New Reports Warn of Climate Change’s Impact on Birds

A new report from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service warns some already-stressed bird species face a new threat — climate change:

The latest version of the department’s annual State of the Birds report shows that nearly a third of the nation’s 800 bird species are endangered, threatened or suffering from population decline.

For the first time, the report adds climate change to other factors threatening bird populations, including destruction of habitat, hunting, pesticides, invasive species and loss of wetlands.

The report said that oceanic and shore birds are among the most vulnerable to climate change because of rapidly changing marine ecosystems and rising sea levels.

Warmer temperatures may be having another, more subtle impact — songbirds are getting slightly smaller:

Songbirds in the US are getting smaller, and climate change is suspected as the cause.

A study of almost half a million birds, belonging to over 100 species, shows that many are gradually becoming lighter and growing shorter wings.

This shrinkage has occurred within just half a century, with the birds thought to be evolving into a smaller size in response to warmer temperatures.

However, there is little evidence that the change is harmful to the birds.

We’ll have more on the Fish & Wildlife Service’s report in tomorrow’s Climate Capsule.

Photos via Flickr’s WizardOne and statelibraryofnsw