die. They concluded that birds communities will change. This doesn’t mean less birds in a certain community, but the composition of those birds in that community will not be like what we see today. This loss of biodiversity is really what plagues the world today in terms of climate change. We are going through another great extinction.

These are a few points the research concluded upon:

  • Birds will have to move to different habitats, they could negatively impact birds that were already in those habitats
  • As Point Reyes Peninsula gets drier and less foggy, birds such as the California thrasher, rufous-crowned sparrow, and the ash-throated flycatcher will move there. These birds will meet with new birds already on the Peninsula, such as the purple finch and the black-throated grey warbler
  • The white-crowned sparrow will decline by about 76%
  • The varied thrush will decline by about 87%
  • The yellow-billed magpie will decline by about 32%
  • Many forest dwelling birds will decline, however birds like the acorn woodpecker may increase

John Wiens makes a good argument by saying, “Birds are nature’s barometers. If birds occur in different combinations in the future, it’s likely that other organisms such as insects and plants will as well. The reshuffling of bird assemblages that we project may just be the tip of the iceberg.”

That thought is rather saddening, but it makes sense. It’s difficult to gauge many species because they aren’t visible, but you know they’re there. Birds are very conspicuous. When they disappear, warning bells should go off.

This study was only done on a small part of California, but it hopes to expand to about 300 birds that are seen in California. Hopefully, that news won’t be as depressing.

If you would like to learn more, go to the PRBO site and their Avian Data Center site.

‘Till next time – please help conserve our bird diversity!

-Pictured – the varied thrush

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