Southeast Volusia Audubon Society, P.O. Box 46, New Smyrna Beach, FL 32170;

October 2014 Prez Sez

Your executive committee hopes you had a great summer wherever you spent it.  I also welcome our new Conservation Chair, Lamont Ingalls and our new Secretary, Leslie Sachs, and thank them for volunteering to help continue the club for another year.

Lots has happened since we last met and I admit that I had no involvement in it since I spent most of the Spring and Summer in the Northland. But the County Council discussed the fate of our springs and rivers and passed a reasonable ordinance on fertilizers on lawns.  We certainly applaud them for that.

Audubon Study on Birds and Climate Change

On the national front, Audubon released the results of a seven-year study of data gathered by we the citizen scientists during Christmas Bird Counts and Breeding Bird Surveys  that shed new light on the plight of birds as a result of global climate change. It looked at what would happen to the habitats of specific species and classes of birds such as grassland birds using different models and different assumptions of global emissions affecting climate change into the future. 

Of 588 bird species examined in the seven-year study, 314 species are classified "at risk." Of those, 126 species are at risk of severe declines by 2050, and another 188 species face a similar fate by 2080, with the potential for species extinctions if global warming continues on its current trajectory. The Audubon report says that hundreds of species not previously considered at-risk will be challenged to survive in a climate-changed future.

Based on different climate change/carbon emission scenarios and lots of science they tried to form conclusions about what would happen to birds over the next century.  They found that some habitats shrank in size and many moved farther North or more inland. How birds will react to the changes in habitats  of course is determined by how adaptable  the birds are. 

Some birds are adaptable at least to some extent as shown in a 2010 report by Audubon on climate change and its effects on birds.  It noticed that: "Although many factors are known to drive range changes, results from the Christmas Bird Count (CBC) show that the warmer winters in recent decades have played an important role in shifting winter bird ranges to the north. CBC data from the mid-1960s through 2006 show that 170 (56%) of the 305 most widespread, regularly occurring species have shifted their ranges to the north, whereas only 71 species (23%) have shifted to the south and 64 species (21%) have not shifted significantly north or south."

Then there is the question about what effect there will be on the birds still there in terms of competion for scarcer resources.  And it is not only a problem for birds. How Polar Bears, Arctic Foxes and other arctic dwellers fare in the face of the northern march of the Boreal forests, or what happens when 35,00 Walruses pack themselves on a dry beach because the sea ice, where they should be dispersed on is all melted.

The analysis identifies Florida as a critical climate stronghold for the continent's birdlife. But Florida’s habitats have been under threat by development, encroachment on critical springs and aquifer recharge areas, and even rising sea levels. Conserving what is left is crucial to birds and people as well.

Audubon has developed a new website specifically for this issue. In it they provide the report and insights into the problem as well as suggestions of what we can do to help conserve for the future. Suggestions include keeping informed, getting engaged, creating bird-friendly yards, and supporting policies that lower emissions.

For more information go to

Watch this space for more to follow.