In the past few decades, a number of species have spread north from California into Oregon, Washington, and even to British Columbia. Red-shouldered Hawks, Black Phoebes, Lesser Goldfinches, and others that were rare in Washington State 20 years ago now turn up regularly. One common element in the northward push of California birds is likely climate change, the swift warming of recent decades.
Climate Change and Range Expansion
Written by Bob Sundstrom
This is BirdNote.
[California bird song ambient, https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/228895, 2.36-2.40]
Birds in the Pacific states are moving north. Just in the past few decades, a number of species have spread from California into Oregon and Washington — and even to British Columbia.
Red-shouldered Hawks, a fixture of California, used to be rare in Washington but are now fairly common.
[Red-shouldered Hawk call, https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/61080361#_ga=2.39550305.373505138.159…]
The same is true for the Black Phoebe, a medium-sized flycatcher, and the Lesser Goldfinch, a tiny seed-eater. Great Egret, California Scrub-Jay, Anna’s Hummingbird—all are making more frequent appearances in northern latitudes.
Bird populations are often dynamic: they spread and retract over time, in response to many variables. But with the swift warming of temperatures over recent decades, climate change is likely to blame for the northward push of California birds.
Over Earth’s long history, living things have had to move and adapt to the changing climate. However, most of those changes came on slowly, over millennia— unlike today’s rapid warming trend.
It remains to be seen how climate change will affect bird populations in the future, but it’s already affecting where they choose to live.
[California bird song ambient, https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/228895, 5.54-6.00]
For BirdNote, I’m Mary McCann.
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Editor: Ashley Ahearn
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Associate Producer: Ellen Blackstone
Bird sounds provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. California bird song ambient recorded by Gregory Budney, Red-shouldered Hawk recorded by Nancy Price.
BirdNote’s theme was composed and played by Nancy Rumbel and John Kessler.
© 2020 BirdNote October 2020 Narrator: Mary McCann
ID# climatechange-04-2020-10-22 climatechange-04