Endangered North American Birds


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Climate change is threatening species right in your back yard. This year's State of the Birds report from Audubon and others chronicles how shifting global temperatures are changing the habitats, ranges, and populations of birds across North America.

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Endangered North American Birds

  1. 1. Eight of North America’sMost Threatened Birds<br />Climate change is threatening species right in your back yard. This year's State of the Birds report from Audubon and others chronicles how shifting global temperatures are changing the habitats, ranges, and populations of birds across North America. <br />March 23, 2010<br />
  2. 2. Horned Puffin<br />Where it’s found: The open ocean, sea cliffs, and rocky islands off the West Coast, from Alaska to Washington.<br />Why it's threatened: They nest on islands threatened by rising sea levels and feed on declining populations of marine fish and invertebrates – many of which are themselves threatened by warming ocean temperatures. Horned Puffins give birth to only one chick per year, and providing it with food can put enormous strain on the parents.<br />Its prospects: Minimizing threats such as pollution, habitat destruction, fishing practices that unintentionally trap seabirds, and over-harvesting of the birds’ food sources can help offset some of the effects of climate change.<br />istockphoto<br />
  3. 3. Ivory Gull <br />Where it’s found: Coastal areas in the Arctic Circle.<br />Why it's threatened: Ivory Gulls often live on sea ice, spending most of their lives afloat in the Arctic Ocean. They move inland to breed, relying on glaciers and sea ice to protect their young from predators. <br />Its prospects: Coastal bird populations are expected to shift northward as climates warm, following their food sources and seeking suitable breeding grounds. High Arctic species such as the Ivory Gull, though, are particularly vulnerable because they can’t migrate much farther north – they’re running out of land.<br />Anita Gould/Flickr<br />
  4. 4. Snowy Owl<br />Where it’s found: Tundra and grasslands, at latitudes above 60 degrees, occasionally migrating as far south as Texas in search of food.<br />Why it's threatened: Changes in weather patterns and tundra habitats threaten the Snowy Owl’s food sources, including lemmings and other rodents. When food is scarce, Snowy Owls must drastically extend their hunting range or resort to eating the eggs and chicks of other birds.<br />Its prospects: Minimizing human impact in Arctic areas could help offset the effects of a warming climate and changes in tundra habitats, but the biodiversity of Arctic and alpine birds will decline unless atmospheric carbon emissions are cut.<br />istockphoto<br />
  5. 5. Laysan Duck<br />Where it’s found: Dense stands of grasses and shrubs on the northwestern Hawaiian islands.<br />Why it's threatened: Fewer than 1,000 Laysan Ducks remain, making the population extremely vulnerable to natural disasters, invasive species, and habitat disturbances. The ducks often nest close to shore, making them vulnerable to rising sea levels.<br />Its prospects: Programs to control invasive plants and animals should help the Laysan Duck and other island bird populations. “Translocating” ducks to other islands could further stabilize the population and help it find suitable habitat.<br />Kanalu Chock/Flickr<br />
  6. 6. Lucy’s Warbler<br />Where it’s found: Near rivers and streams in the desert Southwest, from California to Texas.<br />Why it's threatened: Lucy's Warbler lives solely in mesquite forests – thin oases of vegetation along river banks in otherwise arid regions – eating caterpillars, beetles, and other insects that live in these forests (also called “bosques”). When desert rivers and streams dry up, as is expected to happen due to climate change, the Warbler's habitat and food sources will follow.<br />Its prospects: Lucy's Warbler and other birds in the desert Southwest will have to extend their ranges to the north and east if they’re to find enough water, vegetation, and food to survive.<br />SearchNet Media/Flickr<br />
  7. 7. Marsh Wren<br />Where it’s found: Cattail marshes and salt marshes across North America.<br />Why it's threatened: The Marsh Wren attaches its nests to tall plants such as cattails and reeds for protection. As large swaths of marshland are drained for development or dry up due to climate change, the wren will lose its breeding habitat. Pollution from chemicals and agricultural fertilizers also accumulate in wetlands, causing further disruption.<br />Its prospects: Rising temperatures without accompanying increases in rainfall, both predicted consequences of climate change, mean that many wetland areas will dry up. As marshes become sparse, these birds may be forced to live in areas laden with harmful pollutants.<br />Dan Dzurisin/Flickr<br />
  8. 8. Bobolink<br />Where it’s found: Grassy prairies across southern Canada and the northern United States.<br />Why it's threatened: Bobolinks are long-distance migrators, flying south from North America to winter in the grasslands of Argentina. The loss of grassy prairies on both continents has contributed to the Bobolink's declining population. Because they travel so far, Bobolinks may not be able to adapt quickly enough to habitat changes associated with global warming.<br />Its prospects: Although the Bobolink is not yet threatened, scientists predict its numbers will continue to decline with the loss of grassy habitat and the added pressures of climate change.<br />Kelly Colganazar/Flickr<br />
  9. 9. Whip-poor-will<br />Where it’s found: Woodlands across the eastern half of North America.<br />Why it's threatened: Whip-poor-wills are specialized insectivores, feeding on moths and beetles that they catch mid-flight. Warmer temperatures have taken a toll on these insects, leading to declines in the Whip-poor-will population. Like other North American birds, the Whip-poor-will is also a victim of habitat destruction.<br />Its prospects: The Whip-poor-will's range will probably extend northward and to higher elevations, along with its forested habitat, as temperatures warm. Protecting forests from the effects of climate change is essential to protecting the Whip-poor-will and other forest bird populations.<br />Carol Vinzant/Flickr<br />