Over One Hundred Texas Birds Could Be at Risk From Climate Change

Sep 10, 2014

From StateImpact Texas:

Over three hundred species of birds are at risk from climate change in North America, according to a report from the National Audubon Society. Many of them can be found in Texas.

Brian Trusty, Executive Director of Audubon Texas, says the study has identified over one hundred Texas species that run the risk of losing significant habitat due to climate change (see below for details on this list).

These are birds species that “will see a significant change and or reduction of the climate suitable habitat over the next 10, 40 or 60 years,”  Trusty tells StateImpact Texas.

The report used projected migration paths to determine the fate of bird species. It also pulled from bird “census” data, like the Christmas Bird Count, to determine traditional nesting ranges, and preferred weather conditions of bird species.

“We were utilizing over a hundred years collected from data to pinpoint the suitable climate areas of the home ranges of those species,” says Trusty.

That information was run against projections of the impacts of climate change. As global warming trends alter environmental conditions, species will have to find different seasonal homes that fulfill their needs or disappear.

The Golden-Cheeked Warbler, for example, is at risk depending on how the juniper-oak woodlands of central Texas fare in the future.

Common birds like the black vulture and Ferugunous Hawk of the Texas panhandle also make the list.

“We are already starting to see these types of changes happening in the fauna of Texas,” says Trusty.

Some bird watchers have already noticed birds moving outside their traditional ranges in Texas, which could have wider repercussions for ecosystems in which the birds thrive.

While the Audubon report website highlights 50 birds in Texas, a list of all the birds the society says may be threatened can be found here. The Pacific Golden Plover, and the Black Bill Magpie are included on this list though the Audubon Society says their prospects under climate change projections is still “being vetted.”

Audubon Climate Study Priority Habitat Areas