Climate change is already affecting birds and their habitats. We’re acting to conserve birds in ways that also reduce carbon emissions.
As a looming threat to birds and human civilization, global climate change will be an increasing focus of conservation in the coming decades. Birds that are already rare and declining will face additional risk as some current threats intensify, such as degradation or loss of habitat and spread of invasive species.
Coastal habitats, such as those critical for breeding Mangrove Hummingbirds in Costa Rica and breeding sites for many seabirds and coastal marsh birds, are expected to be affected by sea level rise. As temperatures warm, the high mountain forests in Hawai‘i that are home to birds like the 'I'iwi are experiencing an influx of introduced pests, especially by disease-carrying mosquitoes.
More frequent and severe weather events may further stress bird populations. Changes in climate patterns can upset the synchronization of bird migrations, such as the arrival of Red Knots on traditional feeding grounds on the Delaware Bay when horseshoe crab eggs are most abundant.
Slowing the Process of Climate Change
The destruction of forests releases carbon and hastens climate change. Studies show that deforestation accounts for 14 percent of all human-caused greenhouse gas emissions.
Conversely, reforestation and preventing deforestation are two strategies we can take to slow climate change. Many of our bird conservation projects protect carbon-rich tropical forests. For example, by creating or expanding 90 bird reserves, we have protected nearly one million acres, keeping forest carbon in the ground.
Our tree-planting efforts restore forests that help to keep our climate stable. In one area of Peru alone, more than one million trees have been planted with ABC's help. Across Latin America and Hawai'i, our reforestation efforts have resulted in the planting of 3.6 million trees and shrubs.
What We Can Do: Protect Rare Birds Now
Climate change is coming and birds will be affected, but many other threats are damaging to birds now. It would be a travesty for species to be decimated or lost entirely — even before the effects of climate change manifest themselves.
That's why we are focused on conserving habitat and reducing other threats that have the potential to reduce bird populations even before the impacts of climate change are fully realized. Healthy populations are key to ensuring that species are resilient to the increased stressors that climate change may introduce in the future.