Global Warming and a clean energy future

Securing a future for birds in a changing climate

Allen's Hummingbird. Photo: David Levinson

Global warming is a serious threat to California birds. A seven-year study from the National Audubon Society released in September 2014 finds that global warming threatens the survival of 170 California species in the coming decades. This includes iconic California birds such as the Brown Pelican, Allen’s Hummingbird, Yellow-billed Magpie, and many others. These are birds that all of us know well from our backyards and from our own experiences in California’s beautiful outdoors. 

Audubon California is addressing this challenge by protecting the habitats that we know birds will need now and into the future, and doing what we can to lessen the severity of global warming. We’ll do this work with a variety of partners on the ground and in the halls of the State Capitol and Washington, D.C.

But we won’t be able to rise to this challenge without the involvement of California residents who care about birds. We need people not only to join us in this important work, but to also raise their voices to call for meaningful policy and legislative action on global warming.

More about the Audubon study.

Audubon analyzed more than 40 years of historical North American climate data and millions of historical bird records from the U.S. Geological Survey’s North American Breeding Bird Survey and the Audubon Christmas Bird Count to understand the links between where birds live and the climatic conditions that support them. Of 588 bird species examined in the study, 314 species are considered at-risk. Hundreds of species not previously considered at risk will be challenged to survive in a climate-changed future. Understanding those links then allows scientists to project where birds are likely to be able to survive – and not survive – in the future. Learn more about the study.

California's climate threatened and endangered birds
Global Warming

California's climate threatened and endangered birds

Of the 314 North American birds identified by Audubon as either climate threatened or climate endangered, more than 170 commonly occur in California.

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Birds suffer from air pollution, just like we do
Audublog

Air pollution is a direct threat to birds

Many of the same emissions that drive climate change pose direct health problems for bird populations.

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Global warming stories
Global Warming

Global warming stories

We asked people to talk about their favorite birds and global warming.

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Protecting nesting Western and Clark's Grebes

Protecting nesting Western and Clark's Grebes

Audubon California in 2010 launched an ambitious project to protect breeding Western and Clark’s Grebes at four lakes in Northern California.

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Black Oystercatcher and global warming
Global Warming

Black Oystercatcher and global warming

Black Oystercatchers face an uncertain future in a changing climate.

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Allen's Hummingbird and global warming
Birds

Allen's Hummingbird

The Allen's Hummingbird is one of California's most popular birds.

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Yellow-billed Magpie and global warming
Birds

Yellow-billed Magpie and global warming

The Yellow-billed Magpie could lose a large part of its range unless we address global warming.

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Long-billed Curlew and global warming
Birds

Long-billed Curlew

The Long-billed Curlew is North America's largest shorebird.

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Sonoma Creek enhancement
Sonoma Creek restoration

Sonoma Creek restoration

Audubon California and its partners are bringing back 400-acres of wetland habitat in San Pablo Bay for the benefit of a variety of birds, including the endangered Ridgeway's Rail.

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Protecting the Western Snowy Plover

Protecting the Western Snowy Plover

This site is devoted to the protection and recovery of the Western Snowy Plover, a small, rare, and threatened shorebird that makes its home on certain beaches on the Pacific coast.

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Recent News

California says it will fight any federal effort to restrict its ability to regulate vehicle emissions

As the Environmental Protection Agency signals its intent to roll back fuel standards for new vehicles, California officials are warning that any attempt to restrict its ability to set vehicle emissions standards will be met with fierce legal opposition:

Any decision to revoke California's federal waiver could spur a major legal fight, and the state has already retained former U.S. Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. The state will "vigorously participate and defend ourselves" on setting the state's own air quality rules, California Air Resources Board Chair Mary Nichols said.

Automakers reportedly are pressuring the EPA to begin the process of limiting California's ability to set its own standards, which are widely adopted by other states, as well.

For many California communities, fixing air pollution goes right alongside addressing climate

Fascinating piece on NPR about the demand from some Southern California communities that their air pollution problems be addressed alongside climate change policies.

De León introduces measure calling for 100% renewables by 2045

California oil refinery. Photo: Thomas Hawk

Already on a fast-track to building a reliable renewable energy infrastructure, California may soon set its sights on a future that is totally fossil fuel-free. Last week, right at the deadline for new bills, California State Senate President pro tem Kevin De León introduced legislation that will hasten the state's shift to renewable energy. Senate Bill 584 will push up California's shift to 50% renewables by 2025 (five years sooner than our current goals) and 100% by 2045.

Climate change is complicating birds' pursuit of the 'eternal spring'

Great article in the New York Times talking about how bird migrations are perfectly suited to the availability of food and habitat -- and the climate change threatens to upset this delicate system.

Audubon deeply concerned about EPA nominee Scott Pruitt

National Audubon Society President David Yarnold today expressed concern about the man who has been nominated to head the Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt:

“Scott Pruitt’s nomination as the anti-EPA Administrator causes us deep concern," said David Yarnold (@david_yarnold), Audubon’s president and CEO. "The Environmental Protection Agency's work has always been based on science, but Pruitt is a climate change denier who has worked to dismantle well-grounded protections for clean air and clean water."

Read the whole statement here.

Songs for Survival
Global Warming

Songs for Survival

Zebra Finch use song to teach their young how to survive climate change... before the babies even hatch.

Climate bills working their way through California Legislature
Global Warming

Climate bills working their way through California Legislature

Lawmakers are addressing bills to extend California's cap-and-trade system, ban specific pollutants, and embrace the carbon capturing power of natural and agricultural landscapes.

Seed-eating birds to suffer as climate keeps changing

The Cedar Waxwing, which feeds on mostly berries with the occasional insect, is one of many seed, nut and berry-eating birds which will be most threatened by higher temperatures. Photo: Yuri Timofeyev/Flickr

From the melodies of songbirds to the drumming of woodpeckers, birds have long been associated with the sound of spring. Unfortunately, recent research suggests that climate change is driving changes in the calendar period we currently call spring—and that these changes are harming herbivorous and mostly-herbivorous birds.

Specifically, the research observed how different “springtime events” associated with the reproduction of various species has changed with climate in the United Kingdom. The study found that temperature, rather than precipitation, had the largest influence on the timing of breeding in birds and flowering in plants. Although these dates shifted for most animals, the most harmful consequences were found in primary consumers. Primary consumers are essentially the middle of the food chain, or animals that eat plants but are prey to other animals.

While primary consumers include insects, it also means seed-eating birds such as Larks, Cardinals, Finches and Sparrows. In California, environmental toxins and hunting have often threatened our higher-in-the-food-chain predators such as the California Condor and Brown Pelican. Unfortunately, climate change is beginning to threaten the smaller birds too—the ones we may sometimes take for granted as an inherent part of our springtime surroundings.

Mass tree die-offs remind us of the drought, climate change’s consequences
Audublog

Mass tree die-offs remind us of the drought, climate change’s consequences

Trees killed by drought and beetles pose fire risk, but may also be home to wildlife

Madrone Audubon Society BirdSeasons program featured in Petaluma Argus Courier

Madrone Audubon Society are involved with a phenology program designed by Sandy DeSimone of Starr Ranch Sanctuary. Their local paper, The Petaluma Argus Courier, recently intervied chapter members about the volunteer program.

Beginning last month, a group of 10 volunteers armed with clipboards, binoculars and data sheets began to observe the changes and behaviors of a handful of plants and birds as well as an animal at Paula Lane Open Space Preserve, logging their findings into the USA National Phenology Network “Nature’s Notebook” database, which gives scientists access to aggregated data from participants around the nation to inform their research.

A team of about five volunteers is also undergoing monthly observations of the migratory cliff swallow population that makes its home each year at the Petaluma River Bridge from March until August, according to Susan Kirks, a Petaluma resident who’s spearheading the local efforts sponsored by the Santa Rosa-based Madrone Audubon Society...

As part of the project that kicked off the week of May 16, trained volunteers spend about an hour and a half at the preserve once a month to record observations on nine bird species — including several that have been identified by the National Audubon Society as being threatened by climate change — as well as four native and non-native plant species, while also tracking the behavior of the mule deer that populate the land, Kirks said.

Read the rest of the article here.