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How climate change is impacting every state bird

  • New Jersey: American goldfinch

    The American goldfinch is the official Garden State fowl along with Iowa and Washington, making the little finch a popular species. Often found in suburbs and backyards, the urban bird can also be found in weedy fields and floodplains, both of which are popular in New Jersey. The species is susceptible to climate change impacts including wildfires, extreme spring heat killing nestlings, and heavy rains destroying nests—which could lead to it finding New Jersey’s summers too hot, and the American goldfinch no longer breeding in the state.

  • New Mexico: Greater roadrunner

    A large cuckoo that prefers to run rather than fly, the greater roadrunner is among the few state birds that like it hot—really hot. Though it does face threats from climate change—such as the impacts of droughts, wildfires and extreme spring heat—the roadrunner looks set to expand its range north in the United States, advancing with desertification. This includes New Mexico, where the roadrunner may expand its range by almost a third in coming decades, to encompass almost the entire state.

  • New York: Eastern bluebird

    In New York, the bluebird’s numbers have increased faster than in most of its range, and the increase looks set to continue, with nesting bluebirds colonizing the north of the state in future decades. Founded in 1882, the New York State Bluebird Society has a strict mission statement to multiply the state fowl with a statewide nest box program since discovering a decline in the species in the 1950s and 1960s. "The 2000-2005 Breeding Bird Atlas for New York State showed an increase of 70% compared with the Atlas of 1980-1985,” reports the society.

  • North Carolina: Northern cardinal

    The Audubon study forecasts that for North Carolina, the cardinal’s population may remain stable, perhaps with some range expansion into upland areas. The prominent-chested and thick-billed bird is popular among dense shrubs and vines, often found sitting hunched over on low branches. While the Tar Heel State bird is popular on the East Coast, it is largely absent west of the Great Plains.

  • North Dakota: Western meadowlark

    The western meadowlark was named North Dakota’s state bird in 1947, but could be eliminated from almost half its current range in the state. While still far-reaching and familiar, some surveys prove the ongoing population has lessened in recent decades, according to the Audubon Society. Similar in color and pattern to its peer the Eastern meadowlark, the western species is quite different: “In the Midwest, [the species] seems to prefer shorter grass and drier fields than the sites chosen by Eastern Meadowlark,” reports the society.

  • Ohio: Northern cardinal

    Also abundant in the Southeast, specifically as Virginia’s state bird, the northern cardinal can be found flying its bright red colors across the Ohio sky. The Audubon study forecasts that for Ohio—where a new report finds severe droughts, inland flooding, wildfires, and landslides will become more common, the cardinal’s population will remain broadly stable.

  • Oklahoma: Scissor-tailed flycatcher

    Inhabiting open country including farmland and ranches, the scissor-tailed flycatcher is a common visitor to the Great Plains. Though facing climate change threats including wildfires and extreme spring heat, it may expand its range northward in Oklahoma, as rising temperatures make northern areas more suited to its requirements for breeding.

  • Oregon: Western meadowlark

    When the western meadowlark was chosen as Oregon’s state bird in 1927, it was among the state’s most abundant and most widely distributed species, but it is now much less common, largely because of destruction of its grassland habitat. As of 2014, Portland Audubon reports the local society fights climate change with several methods such as “preserving mature and old-growth forests that serve as carbon stores,” as well as providing protective habitats for climate-related droughts.

  • Pennsylvania: Ruffed grouse

    The Pennsylvania Game Commission is striving to restore the ruffed grouse population, which has crashed as a result of West Nile virus, along with habitat changes. Despite these efforts, climate change impacts including intensifying rain, rising temperatures and fires becoming more common, may push the grouse out of Pennsylvania; indeed, it may shift out of the 48 conterminous states.

  • Rhode Island: Rhode Island red

    The Rhode Island red is a chicken breed that was developed in this state and Massachusetts. While it should be relatively safe within poultry farms, Rhode Island is home to 43 bird species rated at high or moderate vulnerability to climate change.

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