Study shows state bird population is declining due to climate change

Published: Dec. 4, 2019 at 5:52 PM EST
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A study by Audubon scientists shows that two-thirds of North American birds are at an increased risk of extinction from global temperature rise and more than half of the species in our state are on that list.

200 of the 389 species of birds in our state are on the brink of risk of extinction. The study showed that by stabilizing carbon emissions and holding warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, 76 percent of vulnerable species will be better off, and nearly 150 species would no longer be vulnerable to extinction from climate change.

Dr. Susan McRae with the department of Biology at ECU notes many different reasons why our bird population is on the decline.

"It's a combination of factors. So, we have the insidious global warming, of course. The predictions are more and more drastic as time goes on," said McRae. "In this coastal area, we have a lot of hurricanes and those are becoming more frequent and more severe and those have direct impacts on the birds. And it impacts their habitat; even at times when they're not here."

Many species of ducks are on the endangered species list, and sometimes those ducks hang out at RiverPark North in Greenville.

James Wiley fishes there and said he'd be upset if he didn't see them anymore.

Wiley said, "It'd be bad. Yea, 'cause I love ducks."

Some of the species in danger in our state include the red-cockaded woodpecker, least terns, and more. Ways to help include using renewable energy sources and perhaps leaving out bird feeders for the species that migrate in our area.

McRae said, "A lot of the seed-eaters would come to most kinds of seeds you can buy in your D.I.Y. store."

Dr. McRae says the birds are showing us the true state of the environment. Birds rely on our state for staging areas, breeding areas, and overwintering and foraging.

"This is a harbinger of what's going to happen to us," McRae said. "Birds are the indicators. Again, if you're like me, you like the birds for their worth, but even if you're not somebody who really enjoys watching birds, you know, this is something—it's a call for actions and we should all respond."

Sylvan Heights Bird Park in Scotland Neck are working to try to save the bird population.

You can click on the related link to read the entire study.