Canada Goose, Common Loon, and Great Grey Owl among birds threatened

(A photo of an American Robin by Chandler Lennon for the National Audubon Society)

A new study shows more than half of North American birds are at risk of extinction from climate change, including the Common Loon and the Canada Goose.

The National Audubon Society, one of the oldest non-profit environmental organizations in the world, released its Survival by Degrees: 389 Bird Species on the Brink report Thursday, and it has devastating news for bird lovers.

The study looked at birds in 48 states, but not in Canada.

( file photo by Jason Viau)

( file photo by Jason Viau)

In Michigan, the report listed the Great Grey Owl at high vulnerability along with 54 other species if the average global temperature increases by 3 C. Audubon lists the Canada Goose, Trumpeter Swan, Common Loon at moderate vulnerability. The Mallard, Bald Eagle, American Crow and Common Grackle are considered low vulnerability.

Fifty-eight species out of 213 species in Michigan are considered stable, including Wild Turkey, Great Blue Heron, Blue Jay, Cardinal, and Peregrin Falcon.

“Two-thirds of America’s birds are threatened with extinction from climate change, but keeping global temperatures down will help up to 76 per cent of them,” said Audubon President and CEO David Yarnold.

“A lot of people paid attention to last month’s report that North America has lost nearly a third of its birds,” he added. “This new data pivots forward and imagines an even more frightening future.”

The organization’s online magazine uses a zip code based tool to help users understand what birds in their region are at risk.

“If an ecosystem is broken for birds, it is or soon will be for people too,” said Senior Climate Scientist for Audubon, Brooke Bateman.

Bateman’s team studied climate-related impacts on birds, including sea-level rise, level changes in the Great Lakes, urbanization, drought, extreme spring heat, fire, heavy rain, and cropland expansion.

“We already know what we need to do to reduce global warming, and we already have a lot of the tools we need to take those steps,” added Renee Stone, Audubon’s vice president for climate. “Now, what we need are more people committed to making sure those solutions are put into practice.”

The report recommends five key steps: reducing energy use at home and demanding elected officials to support energy-saving policies, ask elected officials to expand consumer-driven clean energy development like wind and solar power, a fee on carbon, natural solutions such as wetlands along coasts and rivers.

Five years ago, the organization’s report on climate change and the impact on birds said North America could lose at least half of their current ranges by 2080. The report used more precise data.