Climate Change: the Birds and the Bees

Erin Potter, Columnist

Climate change is impacting the birds and the bees, quite literally. Behavioral patterns are changing in many bird and insect species. Sources state that birds have become the ‘canary in the coal mine,’ indicating the presence of environmental change. With rising temperatures, changing precipitation patterns, milder winters, and more extreme weather events, many species that are closely tied to their environment are being forced to change. Many birds, butterflies and other species in North America are migrating further north.
The National Audubon Society (NAS) is an organization that focuses on the conservation and restoration of ecosystems particularly for birds. Scientists of the NAS have looked at data from the past 40 years and have found that global warming (the recent climate change of warming) is seriously impacting natural systems. Many species have found their niche in the environment based on factors such as temperature and moisture; with these factors changing, the species must adapt or migrate, the latter being the most popular case.
Some of the most apparent impacts that climate change is having on birds and insects are, shifts in migratory patterns and ranges. In 2007, 11 species of butterflies appeared several weeks earlier in Britain. Many other insects have begun emerging earlier and birds are arriving earlier in some areas. The key issue with this impact is that bird species are arriving later than their prey is emerging. Naturally, the peak in insect presence should correlate with the arrival time of birds. Because of rising temperatures and the fact that birds have to travel more northward, the birds could miss out on a large quantity of food. This can easily lead to extinction for many species.
Another impact is the change in reproduction. Many species of birds are laying their eggs at irregular times. Benjamin Zuckerberg, a researcher for the Cornell Lab of Ornithology stated, “This has already been shown through Wink’s analysis of Tree Swallow egg laying dates using data from the long running nest Record Card program. His study suggests that laying dates will advance and happen earlier than average.”
Anyone who loves birds or even insects should be concerned, as extinction is in the realm of possibility. Also, an increase in insects such as mosquitoes and other pests should raise the concern of most people for their health. There are direct and indirect impacts of climate change on birds and insects, which relates to humans in many different ways and we should take action to lessen the effects of climate change to benefit our health and to help ecosystems adapt to habitat changes.

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