"When it comes to global warming, the canary in the coal mine isn't a canary at all. It's a purple finch.
As the temperature across the U.S. has gotten warmer, the purple finch has been spending its winters more than 400 miles farther north than it used to.
And it's not alone.
An Audubon Society study to be released Tuesday found that more than half of 305 birds species in North America, a hodgepodge that includes robins, gulls, chickadees and owls, are spending the winter about 35 miles farther north than they did 40 years ago.
Over the 40 years covered by the study, the average January temperature in the United States climbed by about 5 degrees Fahrenheit. That warming was most pronounced in northern states, which have already recorded an influx of more southern species and could see some northern species retreat into Canada as ranges shift....
The sandhill crane, a large gray bird that migrates to the southern U.S. for the winter, has a range that expanded about 40 miles north in the last 40 years. This small movement has likely contributed to the bird's population explosion in Tennessee. The sandhill population has grown to a point that state wildlife officials are considering allowing the bird to be hunted."
Maybe Jodi DeLong or Nancy Bond can confirm this for me, but I believe 25 years ago a pair of mourning doves in Nova Scotia was unusual enough to make the newspaper birding column. Now they're a very common sight at the winter feeders. And add to this study the report that trees are migrating north as well, and I think we're going to be looking at very different Northern North American forests 100 years from now.
Addendum: I read the article yesterday so forgot some of the specifics. The migration of trees might not be fast enough to transform the forests in 100 years, but if we have rapid enough climate change, we'll see changes 100 years from now just the same.
Also from the star tribune today, re: your post on ethanol. Just sayin', these things come out all the time...
Amanda--So global warming doesn't exist? Enviornmental degradtion doesn't exist? It's not just science talking here, like with ehtanol--it's also personal observation, vast and vaster amounts of it everywhere (not just at the Star Trib). Maybe these reports come out all the time because there's something to them? Don't get me started. We don't live as part of this earth in any form or fashion. I DID see a pro ethanol article today, fyi. But my mind is made up--been to too many lectures here at UNL.
Sarah--I first read about forest migration in Bill McKibben's The End of Nature. And as your article states, will warming outpace the trees move north? Will birds migrate with the trees, or outpace them? And sure, this stuff happens in the earth's history, but never so fast, never with such force. Ice cores tell us this (along with deep sea soil samples).
No no no. My comment had nothing to do with global warming. That's happening fo' sho'. I was pointing out that another ethanol study had come out -- and remember I said that another one would come out next week singing ethanol's praises, or some such thing? Remember? Stop yelling at me. I'm not saying what you should believe regarding ethanol; I'm not arguing with you. I'm just SAYING that I was right: studies come out all the time, contradicting each other. You can't really rely on them. I'm sure you've formed an educated opinion. Ha.
Let me rephrase: In my field, I see ETHANOL studies come out all the time. You can't rely on any one study. Don't tell at me. Please?
Amanda--We are cool. I rely on you now to keep it real here. I no tell at you, but I can gets pretty worked up on a dime, yo, about some things and I shouldn't--because that's what doesn't work with people. I have to go to Chicago now. Bye.
Growing up we never saw Brown Pelicans along the Virginia shore, now they are numerous enough to be ignored. Last winter a Sandhill Crane hung out in the corn field next to my parents house, and this was an extremely rare sighting. This year there were three of them. I am sure there is climate change afoot, and those that can adapt will survive. The less flexible may have another fate.
"Earth is running a fever," says one of my friends...
Not only are birds headed north some have quit heading south in the winter.
It's surprising how many reports of first sighting of robins have been made around here this winter - but they never left. One person even spotted a great blue heron last month. And while there have always been geese and ducks that hung around there are more and more every year.
Les--A lot of species will be lost because they aren't felxible, or so into their niches. Maybe that's just how it is, but the cause is the ultimate sadness. I remember hearing about your sandhill crane last year. Now more? Wow.
TM--And soon to be on life support.
WA--I know geese are like that, and I feel like I've seen more this winter, but the day robins stick around is the day you really know something is up.
I saw some articles on changes in the migratory patterns of birds and their over-wintering patterns, all showing a northern trend - but boy, I didn't hear that Tenn might at some point allow hunting of Sandhill cranes. That is a bit heart-breaking.
(And not to stir up trouble, and I'm most certainly not from corn country - but I thought the ethanol debate was...over...and out? I know that there are lingering lobby groups still pushing it, but as far as I can tell, it doesn't save on total energy costs over gasoline, in fact, it's a bit higher...and I'll say all of this with the caveat that I'm a microbiologist - who is fascinated by anaerobic bacteria generating cheap electricity...)
Pam--Ethanol debate is raging. Corn-based ehtanol will not go away for a long time, alas. What about cellulosic ethanol?
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