Conservation

Climate Change Initiative

314 of our bird species are on the brink. This is a defining time for birds.
Conservation

Climate Change Initiative

314 of our bird species are on the brink. This is a defining time for birds.

CLICK HERE for The Audubon Report at a Glance

Everything you need to know about our findings, their implications, and how to interpret the data for the birds you care about. 

Information Specific to the Rockies:

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is the Audubon Birds and Climate Report?
  2. What are the primary findings?
  3. Where can I read the full report?
  4. Where can I find peer-reviewed scientific papers on the study?
  5. What geographical range does the study cover?
  6. How are birds where I live projected to respond to global warming?
  7. Are birds with ranges that are shown to expand or shift “safe” from climate change?
  8. How do I interpret the projected range maps?
  9. How do I interpret the Venn diagrams?
  10. Why can’t I find maps for a specific bird?
  11. Are the projected range maps different from the range maps in field guides?
  12. Will Audubon continue to conduct research into how global warming affects birds?
  13. What can I do to help?
  14. Got even more questions? CEO and President David Yarnold and chief scientist Gary Langham have answers.

What is the Audubon Birds and Climate Report?

Audubon scientists used three decades of citizen-scientist observations from the Audubon Christmas Bird Count and the North American Breeding Bird Survey to define the “climatic suitability” for each bird species—the range of temperatures, precipitation, and seasonal changes each species needs to survive. Then, using internationally recognized greenhouse gas emissions scenarios, they mapped where each bird’s ideal climatic range may be found in the future as the climate changes. These maps serve as a guide to how each bird’s current range could expand, contract, or shift across three future time periods (2020, 2050, and 2080). Back to top

What are the primary findings?

Of the 588 North American bird species Audubon studied, more than half are likely to be in trouble. Our models indicate that 314 species will lose more than 50 percent of their current climatic range by 2080.

Climate Change Prediction from 1880-2010

Of the 314 species at risk from global warming, 126 of them are classified as climate endangered. These birds are projected to lose more than 50 percent of their current range by 2050. The other 188 species are classified as climate threatened and expected to lose more than 50 percent of their current range by 2080 if global warming continues at its current pace. Back to top

Where can I read the full report?

You can download a summary overview of the Audubon Climate Report in PDF form here, as well as the full Landscape Conservation Cooperatives report PDF here. The LCC report was the foundation of work for the Audubon Climate Report and provides detailed methods. Back to top

Where can I find peer-reviewed scientific papers on the study?

What geographical range does the study cover?
The study covers Alaska, Canada, and the lower 48 states. Dozens of North American birds winter in Latin America, but because we lacked sufficient data to study the effects of global warming on those birds’ winter ranges, it is likely that even more birds are threatened by global warming than we have been able to identify so far. Back to top

How are birds where I live projected to respond to global warming?
Visit our search page to find birds by state/province or species name.Back to top

Are birds with ranges that are shown to expand or shift “safe” from climate change?
Not necessarily. Our models look at the most fundamental climate needs each species requires for survival; they do not take specifics of habitat into account. A place in a grassland bird’s new projected range might have the right mix of temperature and seasonality, but if that place is a major city instead of a grassland, the bird is not going to thrive there.

Audubon scientists have used hundreds of thousands of citizen-science observations and sophisticated climate models to predict how birds in the U.S. and Canada will react to climate change. Our work defines the climate conditions birds need to survive, then maps where those conditions will be found in the future as the Earth’s climate responds to increased greenhouse gases.

It’s the broadest and most detailed study of its kind, and it’s the closest thing we have to a field guide to the future of North American birds. 

Climate Connection

When you reduce the size of your lawn and increase the variety and abundance of native plants in your yard, you have a real and immediate impact on climate change. Here’s why:

Locking Up Carbon

By planting an oak in your yard, you help reduce greenhouse gasses. Hard to believe? Entomologist Doug Tallamy crunches the numbers in his recent book, The Living Landscape, co-authored with Rick Darke.

After 55 years of growing, Tallamy notes, an oak tree will remove some 43,210 pounds of carbon from the atmosphere, storing the carbon in its trunk and branches. By 75 years, that number increases to 85,098 pounds.

Imagine if a thousand other landowners in your town or city each planted an oak. And if a thousand communities across the country did the same. Those trees would store more than 85 billion pounds of carbon in their tree fiber. All from the act of planting of a single tree.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, burning a gallon of gasoline emits about 19.64 pounds of carbon dioxide (CO2), and burning a gallon of diesel releases about 22.38 pounds of CO2. After 75 years, a single oak has absorbed the equivalent CO2 of 4333 gallons of combusted gasoline, enough to carry an average (25 mpg) car 108,322 miles.

According to Tallemy’s research, the average suburban lot grows about 10% of its potential tree biomass. What about your yard? Is it possible to replace a portion of lawn with native trees, shrubs, and forbs?  By doing so, you will help pull a significant amount of carbon from the atmosphere, where it’s causing big problems, and convert it to plant biomass, where it can do a whole lot of good—for our climate and for birds.

Urban Cool

According to the Urban Climate Lab (UCL) at Georgia Tech University, urban areas are warming 50-100% more rapidly than rural areas due to the immense expanse of heat-absorbing roofs, roads, and other human-made impervious surfaces. Urban heat waves are steadily increasing in severity and duration. What’s more, most current climate action plans will yield no measurable benefits for extreme heat in urban areas.

How do we counter the disproportionately rapid temperature rise of urban areas? A key part of UCL’s recommended solutions is planting vegetation, especially trees. Trees shade those heat-absorbing urban surfaces, actively cool the air through evapotranspiration, and counter climate change by turning atmospheric carbon into wood fiber.

But what if you don’t have a yard at your city home? You can make a difference by hanging a window box outside your window, by growing a container garden on your patio or by planting a rooftop garden. And when you do, be sure to grow native species.

Climate Connection

When you reduce the size of your lawn and increase the variety and abundance of native plants in your yard, you have a real and immediate impact on climate change. Here’s why:

Locking Up Carbon

By planting an oak in your yard, you help reduce greenhouse gasses. Hard to believe? Entomologist Doug Tallamy crunches the numbers in his recent book, The Living Landscape, co-authored with Rick Darke.

After 55 years of growing, Tallamy notes, an oak tree will remove some 43,210 pounds of carbon from the atmosphere, storing the carbon in its trunk and branches. By 75 years, that number increases to 85,098 pounds.

Imagine if a thousand other landowners in your town or city each planted an oak. And if a thousand communities across the country did the same. Those trees would store more than 85 billion pounds of carbon in their tree fiber. All from the act of planting of a single tree.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, burning a gallon of gasoline emits about 19.64 pounds of carbon dioxide (CO2), and burning a gallon of diesel releases about 22.38 pounds of CO2. After 75 years, a single oak has absorbed the equivalent CO2 of 4333 gallons of combusted gasoline, enough to carry an average (25 mpg) car 108,322 miles.

According to Tallemy’s research, the average suburban lot grows about 10% of its potential tree biomass. What about your yard? Is it possible to replace a portion of lawn with native trees, shrubs, and forbs?  By doing so, you will help pull a significant amount of carbon from the atmosphere, where it’s causing big problems, and convert it to plant biomass, where it can do a whole lot of good—for our climate and for birds.

Urban Cool

According to the Urban Climate Lab (UCL) at Georgia Tech University, urban areas are warming 50-100% more rapidly than rural areas due to the immense expanse of heat-absorbing roofs, roads, and other human-made impervious surfaces. Urban heat waves are steadily increasing in severity and duration. What’s more, most current climate action plans will yield no measurable benefits for extreme heat in urban areas.

How do we counter the disproportionately rapid temperature rise of urban areas? A key part of UCL’s recommended solutions is planting vegetation, especially trees. Trees shade those heat-absorbing urban surfaces, actively cool the air through evapotranspiration, and counter climate change by turning atmospheric carbon into wood fiber.

But what if you don’t have a yard at your city home? You can make a difference by hanging a window box outside your window, by growing a container garden on your patio or by planting a rooftop garden. And when you do, be sure to grow native species.

Fewer Climate-change Pollutants

Every week during the growing season, Americans mow 40 million acres of grass—an area eight times the size of New Jersey. Our country’s mowers and weed-whackers burn 800 million gallons of gasoline per year. When you reduce the size of your lawn, you reduce the amount of time your mower is running. If you use a gas mower, that means your mower will be emitting fewer greenhouse gases.

Related

Bird Friendly Communities
Conservation

Bird Friendly Communities

Audubon Rockies tries hard to engage communities in our bird friendly communities initiative.

Read more

Audubon's Western Rivers Initiative
Conservation

Audubon's Western Rivers Initiative

In the arid West, rivers are the lifeblood of our land, our economy, our way of life.

Read more

Sagebrush Ecosystem Initiative
Conservation

Sagebrush Ecosystem Initiative

The sagebrush landscape has long epitomized the American West. But this unique habitat, home to scores of plants and animals, including the Greater Sage-Grouse, is rapidly disappearing.

Read more

How you can help, right now