More Birds Flying North for the Winter

Purple Finch

A study released today by the Audubon Society has found that a significant number of North American bird species have changed their migratory patterns over the last 40 years, finding more Northern homes for the winter, likely as a result of increased temperatures over the United States during that time period.

Of the 305 species observed during the Society’s annual Christmas Bird Count over the last four decades, nearly 60% have shifted their winter homes further North, some as far away as 400 miles from their homes of the 1960’s. According to the report, this Northern shift of 177 observed bird species has occurred at the same time average temperatures of the coldest month, January, over the continental United States have increased more than five degrees Fahrenheit.

It is not what each of these individual birds did. It is the wide diversity of birds that suggests it has something to do with temperature, rather than ecology.
– Greg Butcher, study lead scientist and director of bird conservation, Audubon Society

Several species have also shifted away from more temperate coastal areas to previously inhospitable inland abodes.

Map - Bird migration changes; APFigure 1: Migration changes for 20 bird species; Graphics source: AP; Data sources: Audubon Society, NOAA

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One thought on “More Birds Flying North for the Winter

  1. The report only goes up through 2005-2006. So it shows the natural world is not the rigid, glass-like bio-sphere environmentalist like to portray it, where the slightest change from a mythical norm happens and everything shatters and dies. The birds adapt with normal climate shifts.

    I would like to see the results starting 2007-2008 when the winter temps dropped to multiple below zero for sustained periods. No doubt, the birds are ending up farther south than before.

    So what’s the point?

    Posted by Philosopher | February 10, 2009, 11:51 pm

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