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How climate change is impacting every state bird

  • Maryland: Baltimore oriole

    Though the Baltimore oriole faces climate change threats including fires damaging and destroying woods where it breeds, along with extreme spring heat killing nestlings, it appears these will mostly impact it in the Plains states. In Maryland, the oriole may even expand its range eastward, though declining a little in the west.

  • Massachusetts: Black-capped chickadee

    In 2017 black-capped chickadee birds were reported as “highly vulnerable” to the negative effects of climate change, according to Mass Audubon, the statewide environmental protection agency. While popular for living in both the suburbs and forest now, the future home of the bird looks bleak, with reports suggesting 2050 climate temperatures as “unsuitable for the species, especially in the eastern part of the state.” The fluffy, black-capped and big-headed bird can walk out onto a twig’s edge for feed due to its tiny size and strong feet.

  • Michigan: American robin

    Citing an IOPScience study, Newsweek reports how climate change is causing a 12-day earlier migration cycle than it did in 1994 for the famous North American birds. The study, which followed 55 American robins strapped with tiny GPS backpacks between 2014–2016, revealed the species began migrating in warm and dry winters rather than in melting snow. “The paper suggests American robins have been able to display some flexibility with their timing to keep up with changes in the climate, but how much extra flexibility they can demonstrate to cope with changing weather patterns is unknown,” reports Newsweek’s Rosie McCall.

  • Minnesota: Common loon

    The common loon is among the quintessential Arctic and subarctic breeding birds, with a yodelling call that is a classic sound of wilderness. Yet with climate change bringing changes such as reduced prey, increased predators and higher temperatures, the loon is facing increasing threats across its range. In Minnesota, one of the fastest-warming states, the loon could disappear by 2080.

  • Mississippi: Northern mockingbird

    The Audubon study suggests the mockingbird population may remain stable in Mississippi while the National Park Service reports climate change effects along the famous river are not. “The River is or may become home to 16 species that are highly sensitive to climate change across their range,” according to the U.S. Department of the Interior. In current climate temperatures, the medium-sized northern mockingbird, which is the state fowl for four other states, feeds heavily on insects and berries when not nestled high on a perch.

  • Missouri: Eastern bluebird

    While birdhouses have helped eastern bluebirds recover from an earlier decline resulting from habitat destruction and loss of nesting sites, it is now vulnerable to climate change, which is adversely affecting its population in the west, while spurring expansion in the east of its range. Bluebird populations look set to remain stable across much of Missouri, with some expansion into areas that were formerly too cool for it to breed in the east.

  • Montana: Western meadowlark

    The western meadowlark may not be at great risk of climate change in Montana. The Audubon study indicates its population will be mostly stable, with slight range expansions as some higher elevation locales become warm enough to afford suitable breeding habitats. However, the long-billed and short-tailed species has declined in the last 20 years, according to National Geographic, noting the bright yellow, black, and gray bird is strongly similar to the eastern meadowlark.

  • Nebraska: Western meadowlark

    The Nebraska state bird, with the bright yellow plumage, is also the regional fowl for Oregon, Kansas, Montana, Wyoming, and North Dakota. While the maximum lifespan for the species is 10 years, it’s grassland environment is evaporating in all the states, according to the Audubon Society, reporting an immediate need for priority conservation areas to protect the species. “For grassland birds to have the best shot at survival, we need to get serious about climate change and immediately reduce carbon pollution,” said Dr. Chad Wilsey, lead author of the Audubon Society’s North American Grasslands & Birds Report.

     

  • Nevada: Mountain bluebird

    The Audubon Society reports a bleak future for the mountain bluebird, burrowing owl, and bald eagle due to climate change, noting all three species could lose up to half of their suitable environment by 2080. In Nevada, this could see it lost from perhaps half its range, with the surviving populations on uplands rather safe from fires that raze its breeding grounds and extreme spring heat that kills nestlings. The mountain bluebird, which nests in several environments, including sagebrush desert, alpine tundra, and mountain meadows, is also the state fowl for Idaho, where it is at high risk due to climate change, as well.

  • New Hampshire: Purple finch

    In 2009, the Audubon Society released the results of a study on changing distributions of birds in winter, showing distributions tending to shift northward—with the purple finch showing the most dramatic change, spending winters 400 miles further north than it used to. The Audubon study of climate vulnerability likewise forecasts the purple finch’s breeding range will shift northward, which could lead to it disappearing from much of its current range in New Hampshire, or even becoming extinct in the state.

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