pied flycatcher lays an egg!

Many British birds are laying their eggs earlier in the year as a result of climate change, a report by conservation groups claimed yesterday.

The report said birds were being forced to rapidly adapt their behaviour in order to survive, including altering their nesting and migration patterns and travelling further to find food.

Work carried out by the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) surveying 30,000 nests showed species such as the chaffinch and robin are laying their eggs about a week earlier than they did during the 1960s.

Matt Murphy, ornithologist for the Countryside Council for Wales, said climate change was affecting the breeding patterns of pied flycatchers living in Welsh oak woodlands.

heraldscotland, 15 Aug 2008

Bittern boom busted!

Rising sea could end the bittern boom. One of Britain’s rarest birds whose numbers climbed back from near extinction a decade ago faces a new threat from the sea.

Speaking at a conference at the Potteric Carr Nature Reserve in South Yorkshire, Dr Mark Avery, RSPB conservation director, said the Bittern population relied on breeding grounds such as the Minsmere Reserve along the Suffolk coast.

A substantial area of new reed bed will urgently need to be created away from the coast, and the threat of climate change-driven, sea level rise, he said. BBC News, 4 Mar 2008

Zebra finches read IPCC reports!

bird_reading
Scientists have long worried whether animals can respond to the planet’s changing climate. Now, a new study reports that at least one species of songbird—and likely many more—already knows how to prep its chicks for a warming world. They do so by emitting special calls to the embryos inside their eggs, which can hear and learn external sounds.

The idea that the zebra finch (Taeniopygia guttata) parents were “talking to their eggs” occurred to Mylene Mariette, a behavioral ecologist at Deakin University in Waurn Ponds, Australia, while recording the birds’ sounds at an outdoor aviary. She noticed that sometimes when a parent was alone, it would make a rapid, high-pitched series of calls while sitting on the eggs.

She found that parents of both sexes uttered these calls only during the end of the incubation period and when the maximum daily temperature rose above 26°C (78.8°F). Mariette thinks the finches’ ability to prepare their offspring for their future environment makes sense because they live in arid habitats and they breed whenever conditions are good—irrespective of the season.

She adds that these finches show that some animals, at least, aren’t just sitting ducks when it comes to climate change—they may be much better able to adapt to a warming world than we thought.

Science mag, 18 Aug 2016

thanks to ddh

a shadow of their former selves

Songbirds in the US are getting smaller, and climate change is suspected as the cause. A study of almost half a million birds, belonging to over 100 species, shows that many are gradually becoming lighter and growing shorter wings.

This shrinkage has occurred within just half a century, with the birds thought to be evolving into a smaller size in response to warmer temperatures.

Dr Josh Van Buskirk of the University of Zurich, Switzerland and colleagues Mr Robert Mulvihill and Mr Robert Leberman of the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Rector, Pennsylvania, US decided to evaluate the sizes of hundreds of thousands of birds that pass through the Carnegie Museum’s Powdermill ringing station, also in Pennsylvania.

But some species are losing more weight. For example, the rose-breasted grosbeak has declined in mass by about 4%, while the Kentucky warbler has dropped 3.3% in weight and the scarlet tanager 2.3%. The headline finding is that the body sizes of many species of North American birds, mostly songbirds, are gradually becoming smaller, says Dr Buskirk.

Heat Is Online – originally BBCNews.com, 13 Mar 2010

the golden-winged warbler saves the day!

Birds appear to be able to sense a coming storm and fly away before it hits, according to research on golden-winged warblers in the United States.

”It’s the first time we’ve documented this type of storm avoidence behaviour in birds during breeding season,” said ecologist Henry Streby at the University of California.

“There’s growing research that shows that tornadoes are becoming more common and severe with climate change, so evasive actions like the one the warbler took might become more than necessary.” said Streby.

Illawarra Mercury, 20 Dec 2014 – screen copy held by this website

…with few egrets

“I was amazed at the magnificent spectacle; there were egrets nesting in tall trees, birds by the hundreds of thousands,” says George Boland, remembering one of the most famous breeding events in NSW, less than a decade ago, on the farm he managed with his son in the Gwydir Valley near Moree….But the Yarrol station clearing is just one of the litany of disasters to wreak havoc in the Murray-Darling Basin in the past two decades. Massively expanding irrigation, water harvesting by farmers, drought and rising temperatures from climate change are putting the wetlands in the basin under severe stress.
Sydney Morning Herald, 30 Jun 2007 – screen copy held by this website

pity the poor wood warbler!

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and other conservation bodies have regularly warned that climate shifts could have a devastating impact on some species.

Three years ago, Marcel Visser from the Netherlands Institute of Ecology in Heteren collated a number of cases. The North American wood warbler has not adapted its migration pattern to the earlier emergence of caterpillars in its breeding ground, and the Dutch honey buzzard is also failing to adapt to the earlier appearance of wasps, which it eats. BBC News, 8 May 2008

one swallow doesn’t make…

In what experts say is the first documented evidence of the species “overwintering” here, a solitary swallow has been monitored from November to the end of February in a village near Truro, Cornwall.

Paul Stancliffe, a spokesman for the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO), called the discovery “incredible”. As further evidence of climate change, volunteers have also recorded “early returns” by many migrants this year, as well as unseasonably early nesting by birds that ordinarily remain here.
The Telegraph (UK), 16 Mar 2008

help the helmeted honeyeater!

Drought could be threatening Victoria’s state bird emblem, the endangered helmeted honeyeater, with research showing a “significant correlation” between declining rainfall and reduced egg laying.

Bruce Quin, the Department of Sustainability and Environment’s field ornithologist for the helmeted honeyeater, agreed the future of the Victorian bird looked grim. He said the number of breeding pairs at Yellingbo — 50 kilometres east of Melbourne — had fallen to a record low of 11 in the past breeding season, compared with 15 in 1989-90.
The Age (Australia), 20 Apr 2007

smaller babblers and warblers

Australian birds are getting smaller and global warming is probably to blame, new research suggests.

Chief researcher Janet Gardner, from the ANU’s research school of biology, said the results reflected that animals tended to be smaller in warmer climates.

Dr Gardner said the extent of change in the south-eastern Australian species examined, including the grey-crowned babbler, hooded robin and speckled warbler, was surprising.
Sydney Morning Herald, 13 Aug 2009

birds getting bigger

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Birds are getting bigger in central California, and that was a big surprise for Rae Goodman and her colleagues. What’s making the birds bigger? The researchers think that the trend is due to climate change…Climate change may affect body size in a variety of ways, they note in their paper.

For instance, birds might get bigger as they store more fat to ride out severe weather events, which are expected to be more common under global climate change. Climate change could also alter a region’s plant growth, which may eventually lead to changes in a bird’s diet that affect its size.
San Franciso State University News, 31 Oct 2011

birds getting smaller

Australian bird species are getting smaller due to global warming suggest researchers. “Our results demonstrate a generalised response by eight avian species to some major environmental change over the last 100 years or so, probably global warming.” write Dr Janet Gardner and colleagues from the Autralian National University. “It’s the broad-scale, consistent pattern that we’re seeing that makes us conclude that global warming is likely to be causing the changes,” Dr. Gardner told The Associated Press.
ABC (Australia) News 12 Aug 2009

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first victim – rusty blackbird

Refuge ecologist Ed Berg has documented the drying of wetlands on the Kenai Peninsula which apparently began in the late 1960s and accelerated during the 1990s. He attributes the decline of wetlands to warmer summer temperature, which increases evapotranspiration.

The drying of wetlands in the boreal forest areas of Alaska and Canada is predicted to have a detrimental effect on many species of wildlife. The rusty blackbird may be one of the first noticeable victims of this ecological change.Peninsula Clarion, 9 Jun 2006