Baltimore Without Orioles?

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Photo by Patty McGann/Flickr Creative Commons
Photo by Patty McGann/Flickr Creative Commons

Global warming isn’t just bad news for humans; it also poses dire risks for birds–including the iconic Baltimore oriole–according to a new study by the National Audubon Society.

The study examined hundreds of bird species, looking at how they adapt (or fail to adapt) to changes in climate. The news was not good: 126 species, or more than 20 percent of those studied, can expect “severe declines” as soon as 2050; a further 188 species could see significant declines by 2080.

One of the species at risk of abandoning its traditional habitat by 2050 is the Baltimore oriole. The bird isn’t necessarily expected to go extinct, at least not right away; instead, it will most likely travel where the temperatures are cooler. Boston Orioles, anyone?

Other species might not be so well-suited to adapt to predicted changes in climate. “Every plant and animal is finely tuned to where it lives. When you change the fundamentals of that space, it throws it off, shifts things,” the study’s lead author and Audubon’s chief scientist Gary Langham told the Washington Post. “A grassland bird can’t go to the desert and an ocean bird can’t live in woodlands. They are finely, finely tuned to the particular conditions where they thrive.”

Langham noted that only around nine bird species have gone extinct in North America since 1600, while hundreds of species will be at risk of extinction by the end of the century.



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