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How climate change is impacting every state bird

  • South Carolina: Carolina wren

    Since the early 1900s, the Carolina wren has evidently benefited from climate change, expanding northward from the southeast United States, especially as winters warmed. Though the South Carolina population faces threats such as extreme spring heat waves endangering young birds in the nest, it looks set to remain a common resident throughout the state.

  • South Dakota: Ring-necked pheasant

    The ring-necked pheasant is native to Asia. It was introduced to South Dakota in 1898, and has since become a widespread game bird. Though facing climate change threats such as wildfires and spring heat waves that threaten nestlings, its population in the state looks set to remain stable.

  • Tennessee: Northern mockingbird

    The Audubon study suggests the mockingbird population may remain stable in Tennessee. The grayish and white medium-sized bird can be seen nesting in dense berry-producing trees in the suburban areas of the Volunteer State, reports the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, adding that the fowl is quite territorial and is known to “dive and attack” homeowners and their pets when not seeking insects and berries.

  • Texas: Northern mockingbird

    The Lone Star State’s bird has a somewhat stable future in Texas, according to the Audubon study. The northern mockingbird lives year round in the west south-central part of the U.S. and “are found in just about every habitat type in the state,” according to Texas Park and Wildlife, noting that the male species’ constant singing during its breeding display makes it the most famous fowl.

  • Utah: California gull

    It might seem odd that a landlocked state should choose a gull as state bird, but for Utah this stems from the perhaps legendary “Miracle of the Gulls”—which, according to perhaps exaggerated tales, occurred as settlers threatened by a cricket infestation were saved by California gulls that arrived en masse and devoured the crickets.

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  • Vermont: Hermit thrush

    Though hardier in the face of wintry weather than several of its relatives, the hermit thrush is severely threatened by climate change. It’s among species that may shift mostly out of the conterminous 48 states, and could almost disappear from Vermont.

  • Virginia: Northern cardinal

    The Audubon study forecasts that for Virginia, in the midst of its range, the cardinal’s population could stay stable, perhaps with some northern expansion. The extremely territorial male northern cardinal is so space conscious it’s known for “attacking his own reflection in windows and mirrors,” according to the society. The natural habitat for the northern cardinal can be found throughout the Old Dominion State in several areas of its habitat including woodland edges and desert washes.

  • Washington: American goldfinch

    The two subspecies of the American goldfinch are divided by the Cascade Mountains, according to the Seattle Audubon Society, noting the species’ breeding time is in sync with the thistle harvest. The Audubon study reports a moderate vulnerability status for the predominantly yellow, all-season bird often seen nesting in open woods or on the roadside. The American goldfinch mostly feeds off seeds, randomly ravaging for insects.

  • West Virginia: Northern cardinal

    The Audubon study forecasts that for West Virginia, in the midst of its range (similar to Virginia), the cardinal’s population may remain stable, perhaps expanding its range in the north. While the study reports the northern cardinal’s current numbers are seemingly stable, it also notes a widespread and abundant conservation status for the long-tailed songbird, which forages its diet of berries, insects, and seeds in low bushes and high trees.

  • Wisconsin: American robin

    In the 1930s and 1940s, renowned conservationist Aldo Leopold and his students recorded when the robins arrived in spring. Now, according to members of the Aldo Leopold Foundation, the robins arrive three weeks earlier, and some may even stay year-round. The Audubon study forecasts that as the climate changes, increased fires that raze habitats along with more extreme heat killing nestlings will be among factors causing the robin to shift north in the state, perhaps no longer breeding in southern parts of its range.

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