Washington

Make sure your children enjoy bald eagles while they’re here – they may may be moving

By Kimberly Cauvel

Skagit Valley Herald, Mount Vernon, Wash.

A snowy owl sits atop a fence post after being released along the shore of Duxbury Beach in Duxbury, Mass., in 2017. As the global climate warms, snowy owls may appear in North Cascades National Park by 2050, according to a study released last week by the National Audubon Society and National Park Service.
A snowy owl sits atop a fence post after being released along the shore of Duxbury Beach in Duxbury, Mass., in 2017. As the global climate warms, snowy owls may appear in North Cascades National Park by 2050, according to a study released last week by the National Audubon Society and National Park Service. AP file

As the global climate warms, the American pipit may disappear from North Cascades National Park, while the snowy owl may arrive.

Those are two of many possibilities detailed in a joint peer-reviewed study released last week by the National Audubon Society and National Park Service. The study suggests climate change could shift the types of birds found in the nation’s public lands.

While more birds are likely to relocate to national parks as the climate changes, some familiar species could leave.

These changes could be seen by 2050.

In North Cascades National Park, climate change could make habitat less suitable to the bald eagles that spend the winter along the Skagit River. But climate change could also improve habitat in the park for other species.

Of the species that may stay in or find new habitat in the park are 13 climate-sensitive species, which the Audubon Society has determined could lose more than half of their range due to climate change, according to the study.

The fluctuation in bird species is likely to be greater in Olympic and Mount Rainier national parks, according to the study.

As in the North Cascades, habitat in Olympic National Park would also become less suitable for bald eagles as well as the threatened marbled murrelet.

The great blue heron, on the other hand, is among the species that could see habitat improvements in the North Cascades, Olympic and Rainier national parks as the climate changes, according to the study.

In other parts of the U.S., the fluctuation in bird species in national parks is expected to be more extreme.

Audubon Society biologist and lead study author Joanna Wu said in a news release that to protect the nation’s bird species, greenhouse gas emissions should be reduced to limit the effects of climate change.

Continuing to preserve and protect national park lands is also important to ensure bird species have habitat where they can settle.

“We have two tasks: preserve our national parks and public lands as refuges for birds in a warming world and protect what has often been called America’s best conservation idea from the sources of climate change,” Audubon Society CEO David Yarnold said in the release.

An Audubon Society study published in 2014 called the “Birds and Climate Change Report” suggests that by 2080, increasing temperatures could force about half of North America’s bird species from portions of their current habitat ranges.

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