Maryland without its famous Oriole? A Mid-Atlantic region with no bald eagles?
The natural world wouldn’t be the same without these colorful, musical creatures in the skies. But it could be the reality in the next generation or two. A new report from the National Audubon Society shows that these bird species, and more than 100 others like them, could be in for steep population declines as soon as 2050.
The culprit? It’s a familiar one: shifting temperatures and weather patterns caused by climate change.
This is far from the first study to conclude that a whole host of problems lie in store for animals—including us humans—in the coming decades, assuming the globe continues to warm. Birds are just the latest to join them.
So what can be done?
Though climate change remains controversial in some corners of the national discourse, it is by this point a familiar problem. The upside to that familiarity is that the solutions are familiar, too. Improve energy efficiency, both at home and at work. Look for ways to reduce reliance on fossil fuels and increase the use of renewable resources.
Those are the larger talking points, but the good thing about a more specific study like the Audubon Society’s is that it offers relatively tangible opportunities for action.
For example, any yard, school ground, park, or other open area (even a vacant lot) can be fairly easily transformed into a bird-friendly environment. “Bird-scaping,” the study calls it. Here are the steps:
- Use fewer, greener, and/or no pesticides
- If it is safe to do so, let dead trees stand (this provides extra habitat)
- Install bird baths
- Convert lawns to native plants and gardens
A few additional steps can get you certified as an official Backyard Wildlife Habitat, courtesy of the National Wildlife Federation. Earn your certificate (for all wildlife, not just birds) by fixing up any outdoor area—from an apartment balcony to large commercial landscapes—with food or water sources, animal-friendly plants and other special touches. To date, NWF has certified more than 170,000 habitats.
The fringe benefit to such actions is that they make any green space a little greener for everyone who goes there and everything that touches it.
And of course, you can always support the Audubon Society, the NWF, or any other organization working to protect wildlife, conserve important lands, and combat climate change.
By Scott Harris, Freelance Writer