Global Warming is making our temperatures and ocean levels to rise at a rapid rate (Carey 3321). This behavior has become a threat to our biodiversity. Biodiversity is defined as the basis of all life on planet earth. The term biodiversity has become a popular topic today because people are beginning to understand the importance of biodiversity. Moreover, rapid climate change is putting species at risk of extinction because these species cannot adapt to such rapid changes in a short amount of time. Biodiversity is a broad-topic, therefore in this paper, I will focus on the effects of climate change on migratory birds, with emphasis on how climate change is affecting bird’s migration and their breeding habitats.
The Earth temperature is rising rapidly and due to rapid climate change, birds have shifted their migration pattern. Some birds have delayed their departure, and other birds have arrived earlier or later to their end destination (Carey 3325). Climate change is especially affecting birds in Europe. The Pied Flycatcher is a long distance migrant bird that lives in South Africa during the winter and migrates to Europe to find a breeding site (Coppack & Both 371). Climate change has changed the timing of migration of these birds. If they arrive too early to their breeding ground, they may face starvation. On the other hand, if they arrive too late, their chances of finding a partner to reproduce with are slim (371). In fact, about 30 bird species in Central Europe have delayed their departure time in the fall, and in the spring, they have arrived earlier than their normal arrival time (Carey 3326). When extreme weather hits, birds tend to migrate to a more comfortable place (Coppack and Both 369) because birds are highly sensitive to temperature changes (Carey 3325). In addition, the population of long distance migratory birds is declining since these birds travel thousands of kilometers, and long distance migratory birds need a place to rest and get food to refuel and continue their long flight. Furthermore, the habitats they depend on are being affected by climate change (Coppack and Both 370). Because they cannot stop to rest, long distance migratory birds have shortened their migration (369). However, it is unknown to what is going to happen to long migratory birds in the future as the world gets warmer (375).
Moreover, climate change is also affecting birds breeding habitat. Birds rely on food to survive in the environment and if there is not enough food, they must migrate to other places or change their diet. Most birds eat and feed their off-spring insects such as caterpillar (Carey 3327). However, climate change is causing food shortages because their habitats are being destroyed (3326). Also warm spring weather is causing insects to hatch earlier, meaning that when the bird’s offspring hatch later, there won’t be enough food for the offspring (Both et al. vol. 441). This may lead population to decline because birds cannot feed their offspring. Therefore, climate change has become the top threat to migratory birds.
The effect of climate change on migratory birds is becoming a concern in the media. New York Times reporter Anthony DePalma wrote an article about birds being at risk of extinction because of climate change. In DePalma’s article, he presents a study called Watchlist 2007. Watchlist 2007 is an analysis that lists species that are in danger. According to DePalma’s article, 178 species in the United States are in danger, and they could be at risk of extinction. DePalma also mentions that some birds are losing their habitat because of extreme weather. Moreover, Gary Wisby, from the Chicago-Sun Times, reports that migratory birds are disappearing from Chicago, and moving to the north as temperatures increases. Wisby says that climate change is destroying wetlands in Illinois. In addition, Wisby introduces Douglas Inkley, who is part of the National Wildlife Federation, and Inkley states that birds “by the year 2050, up to one-third of [birds] could be 'committed to extinction'” (Inkley). Overall, the media is doing a decent job on portraying the problem with migratory birds because the reporters have included in their reports statistics that are understandable. In addition, the reporters have found experts to inform the readers about the serious problems climate change has on migratory birds, and what could happen to them in the future.
In conclusion, climate change is the top threat to migratory birds. Our earth is facing serious environmental problems due to high temperatures. Moreover, the climate is changing the timing of migration. Several migrant birds are arriving to their breeding grounds earlier than expected. Also, the habitat that migratory birds depend on is in danger of disappearing. Due to change in migration pattern and habitat loss, many bird species could become extinct. To further understand this problem, we can use radar technology to track migratory birds. By using radar technology, we will be able to see if birds are arriving to their end destination earlier or late. In addition, we can also see if birds are delaying or advancing their departure. This will help us get some data, and we can compare this data with previous years and the upcoming years as temperature gets warmer.
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- Carey, Cynthia. "The Impacts of Climate Change on the Annual Cycles of Birds." Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 364.1534 (2009): 3321-330. Web of Science. Web. 26 Apr. 2011.
- Coppack, Timothy, and Christiaan Both. "Predicting Life-cycle Adaptation of Migratory Birds to Global Climate Change." Ardea ns 90.3 (2003): 369-78. Print.
- DePalma, Anthony. "A Rising Number of Birds at Risk." The New York Times 01 Dec. 2007, Final ed., Section B sec.: 2. LexisNexis Academic. Web. 26 Apr. 2011.
- Wisby, Gary. "Half of Migratory Birds in Chicago May Disappear; Many Heading North as the Globe Warms up." Chicago Sun-Times 16 Dec. 2004, NEWS sec.: 20. LexisNexis Academic. Web. 26 Apr. 2011.