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Audubon says climate change could wipe out half of US birds by 2080

Steve Dent, @stevetdent
September 10, 2014
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If you enjoy hunting, photographing or just watching birds, you may have to move to Canada in a few decades, according to Audubon. The venerated US conservation society just released interactive maps along with an article showing exactly how bird species across North America are menaced by man-made global warming. Following a seven-year study, the news isn't great: many migratory birds could be extinct within 70 years, while others may leave their home states and provinces forever. Though the predictions are theoretical, Audubon's scientists took a conservative approach, ironically using modeling techniques common in farming and energy resource management. It stressed that "Audubon is not in the business of using scary language or going beyond what the science tells us," but called the threat to bird species "urgent."

As shown in the maps, America's national bird, the bald eagle could lose almost 75 percent of its breeding lands by 2080. Meanwhile, the Mallard duck revered by hunters and birders might retain only 25 percent of its summer domain. (Check on your favorite species here.)

Despite the grim findings, Audubon did offer some hope. It said that the model found regional "strongholds" that will provide some safe harbors against climate change. It asked its members to share the maps and new science with others, adding that climate change is an "invisible menace" to birds and their habitats that crosses political boundaries. Meanwhile, if you're hoping that global warming might be slowing down, think again: a UN report from yesterday showed that temperatures increased by one of the largest margins ever last year.
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