Audubon reveals how climate change is accelerating the extinction of many bird species


Connecticut Audubon Society hosted its first of five Young, gifted and crazy about birds online presentations on Wednesday, February 3. It was originally scheduled for January 19 but was postponed.

Dr Brooke Bateman led the ‘Birds tell us it’s time to act on climate change’ program to share the link between birds and climate change.

According to the Connecticut Audubon Society, “Dr. Brooke Bateman is the senior climatologist for the National Audubon Society. She is based in Stony Brook, NY, and has conducted groundbreaking research into how climate change affects birds. She also explained how protecting birds and mitigating climate change can go hand in hand.

Bateman began his presentation by sharing that since 1970 nearly 3 billion birds have been wiped out.

“One in four birds is gone, gone, no longer flies through our air due to changes, mostly that have happened because of human influences,” she said.

She pointed out that climate change is “a threat multiplier” where birds that are already experiencing harsh conditions are then more severely affected.

Bateman explained that since the climate crisis and biodiversity go hand in hand, policies must address them at the same time.

“We can no longer think about it independently…they are intertwined, and these crises are only going to continue if we don’t act now to help address them,” she said.

Future Warming Scenarios

Bateman spoke about future warming scenarios and how the global warming average is not on track to meet its target, which may mean irreversible damage and more bird losses.

“We did that in Survival by Degrees, our 2019 report. We assessed birds in North America to see how they could potentially be affected by climate change under these climate change scenarios,” said she declared.

An example provided by Bateman concerned the wood thrush, which is a species that would be “highly vulnerable to climate change” and would lose a considerable amount of its range if we do not meet the global target.

“Audubon science shows that two-thirds of North American bird species are at risk of extinction due to climate change,” she said in her slide.

In addition to the Wood Thrush, other birds currently vulnerable to the climate and on the Partners in Flight watch list are the Baird’s Sparrow, Bobolink, Canada Warbler, Cerulean Warbler, Chestnut Sparrow, Wood Jay, Golden-winged Warbler, Greater Sage-Grouse, Marbled Godwit, Mountain Plover, Piping Plover, Swamp Sparrow, Semipalmated Sandpiper, Sprague’s Pipit and Blackbird.

Connecticut Birds

Bateman pointed out that unless action is taken to stabilize climate change, Connecticut’s bird species will be lost forever.

She shared, “Forest birds in general are in trouble. Forests are home to some of the most climate-vulnerable groups of species.

In total, there are 225 species of climate-vulnerable birds in boreal, western, subtropical and eastern forests. Since 1970, birds in the eastern forest alone have declined by 170 million.

Meanwhile, 60% of coastal birds are also at risk, including one of Bateman’s favorite birds: the piping plover.

“I want to emphasize that it’s not just grim and catastrophic…there’s good news,” Bateman said. “If we act now on climate change, we can actually improve the odds of 76% of these threatened species, meaning they will be less vulnerable to climate change and suffer less range loss.”

Climatic factors

Bateman noted that there are nine existential climate factors: sea level rise, spring drought, meteorological fires, cropland expansion, heavy rains, extreme spring heat, false springs and urbanization.

She explained, “You might not think urbanization is linked to climate change, but it is because going forward, we anticipate more warming in the United States. There will be more people leaving rural areas, abandoning agriculture and moving to cities. Because of this, cities will expand and we will have more suburban sprawl.

If nothing is done to prevent climate change, Connecticut will likely see many of these factors at once that will affect not only birds, wildlife, and habitats, but people as well.

“Every species we looked at – all 605 species – is going to be affected by climate change. No species is going to escape climate change. That means all the birds in your backyard and by proxy, so are you,” Bateman said.

With that in mind, she recommends that everyone protect the places birds need now and in the future (climate adaptation), as well as urge action at the state and federal levels to address the root of change. climate (climate mitigation).

Natural Solutions

When it comes to what can be done to help birds during the climate emergency the world finds itself in right now, there are natural climate solutions. These are actions that involve the protection, management or restoration of a territory.

In Bateman’s presentation, she specifically cited the need to protect forests, wetlands and grasslands; better manage forest land, cropland and pasture; and restore forests and wetlands.

“Natural climate solutions can cost-effectively deliver around a third of the climate action needed by 2030. The good thing about them is that they are available now and proven to work. It’s something that we know works, that we can do now, and that anyone can do,” she said.

Audubon released his report “Natural Climate Solutions: Maintaining and Restoring Natural Habitats to Help Mitigate Climate Change” as a way forward to understand where support can be given to birds and climate change can be stabilized simultaneously.

Looking specifically at Connecticut, Bateman said 85% of the state has the potential to maintain or restore areas.

“There are a lot of things you can do even in your own backyard,” she says.

Concluding his presentation, Bateman put it simply: what’s good for birds is also good for stabilizing climate change.

To review the two reports Bateman worked on that were mentioned in this article, visit Survival By Degrees at and Natural Climate Solutions at

To watch his full presentation, visit

Upcoming programs

The next episode of Young, gifted and crazy birds will be “High Tide for Salt Marsh Birds” by Sam Apgar.

According to Tom Andersen, director of communications for Audubon in Connecticut, “Sam is a doctoral candidate at the University of Connecticut and is working on the final stages of her dissertation. She is studying how sea level rise affects the swamp sparrow. salt pans, flapping rail, willow, and sea sparrow, all of which nest in Connecticut’s tidal marshes.

Be sure to check The Newtown BeeFebruary 18 print edition for the cover of this presentation.

Other online programs are:

“How Drawing and Painting Can Help You Connect With the World of Birds” by Jenny Kroik on March 3 at 7 p.m.;

“Grassland Birds Thrive in the Least Likely Place” by Shannon Curley, PhD, New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, and Jose Ramirez-Garofalo, PhD student, Rutgers University, March 24 at 7 p.m.; and

“Barn Swallows Under the Light” by Murry Burgess, PhD student, North Carolina State University, April 21 at 7 p.m.

To register for upcoming presentations, visit

Journalist Alissa Silber can be reached at

Dr. Brooke Bateman, chief climatologist of the National Audubon Society, led an online presentation titled “Birds tell us it’s time to act on climate change” on February 3. This was the first of five lectures for young, gifted, and Wild About Birds series.

Dr Brooke Bateman’s presentation shared that unless action is taken to stabilize climate change, bird species such as the ant bird, pictured, in Connecticut will be lost forever.


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