The State of the Birds: 2010 Report on Climate Change

Seabirds such as Northern Gannets are susceptible to climate change. Warming water temperatures push their main prey, mackerel, further below the ocean’s surface. Credit: USFWS
Gannet. Credit: USFWS

Birds are telling us an important story about climate change.

The State of the Birds: 2010 Report on Climate Change, released in March by the Service and other leading conservation organizations, shows that climate change threatens to further imperil hundreds of species of migratory birds that are already under stress from habitat loss, proliferation of invasive species and other environmental risks. The report provides the first comprehensive assessment of how birds may be vulnerable to global warming across the United States.

“For well over a century, migratory birds have faced stresses such as commercial hunting, loss of forests, use of DDT and other pesticides, loss of wetlands and other key habitat, introduction of invasive species and other impacts of human development,” said Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar. “Now they are facing a new threat – climate change – that could dramatically alter their habitat and food supply and push many species toward extinction.”

In the Northeast, coastal and oceanic birds are particularly vulnerable to climate change. Other birds would lose important forest and grassland habitats.

The first State of the Birds report in 2009 revealed troubling declines of bird populations in the United States during the last 40 years – a warning of the failing health of our ecosystems. Both years, the report has highlighted conservation efforts that can make a positive difference in restoring habitats and reversing declines.

Bicknell's thrush. Credit: T.B. Ryder

Loss of alpine forest breeding areas could have dire consequences for the Bicknell's thrush. Credit: T.B. Ryder

Piping plover. Credit: Gene Nieminen

Shorebirds such as the piping plover (pictured here), roseate tern and American oystercatcher will lose nesting and feeding areas as sea level rises. Credit: Gene Nieminen

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