Posted by: aboutbirds | October 3, 2009

Good News About Birds in the Sierra Nevada


Everything we see these days is usually about bad news. It’s about someone being murdered, a car bomb going off in a distant country killing our troops, or about a food we like that we can’t eat anymore due to it increasing our chances of cancer. I try not to watch the news on TV because its depressing and over sensationalized. It’s awful. Not that online newspapers are much better, though, you just don’t have to listen to them talk with their false pity. Another thing that annoys me, is how they talk about climate change. They don’t understand the science and its forcing us to not know what to believe. That’s the true sad part. Anyway, I found an article in the Sacramento Bee (Californian Newspaper) that has some great news about climate change and birds.

A new study, which is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, shows that many bird species, specifically the ones living in the Sierra Nevada, are highly adaptable. Nearly a century of climate change data in the area demonstrates that birds will move to a new and better habitat if the one they’re living in changes too much. This is true for 48 out of the 52 birds, including western bluebirds. Some of the birds chose warmer habitats and some chose cooler habitats, whatever fit their need best. Over the course of the study, the 82 sites that were studied there was an increase of about 1.4oF and about a quarter inch of rainfall. That’s quite a high increase and its amazing that the bird populations chose to move due to this increase rather than suffer.

The study was initially brought on by Joseph Grinnell, U.C. Berkeley zoologist, who extensively studied the area between 1911 and 1929. Some birds were more sensitive to climate change than others. Most notably, the dusky flycatcher and green-tailed towhee are affected more by temperature changes. The yellow-rumped warbler and the lazuli bunting are more affected by rainfall changes. Most of the other species are affected by both.

This study is great news and it proves that animals can adapt to a changing habitat. The only question is how fast can they adapt.

Pictured – the green-tailed towhee.


‘Till next time – enjoy!


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