Birds apparently can't outfly climate change

From Duke University , another Durban doozy, yes we’ll have roasted fowl in the trees because they may not be moving fast enough.

The solution to this crisis may be insulated bird houses with weatherization, funded by government climate funds and the new 100 billion Green Climate Fund proposed by transient Durbanites. This will also help the employment crisis, because an army of people will be needed to climb trees and move the houses for the birds and climate change races on /sarc

Climate change driving tropical birds to higher elevations

DURHAM, N.C. — Tropical birds are moving to higher elevations because of climate change, but they may not be moving fast enough, according to a new study by Duke University researchers.

The study, published Thursday in the peer-reviewed online journal PLoS ONE, finds that the birds aren’t migrating as rapidly as scientists previously anticipated, based on recorded temperature increases.

The animals instead may be tracking changes in vegetation, which can only move slowly via seed dispersal.

“This is the first study to evaluate the effects of warming on the elevation ranges of tropical birds,” said Stuart Pimm, Doris Duke Professor of conservation ecology at Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment and a co-author of the study. “It provides new evidence of their response to warming, but also shows there is a delay in their response.”

Evidence from temperate areas, such as North America and Europe, shows that many animal and plant species are adapting to climate change by migrating northward, breeding earlier or flowering earlier in response to rising temperatures.

“However, our understanding of the response of tropical birds to warming is still poor,” said German Forero-Medina, a Ph.D. student at Duke’s Nicholas School who is lead author of the new study. “Moving to the north doesn’t help them, because tropical temperatures do not change very much with latitude. So moving up to higher elevations is the only way to go, but there are few historical data that can serve as baselines for comparison over time.”

What is going on with tropical species at higher altitudes is important, Forero-Medina said, because about half of all birds species live 3,500 feet or more above sea level, and of these species, more than 80 percent may live within the tropics.

In 2010, the authors of the new study and a team of biologists participated in an expedition to the summit of the remote Cerros del Sira mountains in central Peru – a place visited by only a few ornithologists on prior occasions. The complex topography, geology and climate of the mountains have produced isolated patches of habitat with unique avian communities and distinct taxa.

Forero-Medina and his colleagues used survey data collected on bird species in the region in the 1970s by John Terborgh, research professor emeritus at Duke, to compare past and present distributions.

“Using John Terborgh’s groundbreaking data — the first ever collected from this region –gave us a unique opportunity to understand the effects of 40 years of warming on tropical birds,” Forero-Medina says.

The biologists found that although the ranges of many bird species have shifted uphill since Terborgh’s time, the shifts fell short of what scientists had projected based on temperature increases over the four decades.

“This may be bad news,” Pimm said. “Species may be damned if they move to higher elevations to keep cool and then simply run out of habitat. But, by staying put, they may have more habitat but they may overheat.”


CITATION: “Elevational Ranges of Birds on a Tropical Montane Gradient Lag Behind Warming Temperatures” German Forero-Medina, John Terborgh, S. Jacob Socolar & Stuart L. Pimm. PLoS ONE, Dec. 7, 2011.


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I’m incredulous at this statement:
Pimm said. “Species may be damned if they move to higher elevations to keep cool and then simply run out of habitat. But, by staying put, they may have more habitat but they may overheat.”
Do you mean to tell me that birds cannot survive a 1-3 degree increase in average temperature after being able to survive millions of years in temperature ranges from 32-110 degrees?
I cannot even believe that this is a serious statement.


Typical bird brains!
Why can’t they realize that by flying just a few miles away from the equator, they can experience temperatures that they like, instead of the infernal 0.7 degrees hotter temperatures in the places where there food is growing.


Yes, we have massive die offs every spring when the temps start going up.


Birds are such skeptics.

Billy Liar

I read as far as ‘conservation biology’ then I had to stop.

Interstellar Bill

Don’t you love the way these articles implicitly adopt
the ‘climate change’ = ‘global warming’ mantra?
Yes it WAS getting warmer, DECADES ago, in SOME places,
but it was never global, it was never a mere matter of avg temp changing,
but of changes in seasonal onset, amounts and timing of rain and droughts, etc..
Whatever USED TO prompt those animals or plants to move is OVER.
Projecting some grand generalizations on short-term regional biotic changes
is bad enough, but projecting them into a scorching fantasy-future
is not science, not even science fiction, just pure climatological fantasy,
funded by tax-hungry, control-obsessed, power-mad government elites.

Vince Causey

Of course, another interpretation would be “birds exploit higher altitudes for the first time in recent memory – higher temperatures have allowed birds to migrate into areas otherwise hostile to them.”
Glass half full or half empty?

Hugh Pepper

Clearly, the environments in which these animals have adapted are changing, as a result of climate change and land uses which disturb their habitats. This is a serious matter for these creatures and should not be trivialized in any way. Some species will not be able to adapt to dramatically changed environmental conditions, and their existence is threatened. We should all, be concerned with this reality, because it affects everyone.

Looks like the birds are smarter than the scientists.

Chris B

About as much use as studying “climate change” affecting Hockey game attendance. Who’s paying for this?
Welfare for Academics.

Tom Matkin

This is from the Onion. Right?


Of course it can’t be anything like their predictions were wrong???

Alan the Brit

Strange? According to Sir David Attenborough last night on Frozen Planet, he openly admitted that nature was “adapting” to Climate Change, but the question he posed was could we? So if HE says nature is adapting, then I guess it must be, clever old Mother Nature, no wonder she has lasted 4,500 million years, & we only a couple of million tops!
This stuff reminds me of reports by the UK’s RSPB a few years ago, (forgive, if this is a repeat) that AGW was reducing bird populatons around the UK. Then it turned out “quietly” that local bird populations of Sparrows, Hedge & Common, Starlings, Thrushes, etc, were the victims of habitat destruction from people concreting over their gardens to make them convenient to maintain or to park a car(s) off-road out front, tree removel by Local Authorities (Councils) for safety reasons & reducing maintenance costs, & on top of that, the feral cat population was increasing, thus reducing the chances of birds to survive! We have an abundance of wild life & bird populations down here in the South West in Cream Tea country (Devon), I have plenty of trees on my small area of land (1/4 acre) shrubs & bushes, that the birds just love! The urban garden these days is not good for birds in lots of cases, barring parks & formal gardens, etc! Yet another case of wrongful attribution to suit the warmistas!
Off Topic – I had to attend a site inspection visit for some trial pits for a client for a new-build bespoke timber framed house/studio/workshop last Tuesday! It was interesting to listen to the geotech guy talking about the beautiful red (oxidised haemetite)/grey (un-oxidised haematite)Triassic head clays we excavated (not me personally of course – that wouldn’t do! :-)) how the clay was over 200 million years old, & it was only a metre & a half below ground level!! Makes you think, doesn’t it?

People will be standing outside holding platters waiting for yummy cooked birds to fall out of the sky.
Myna from heaven.


Good night. Maybe they are not migrating because it is not getting hotter. Or did I miss something.


I am amazed that anyone would consider handing out grant money for such a feather brained study.


Last time I had seen logic this good was “If she weighed the same as a duck…”
1. The temp. changes are not what they think they are.
2. The birds really don’t care about a few tenths of a degree temp change.
3. Got to get back to work and reading this non-sense makes my head hurt.


“The animals instead may be tracking changes in vegetation, which can only move slowly via seed dispersal.”
Follow the food.


Warning: Sarcasm Ahead !
Then, again, it may NOT be bad news. Certainly it would be bad news if they lost funding because they didn’t include bogus and extraneous AGW claims in their paper or press release,
Hmmm a whole 49 meters versus “expected” 152 meters elevation shift ? That sounds pretty thin – like within normal variability range just like the likely trivial increase in temperature. A grand total of one transect in which case, how would they KNOW anything about variability ? Call me skeptical on N = 1. How many of these scientists don’t understand elementary sampling theory required to draw particular conclusions ? FAIL !
Wait for it — “33 species moved up, versus 15 that moved down” . Presumably the species that moved downslope were immediately incinerated due to the purported 0.79°C warming.

G. Karst

I have never seen birds (other than overcrowded chickens/turkeys) die and fall to the ground, due to warmth. I have, however, one -40 F day, observed sparrows and chickadees, drop one by one, to the ground due to the killing cold. Warming is a pleasant walk in the park. GK

Eric Seufert

Maybe the scientists have the wrong temperatures and it really didn’t heat up as much so the birds didn’t move up as much. This brings us to a whole new proxy. Lets build a proxy for climate based on the changing altitude of bird habitat.


> Eric Seufert says: “Lets build a proxy for climate based on the changing altitude of bird habitat.”
I LIKE it – a lot ! Wait ….how can we use it to get paleo data accurate to .01 degree though ?

Is this the long anticipated answer to the question “What is the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow?”


If this is what passes for “peer reviewed” science these days then science is in big trouble. What an absolute load of nonsense. I can only assume that thousands of birds die every morning when the sun comes up. Pathetic drivel.


Population and/or predator (rats and cats in particular) pressures are more likely to have to do with this shift, if there really is a shift, then the less then one degree warming shown by a couple of thermometers next to air conditioning units at the UEA.
Of course a bird that is used to feed on certain plants is not going to move further then he has to. Uphill or downhill. So if there is a real shift of any kind it will be a slow one. Otherwise he will die, not of a heatstroke but of hunger.
Why is everything these days explained as “caused by rising temperatures”?
What happened to good old common sense?

Jimmy Haigh

Hugh Pepper says:
December 8, 2011 at 9:37 am
I really do hope for your sake that you are trying to take the piss?

Steve Oregon

“The study, published Thursday in the peer-reviewed online journal PLoS ONE”
Is this supposed to mean the study was peer reviewed or the journal is peer reviewed?
Or is it a play on words to infer the study is peer reviewed when it is not?

OH BOY! Duck LaRonge!!!! Any turkeys in the Climes,other than the Warmers?


According to another Duke study, trees are having a similar problem….

Jimmy Haigh says:
December 8, 2011 at 10:05 am
Hugh Pepper says:
December 8, 2011 at 9:37 am
I really do hope for your sake that you are trying to take the piss?

Probably not, but it is even worse than most of his drivel – so I could be wrong.
Animals adapt very well. The Potomac and Chesapeake Bay are supporting large and growing populations of Bald Eagles and Osprey. Polar Bear populations recovered from their over-hunted low. The examples go on and on. All that is necessary for them to succeed is for us to stop killing them.
Want these birds to survive in a world of changing climate? Great, do something about the feral cat population and don’t let your cats out at night. Done.

Dave D

“Moving to the north doesn’t help them, because tropical temperatures do not change very much with latitude. So moving up to higher elevations is the only way to go, but there are few historical data that can serve as baselines for comparison over time.” – sounds like a license to create your assumptions and bias’ from whole clothe!


My God,
Does that mean my KFC burger will be pre-heated before it hits the bun?


This is just my highly unqualified observation, but it seems that every year when we are about to have a terrible winter here in Texas, (terrible for Texas, that is) our backyards fill up with Cardinals (no, not Spanish Inquisition Cardinals, which would indeed be unexpected), who seem to be fleeing more northerly climes. Normally, we don’t see Cardinals here, especially in our summer, but somehow these little birds must be far more adaptable (or more clever) than their tropical counterparts, flying from the Wisconsin region just to see us in Northern Texas.
@TomB : This article should help:


The general ‘sense’ ( if that is the right word) is that the migration northwards represents the birds ‘fleeing’ to cooler climes where life will be more bearable. Actually what is happening is that the birds follow the food. Earlier flowering means earlier seeds/fruit; spread of vegetation northwards decreases competition for food as the mass of vegetation increases; quantity of food increases as the plants migrate; seed/fruit production begins earlier and lasts longer.
Birds have been around for a long, long time, and I guess they have survived – just maybe – by adapting to the conditions.
This year, in the UK, several bird species raised multiple broods because of the abundance of food and the clement weather, migration from Scandinavia was delayed – not because it was too hot further south, but because there was no need to migrate whilst food supplies and good weather lasted.
And maybe that ‘delay in their response’ happens to be equal to the delay in propagation of the particular plants they feed off.


The new and improved turbo diesel KFC burger with pre-heat igniton. What a flavor burst in my mouth. The climate of my appetite just went into hockey overdrive.


How many millions of years have birds been around? 100 million or so? I think the birds have got it figured out by now. $hit happens. Deal with it.

Mike from SC

This article fails to mention that plants are living organisms, too. Their ranges will shift in response to the abiotic factors influencing them and the local habitat/ecosystem will shift in response. There could be an increase or decrease in area. It really doesn’t matter. The changes won’t be overnight and all the organisms in the area will adapt.

Wolfgang Sander

steveta_uk, don’t insult the birds!

“However, our understanding of the response of tropical birds to warming is still poor,” said German Forero-Medina, a Ph.D. student .
No kidding! What makes these clowns think that tropical birds cannot handle a range of temperatures. They are warm-blooded (homeotherms) with control of their metabolism. They will go where the plants are that they eat or live off of. The idea that the plants cannot move fast enough to handle climate changes is bogus as they have been through numerous climate changes over the eons and are obviously still here.
The rampant species extinctions that are predicted have not happened at all – that would be none, nada, zilch, and none. Did I say none?
Since we are cooling, I would love to see how they measure the upward movement of the birds to higher altitude. Methinks some poor , but grant-funded bias is at work here.


We still haven’t seen an explanation as to why Canadian geese aren’t returning to Canada but rather staying around their southern winter habitat around Delaware.


I wonder when they will ask to ban glass windows.
I have birds that run into my glass windows about 2 or 3 times a week. We have put all kinds of items on the glass to try to make it clear that it isn’t a passageway but it still happens.

Ex-Wx Forecaster

The statements supporting the catastrophic impact of global warming are astounding in their stupidity.
Has Earth ever been warmer than now? Uh…let’s see. Hmmm. During the past 500 million years, MOST of the time, Earth’s temperature was 6 to 12 C higher than now. So if we’re in a panic over a 1.5C increase in the past 150 years and going another 5C means the end of the world, why isn’t the planet already a sterile rock pile from past ‘catastrophic’ temperatures?
Oh, wait. I forgot. Those changes were *natural*, while *human-caused* warming will destroy the world. It’s amazing how different human-released CO2 is from *natural* CO2. I guess it’s so dangerous because of all the hot air that accompanies it.


What ever else has changed this ‘research’ reminds that the AGW research funding bucket is still deep and well filled and their are plenty of people wanting to deep into it . While linking yourself into the ’cause ‘ is still seen as good way to advanced your academic career by some .


Last time I checked the birds had those wing thingys that let them get around quite rapidly. But hey, maybe it’s different in Peru. Or maybe they haven’t moved, because nothings changed as far as they’re concerned. Choice is important.
Still I find that reading the article is much improved if accompanied by this –


where are the poor old turkeys going to go I will have to apply for a grant $1000000 should be enought


Surely these smart birds are moving to higher elevations because the mid and upper tropical troposphere isn’t warming as much as the models predict?


Unless the Ornithologist tied his meaningless research to global warming he wouldn’t have gotten funded. Keeps him/her busy for awhile, but does starve meaningful research of funds.

“The animals instead may be tracking changes in vegetation, which can only move slowly via seed dispersal.”
Yeah and what is one of the primary ways seed disperse, by being carried by birds. Can you say catch 22?

Hmmm…so it`s “bad news“ if some tropical bird “species may be damned“ because of increasing heat. No word about their temporate relatives survival rates in the shadow of windmills. Hmmmm


Oh sure, and lowland deforestation (for all those palms for making palm oil) and urbanization have absolutely nothing to do with this!