Declining Bird Populations; Another False Global Warming Alarmism

Opinion; Dr. Tim Ball

Direct claims or inferences that global warming is causing decline or demise of bird populations are increasing. The Audubon Society has a along list, but there are also more references to individual species, such as the Kestrel, and the Swift. There are several regional claims, such as for America. They all assume or imply that anthropogenic global warming (AGW) is the culprit. Such claims are another example of exploitation of environmentalism and emotionalism for a political agenda. Like all the other alarmists claims, there is little or no scientific data or understanding of natural patterns and mechanisms, certainly, insufficient to make the claims being made.

Years ago, I peer reviewed an article submitted to a climate journal that claimed decline in population of a bird species on the Atlantic coast of South Africa, was due to human induced global warming (AGW). The article made no attempt to consider other causes. It was an early example of the pattern in the climate alarmist approach, that any decline or change in flora or fauna is due to human activity. The bird claims are a subset of the ill-informed extinction claims.

Movements of land based flora and fauna are different than for those atmosphere or ocean based. They react differently because they operate in fluid, three-dimensional space. This is true over all time spans. For example, it is noted about the Nautilus (Figure 1); In appearance, they have not changed much in millions of years.”

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Figure 1: Nautilus

As their environment changes they adjust more quickly and with greater options. On a short-term basis, fisherpersons, (ugh), know fish vary their depth hourly with changing temperature gradients. Over time, the numbers and patterns of movement, change mostly with horizontal change in condition created by changing wind and ocean currents.

Lamb’s Volume 2 of Climate, Past, Present and Future had a section on changing patterns and distribution of birds, but did not look at other effects resulting from climate changes. It was part of my discussion with him about my thesis research. A subsequent article to a climate journal examined variations in date of arrival of geese on Hudson Bay with the spring migration. “The Migration of Geese, as an Indicator of Climate Change in the Southern Hudson Bay Region Between 1715 and 1851”, Climatic Change, Vol. 5, No. 1, 1983, pp. 83-93.

The major controlling factor was not the temperature but the wind patterns. The geese migrated most of the time (+80%) with a tail wind. On occasions, such as in the period from 1770 – 1790, geese arrived and overnight wind shifts from south to north, caused plummeting temperatures resulting in them being trapped in ice. The fur traders appreciated the opportunity for an easy goose hunt. Wind was also the most important factor in the South African case, as wind and ocean current reversals similar to the El Niño/La Nina occur. The important point about ocean current reversals are, they are caused by wind pattern reversals and that impacts the location and migration of bird species.

Bird populations fluctuate as much as animal populations, but the actual counts are much harder to establish because the birds move to different regions. Usually their movement is triggered and driven by changing wind patterns. In the late 1980s, there were reports of declining waterfowl populations across the Great Plains and its extension, the Prairies of Canada. Immediately the finger pointing began and mostly at agriculture. Clearing woodlands, draining wetlands and use of chemicals were all blamed. It was none of those; it was a drought almost equal in severity to the 1930s drought.

Where did the birds go? Wind patterns changed as the prolonged blocking system, that caused the drought to set in. The north/south flyway (Figure 3) shifted west and bird numbers in western and northwest Canada increased significantly. By the early 1990s, wind patterns shifted back, the rain returned and so did the waterfowl. Of course, there was no apology to the farm community.

Wind is the most neglected weather variable. It is very important for what it tells us about the weather creating mechanisms, but also because of its role in conversion and transfer of moisture and energy. Information about vertical winds, convection, and transport, especially in the Hadley Cell, are inadequate as evidenced by the IPCC AR5 comment that,

Most climate model simulations show a larger warming in the tropical troposphere than is found in observational data sets.

A major problem is that wind mechanisms in these regions are mostly massive convective cells of cumulonimbus that are too small to fit in the smallest grid of a computer climate model. Many birds use these convective winds to gain altitude and begin their migratory patterns.

In the middle latitudes most air moves horizontally. Technically, it is advection, but more commonly called wind. Birds migrate on these winds, so as they change the migration pattern changes. The greatest shifts are between Meridional and Zonal Rossby Waves (Figure 2).

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Figure 2: Rossby Waves

North American wind patterns are also influenced by the Rocky Mountains. The result is a set of flyways followed by migrating birds on a seasonal basis (Figure 3).

Humans are directly killing birds and endangering a few unique species almost all by wind turbines. An alternate power source, a result of environmentalists ostensibly saving nature, is having opposite effects.

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Figure 3: North American Flyways

Some suggest decline of certain bird species is due to wind farms. It is hard to determine the actual numbers of any one species killed by the turbines. Even a total estimate is unclear. Some endangered species are threatened, for example, Whooping Cranes

The only sustainable population of whooping cranes in the wild is declining, concurrently with the invasion of their migration route, the Central Flyway, by over 2,000 wind turbines and their power lines. Nearly one hundred of these critically-endangered birds were lost this year, i.e. one third of that population.”

T Boone Pickens, American oil billionaire, decided to exploit the wind turbine subsidies by building a massive wind farm. The problem is it was right on the major flyway and would have chewed up migrating birds. Within 3 years he abandoned the plan not to save the birds, but because of better opportunities, as subsidies disappeared and natural gas became cheaper.

Meanwhile the government didn’t abandon wind farms, but they did abandon the birds. There is a federal fine of $10,000, or a jail term of 1 to 5 years, for a person who kills an eagle. However, the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS),

“has not prosecuted a single company for violating one of the many statutes protecting threatened endangered birds.”

Even worse, the Obama Administration has approved a quota of birth deaths per wind farm. As Michael Hutchins, of the American Bird Conservancy said,

“You can’t call it green if it’s killing hundreds of thousands of birds and bats annually and if it’s killing large numbers of protected eagles.

Reports of overall declining bird populations continue, as do claims of species decline. There are also a few reports of increasing populations, like one on woodpeckers. The reason was an increase in a food source, the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB). At least they didn’t attribute increase in EAB to global warming, but they did provide the source of their information.

“Participants in citizen science projects contribute real, valuable data that allow us to tackle some major ecological questions related to invasive species, urbanization and habitat change, our changing climate, or other factors,” according to David Bonter, Project Leader of Project Feederwatch and a co-author on the study. “FeederWatchers are a particularly dedicated group, contributing more than 4.2 million hours of observation since 1987 and allowing us to track changes in the abundance and distribution of birds across North America.”

Maybe these methods are too subjective, since they are by avid bird watchers, whose zeal is legendary and a focus of satire.

To underscore this problem, there are reports of increasing populations. For example,

“The BBC reports on a new study that suggests many European species of animals and birds have seen their numbers rebound dramatically. And that recovery has been going on for quite some time. In fact, many of the species studied had seen their numbers increase by as much as 3,000 percent since the 1960s.”

 

The trouble is these reports are as self-serving as the bird watcher’s reports. The increased numbers are attributed to government policy.

The researchers believe a combination of factors have been driving this return. Legal protection in the European Union, such as the birds directive and habitats directive, had helped to revive the fortunes of species, as had dedicated conservation schemes, said Mr. [Frans] Schepers [managing director of Rewilding Europe].

The same article provides another explanation.

It’s not all about legal protections and conservation policy, either. Much of the rebound may be due to increased urbanization and the abandonment of the countryside — leaving more room for animals to thrive.

So what is the truth? The answer is, bird populations fluctuate significantly in absolute numbers, just like all animal populations. They also fluctuate regionally as environmental conditions change. This is especially true of wind pattern changes on migrating birds.

Environmentalists, like the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and alarmists, like Al Gore, always try to underscore their claims with threats to animals. They choose animals that people find attractive. These have appealing features like furry coats, preferably white, large round eyes, or manifest anthropomorphic behaviors. One way I underscore the point to people is to list many species increasing in numbers because of the new habitat opportunities. The list includes, snakes, rats, coyotes, mice, among others. Then stop and ask them, “Oh, have I mentioned any you like yet?”

People have a greater affection for birds than any other animals. They are symbols of freedom and beauty and as such a vulnerable vehicle for alarmist exploitations. As H.H. Munro said, “A little inaccuracy sometimes saves tons of explanation.” The trouble is, with all these cases, it is more than a little inaccuracy.

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124 thoughts on “Declining Bird Populations; Another False Global Warming Alarmism

  1. A relevant question is “By how much are bird numbers declining due to losses caused by Wind Turbines?”.
    Not a comfortable answer for the “environmentalists” …

  2. Spending my career monitoring bird populations I must say I was appalled by the recent Audubon extinction propaganda. I know several people studying birds in California and they often find populations are moving in just the opposite of what CO2 theory predicts. Myself and others have demonstrated landscape changes have a bigger impact. Combined with changes that reveal so much annual variability, it is impossible to attribute any trends. There horror story was based mostly on model predictions that CO2 will shift maximum temperatures northward and upward and that will reduce habitat. But North American ,maximum temperatures have not risen above the 30s. Similar models were used to argue Emperor Penguins would soon be extinct even though temperatures have shown no warming trend whatsoever. As I documented, their claim was all imaginary.
    Read here http://landscapesandcycles.net/resilient-emperor-penguin.html

    • Can we name five species of birds which can not adapt to a climate change?
      Probably not. They went extinct millions of years ago.

    • Speaking of “extinction propaganda” … the UNEP (manufacturer and propagator of scary stories for over 40 years) head honcho, Achim Steiner, gave an Oct. 6/14 Keynote address*:
      “Delivered at the Opening of the 12th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity”.
      Subheading of above: “18,788 species out of 52,017, so far assessed by IUCN, are threatened with extinction”
      Followed by a lovely pic of a (presumably threatened?!) pretty green exotic bird.
      Excerpt from text:

      There is ample evidence that the pressure humanity is placing on the planet has exceeded life’s support systems. Species’ extinctions are continuing at up to 1,000 times or more the natural rate, according to IUCN figures.

      My guess is that the UNEP is in the process of seriously shifting from the (no longer working, even if they won’t admit it openly) CO2=”greatest threat to the future of the planet” to the (waiting in the wings for approx. 4 years) new, improved “greatest threat to the future of the planet”: loss of “biodiversity”.
      *See: http://www.unep.org/newscentre/Default.aspx?DocumentID=2804&ArticleID=11012&l=en#sthash.ReXaD06l.0eAgeBA4.dpuf

  3. Dr. Ball ==> I don’t see any data at all in your piece about general bird populations.
    You can’t call “Declining Bird Populations; Another False Global Warming Alarmism” without supplying some data as to if falsity.
    I believe you are right, but I do so having studied various bird census data bases.

      • Reply to dp ==> Ball claims that “declining bird populations” is a false claim. It is silly just to say “In my opinion, they are not declining”. Declining involves numerical data…..refuting numerical data either requires contrary numerical data or some refutation about the presented numbers (such as, incorrectly counted). He doesn’t just say he doesn’t agree with their opinion – about which he is free to have an opinion – he makes a claim about bird populations — in effect “they are not declining” — but gives us no data.
        Normally, Dr. Ball does a good job in his presentations — but this time he has come a cropper.

      • Actually, no.
        There are a number of links in Dr Ball’s article. Try following some of those …

      • So I can claim that bird species are multiplying by a factor of ten and this is automatically true unless you provide data to the contrary. Bizarre world you live in.

    • On the contrary, it is up to the person making the claim to provide the data. I see no data illustrating that bird populations are decreasing due to Climate Change. And such data can’t exists, because there is no mechanism that can link an increase in CO2 levels with bird populaitons.
      OTOH … Dr. Ball did provide some data on the impact of Wind Turbines on Cranes.

      • Here are a few numbers for the US. Numbers vary but are sure to rise with the growth of big wind.

        Abstract – 26 MAR 2013
        Comparing bird and bat fatality-rate estimates among North American wind-energy projects
        .I estimated 888,000 bat and 573,000 bird fatalities/year (including 83,000 raptor fatalities) at 51,630 megawatt (MW) of installed wind-energy capacity in the United States in 2012. As wind energy continues to expand, there is urgent need to improve fatality monitoring methods,
        http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/wsb.260/abstract
        ================
        LiveScience – May 14, 2013
        Wind turbines kill more than 573,000 birds each year in the United States, according to The Associated Press, including federally protected species like bald eagles and golden eagles.
        http://www.livescience.com/31995-how-do-wind-turbines-kill-birds.html
        ================
        CFACT – March 18, 2013
        The real death toll, as reported by Paul Driessen and others, is thousands of raptors a year – and up to 39 million birds and bats of all species annually in the United States alone, year after year! This is intolerable, and unsustainable. It is leading to the inevitable extinction of many species, at least in many habitats, and perhaps in the entire Lower 48 States.
        http://www.cfact.org/2013/03/18/wind-turbines-kill-up-to-39-million-birds-a-year/

    • I read that as a claim by the Alarmists. It seems to me that Dr. Ball said that “Alarmists” are blaming decreasing populations on AGW. No???

      • The difference between Duck and other birds is that there has been a long term sustained effort by ‘hunters’ to protect and expand their habitat. Unlike most activists, the hunters have a vested effort in a healthy duck population and contribute a great deal of personal effort and money into supporting it. My dad spend more than a little time planting wild rice in the local marshes to promote an environment the ducks would find attractive.
        Recently it had become very popular to sneer at Duck’s unlimited because they are a hunter’s organization.
        One such incident was on the daily show where they interviewed a representative who was organizing a protest against a large wind farm that would be on a major migratory route. They had lots of fun constantly hitting the points that the representative was against the wind mills killing the ducks because they wanted to kill them. No room on a show like that to point out all the activities that DU took to sustain the population.

    • The whole point of the article was that the alarmists have provided no data to support their claim. He also went in to detail some of the things that make estimating bird populations difficult at best and pointed out that the author made no attempt to account for other known factors.
      You don’t have to provide your own data if you are able to show that the papers numbers and methods are faulty.

  4. @Kip
    I took the point of the article to be the difficulty in getting accurate counts of wild life. The requested data would be the comparison of an accurate count (how accurate? taken how?) with count suggested by an alarmist, implied to be uncertain.

    • Reply to dave ==> The U.S. Geological Survey does a good job on breeding bird surveys, and have all the data, thru 2012 (updated in some cases to 2014) here.
      Audubon’s Christmas Bird Survey results are available at: here.
      It is difficult to get accurate counts of bird and other wildlife….but one works with the data one has.
      Try a few runs with your favorite bird at the two sites and see that you have probably picked a winner — population increasing.
      It is the representation that “bird populations are declining” that is false. Some bird are declining, in some areas and increasing in others. Some birds are increasing near;ly everywhere they are counted.
      For instance, with the declining number of farms with hay fields and livestock pastures in rural Upstate NY, meadow nesting species are declining here. This is accompanied by an increased in forested areas (the fields revert to forest land..) increasing the numbers of forest birds.

      • Yes, Kip Hansen missed by a mile.
        He either ignored or did not read the first paragraph, which gives the primise of the article. Dr Ball made clear enough that he was addressing environmental alarmism in regard to perceived fluctuations in bird populations. Nowhere in the article does he take issue with data, so why should he furnish data?

      • Well, you’ll have to have to substantiate your claim that the Geological Survey does a good job.
        All you’ve done is express an opinion, which only enhances the credibility of the Geological Survey if your own credibility is high.
        As far as I can tell, the common disclaimer ” It is difficult to do such and such” can be paraphrased as “It is impossible”.
        No matter how many swamps you must wade in or briar patches you must crawl through, it’s the accuracy of the count that is of interest, not the tenacity of the birder.

  5. I’m waiting to see a study on what kind of effects Alarmists’ “green energy” policies will have on HUMAN population, especially in already energy deprived parts of the world.

  6. Technically, the loss of bird populations is global warming-related. Both windmill gauntlets and solar ovens are the cause for large-scale bird depopulation. Ironically, the solutions proffered to mitigate global warming are manufacturing the supporting evidence. It sounds like a social complex.
    I normally wouldn’t, but… Fishermen. Fisherwomen. Fisherpersons. Ugh?

  7. What organizations like Audubon don’t talk much about to their societies is the problem of invasive species. As an anecdote to this problem, we had kestrels nesting at our house. They abandoned the nest. Investigation revealed a 1/2″ hole in the single egg in the nest. Both grackles and starlings had been observed to be trying to get into the nest box with the kestrels fighting them off. Apparently the kestrels’ foes won. If Audubon wants to save kestrels, they should urge ‘open season’ on these two invasive species.

    • While I agree with you on the starling, an introduced species that long ago became a noxious pest in North America, the boat-tailed grackle is native.
      By the same token, because the poster bird for killing forest management on public lands in the US, the spotted owl, is losing out to its more aggressive and larger competitor (barred owl), the Forest Service in their infinite (non) wisdom is waging war on barred owls. We don’t want to go down this road.

  8. I’m so glad you wrote about wind turbines. They are both bird and bat killers. Turbine farms should be required to detail how many birds and bats are killed by those atrocities to nature every day.

  9. I am a bird-watcher and have an interest in the subject. Habitat destruction is the only factor that endangers birds because this means the loss of feeding and nesting grounds. A prime example is the Eskimo Curlew which wintered on the Pampas of Argentina. These fertile plains are now cultivated and the Eskimo Curlew has long been extinct. As long as a species has sufficient feeding grounds and nesting grounds it is safe. Global warming poses no threat to any migratory species.
    Concerning data, what a joke to imagine that you can obtain reliable counts on bird populations.

    • You’ve heard of the Whooping Crane, then. 1/3 of the population unaccounted for in 1 short year, their numbers ravaged by wind turbines. If I were to accidentally kill a Whooping Crane, how long would I be in prison?
      How about if I killed 35 Bald Eagles? That’s how many that President Obama said that the operators of the planned/ under construction wind facility in my native Osage County can kill each year. I could easily locate at least 5 Bald Eagles, tomorrow. I would likely spend the rest of my life in prison for taking them and deservedly so. The hypocrisy of the Greens/Left is staggering.

  10. Millions of pet cats and night-light city buildings have been suspected as contributing to songbird population declines. Before blaming AGW, these plausible causes full exploration.

    • Free ranging cats are the biggest killers of ground and low nesting songbirds in any area where acts are allowed to run free. I support laws requiring cats to be kept indoors, confined to the owners year, or to be on a leash.

      • Not a good idea. Here in Calgary, AB we have such laws enacted. It resulted in rabbits population explosion (cats prayed on their offspring), which in turn attracted coyotes in residential areas. Now parents of small kids are afraid of letting them walk to their schools.

      • Kip, those free running acts are a real problem. They should be confined to a local theatre …
        When cats are confined to the owners year, which year should that be, this year, next year or last year?

      • How do you plan on catching all the feral cats? In many areas they outnumber the house cats on the loose.

      • Ah…the deadly typo. year ==> yard.
        Personally? I would do for feral cats what is done for feral dogs — animal control officers capture them, take them to the “pound”, and if not adopted, put them to death (no sense being squeamish about it).
        Pet cats required to have a license and if found running loose by Animal Control their owners can pay a fine and recover them — if not, euthanize.
        This would not be a popular program — but is perfectly reasonable to do for cats what has been done for dogs.

        • Kip Hansen: “This would not be a popular program — but is perfectly reasonable to do for cats what has been done for dogs.” Bad analogy. Dogs are collected because they pack, attack people and domesticated animals, and carry disease. Cats keep rats in check and rats are one of the biggest destroyers of bird eggs and fledglings (aside from other birds),

  11. Pathway asks “What role does winter cold and snow cover play in bird numbers?”
    It depends on the species. For long distance migratory species it is not an issue. For short distance species it is also a minor concern. About half of the breeding species migrate to more tropical climates. Along the California coast many species breeding much further north, migrate to California’s milder snow free habitats. Depending on the winter weather, species that do not migrate will move to nearby regions with more favorable weather.

  12. They all assume or imply that anthropogenic global warming (AGW) is the culprit.

    You know what they say about the word “assume” – makes an ass out of you and me. Or in the case of climate science just makes an ass out of them.

    the Obama Administration has approved a quota of birth deaths per wind farm.

    LOL just LOL. Imagine if a Republican gets into office and decides to actually enforce bird deaths per wind farm – can’t make this stuff up.

    There are also a few reports of increasing populations, like one on woodpeckers.

    Yeah tell me about it, I have never seen so many woodpeckers in my area. What is funny is that anything good that happens like an increasing bird population or new species, or faster growing forests, it is never attributed to AGW. Only bad things are attributed to AGW. It is to the point of superstition; welcome back to the dark ages of spells, demons and witches, except now all that superstition has been neatly wrapped up into something called AGW. I think if I grow garlic plants around my home, I am Ok though, AGW won’t get me.

    • It is positively primitive. Who would have thought it in the 21st century? I was expecting flying cars and Moon colonies. Not this.

  13. I think that time has come for all to take a step back asking themselves the question: Is my assumtion/interpretation based on sound Science. In other words actual figures, not assumptions or corrected figures. If sound than the next question is: Which premisses needs to be proven true in order for each arguments needing to be true being able to hold a thesis up.
    Please observe that fallacies never ever can be used as valid argument in sound Science. Also please observe that it only takes one contradiction,
    Remember that one single black dot on a white paper makes the paper non-white. One single contradiction in a theory is enough for that theory/thesis to be proven wrong.Theories of Science basic knowledge

    • Crows have learned how to live off from garbage in land fills. During the winter crows flock to the landfill not far from me.
      We would be over-run by mice and rats without cats.

      • Reply to Barbara ==> Does your neighborhood suffer from mouse and rat infestation? If you are a cat owner, does your house cat catch and kill mice and rats in your home?
        The “outdoor” cats in our neighborhood spend their time killing nestling songbirds, new-born rabbits, voles and chipmunks. Though there are mice aplenty in the “pantry”, our cats traditionally ignored them, they were presumably either too smart for the cats or not enough fun to chase and catch.
        The idea that cats are rat killers is an old wives tale. Rats are much too big a prey for most cats — and are vicious in a fight. Their are several breeds of dogs, however, that make good ratters. Dachshunds for instance — I could relate the tale of my too cute pet dachsies dealing with the rat that got into my pet store one time — but it is too gruesome for this audience. The dogs won….

    • The brown snake on Guam is a particularly good example — and maybe the only known case of a snake threatening bird populations. Islands are always problematic–80% of modern extinctions occur on islands
      where almost all species are “species” by isolation…new introduce predators — which have no natural enemies — quickly run rampant.
      However, “Rats and cats have had far and away the greatest effect, threatening the survival of hundreds of different bird species worldwide, but other species can also have devastating impacts”…Birdlife.
      Where the birds have somewhere to retreat too and alternate nesting sites — these effects are not as great.

      • True, island species have little chance against introduced species. Island species can be a fascinating subject. There is in New Zealand a reptile most unique which has no relatives on this planet. It looks like a large lizard but in fact is more closely related to dinosaurs. It comes from an order that is believed to not have survived the Jurassic, except for this one species.

  14. Dirk Pitt….October 6, 2014 at 6:46 pm
    “Not a good idea. Here in Calgary, AB we have such laws enacted. It resulted in rabbits population explosion (cats prayed on their offspring), which in turn attracted coyotes in residential areas. Now parents of small kids are afraid of letting them walk to their schools.”
    Unintended consequences will always bite you if you put faith above facts. Utopia is a concept only.

    • Reply to Mark ==> I doubt that the cause==>effect chain is quite that simple. Coyotes have been having a resurgence in almost all parts of North America. My sons hunt them in the Central Hudson Valley of New York at the base of the Catskills.
      In NY, coyote hunting is open from October 1 through March 29 — with no bag limit — for the whole state except Long Island, in an effort to control their population. No cat leash laws here. Cats are, btw, prey for coyotes here in New York, where favored pet cats are kept indoors at night to protect them from roving coyotes.
      Coyote: “It is a highly versatile species, whose range has expanded amidst human environmental modification. This expansion is ongoing, and it may one day reach South America, as shown by the animal’s presence beyond the Panama Canal in 2013.”
      At the interface of the wilds and the city, coyotes have been known to attack humans, mostly small children — mostly in Southern California. Many attacks are now believed to be carried out by “coywolves” — a hybrid coyotes and wolf species that is on the increase. In essence, coyotes and wolves are “breeds” of dog — Canis — and readily interbreed with other dog breeds….even though they are identified as separate “species”.

      • Why would you doubt the answer is so simplistic? Despite being distinctly a city environment coyotes are quite a problem here. Rarely are people attacked but cats and dogs are coyote sushi and usually brought in at night. Coyotes thrive here because they are protected. One city just north of us on the coast finally gave the finger to animal rights activists and started a shoot and trap and euthanize campaign on coyotes when they started entering people’s homes in broad daylight to attack their pets.

  15. The NAS has based their faulty report on the faulty report by IPCC. Habitat loss is the main factor. Climate has had little effect and will have little effect on birds as mpainter said earlier:
    *************
    mpainter
    October 6, 2014 at 5:21 pm
    I am a bird-watcher and have an interest in the subject. Habitat destruction is the only factor that endangers birds because this means the loss of feeding and nesting grounds. A prime example is the Eskimo Curlew which wintered on the Pampas of Argentina. These fertile plains are now cultivated and the Eskimo Curlew has long been extinct. As long as a species has sufficient feeding grounds and nesting grounds it is safe. Global warming poses no threat to any migratory species.
    *************

  16. I remember a old SF novel by Robert Hienlein that was later turned into a movie
    back in the 80’s. Called “The Puppet Masters” In the book he had written a poem that
    describes the condition of the unfortunate consequences of being prey. It went something
    like: “Bigger bugs have little bugs upon their backs to bite them,
    and little bugs have littler bugs, and so ad infiditum.”
    In this case I think we are in the position of being the Bigger and Littler bugs concurrently.
    That is until the birds get us with H5N1. The little sneaks.

  17. The article made no attempt to consider other causes. It was an early example of the pattern in the climate alarmist approach, that any decline or change in flora or fauna is due to human activity.

    I wonder what their funding application said? ‘To examine the decline in X bird species in relation to anthropogenic disturbances.’ ;-p If you want fast, secure funding, this is the way to go.

    Some suggest decline of certain bird species is due to wind farms.

    http://i.cbc.ca/1.1962752.1381464979!/httpImage/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/16x9_620/li-turbine-620-2861173.jpg

  18. Purely anecdotal…
    A Great Horned Owl swooped quietly in front of my wife and me a few hours ago while we were on our neighborhood walk. The sight is still enough to make me stop and point, even though we’ve heard at least three kinds of owls this summer, and, generally speaking, it has been an extraordinary summer for birds of all kinds in this neck of the Colorado front range. It hasn’t been so consistently over the 20 years I’ve lived here. A powerful micro-burst (tornado) swept through this area seven or eight years ago, heaving baseball-sized hailstones through window screens and tearing off roofs over a swath several miles long and a few miles wide. In its wake, and for the next few years, neighbors remarked about the stark quiet that had descended over us. There were no birds because the limbs had been ripped from the trees, other trees toppled entire with their root plates in the air, and grasses pummelled into the dirt. We live in a short-grass prairie once patched with orchards and farms, but now graced with open space parks where, because of an extremely wet spring, the grasses have returned in great abundance. In the meadows, the cheat grass came first, as usual, followed by the buffalo and panic grass, blue gramma, foxtail, bluestem and Indian grasses. As summer rains continued, wheat and oat grasses just kept getting taller til they stood chest high, and along the creeks they stood over our heads.
    With the grasses, of course, come better nesting, burgeoning insect life, and a thriving bird population. In direct contradiction to the census-takers of the Audobon – Autobahn?- who haven’t been seeing many birds, American Kestrels hovered over the fields here just like they always have, overseen by a full complement of bigger aerial predators, including Swainson’s and other hawks, and even a few bald eagles. Tanagers, finches provide flickers of orange and yellow in the cottonwoods, while the starlings and redwing blackbirds create the noise in margins of the lakes. Along the creek, the kingfishers chattered, night herons swooped quietly in the evening and swifts (again, contrary to the alarmist census in the o.p.) threaded the air above the lakes cleaning up the bugs.
    In short, I’ve never seen bird populations as abundant as I’ve seen this year. But then, I’m more of a walker than a bird-watcher, and I’m sure the experts at the Audobon have a truer fix on the problem than I. I just wonder where they are keeping themselves, and.. well, don’t they get out much?

  19. Agree with this, natural patterns are important [that’s the topic], but some credit for the well being of wild life in North America ought to be given to human activities such as the Pittman–Robertson Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act – hunting and fishing gear taxes. Other groups (there are many) such as Ducks Unlimited and other nature conservancy type organizations are helpful. Others will have to comment on such things in other countries.

  20. It’s amazing to think how a little global warming will wipe out birds. These creatures evolved from dinosaurs during the Jurassic Period.
    http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v461/n7264/abs/nature08322.html
    http://www.livescience.com/47128-shrinking-dinosaurs-evolved-into-birds.html
    Yet the WWF informs us alarmingly…

    WWF
    Birds suffer from climate change effects in every part of the globe. Scientists have found declines of up to 90 per cent in some bird populations, as well as total and unprecedented reproductive failure in others.
    http://wwf.panda.org/about_our_earth/aboutcc/problems/impacts/species/cc_and_birds/

    Send more donations please.

  21. I’ve seen the old birds-killed-by-cats numbers still being tossed out as an excuse for chopping and broiling of bird species that often prey on cats as well as on other birds.
    The Smithsonian study often cited for the cat-kill claim was done by green-energy-supporting bird conservationists. Their inflated numbers come from a computer model that extrapolates numbers reported in other studies. The study–blabbed to the world by an unquestioning media–has been roundly criticized by other scientists as being sheer fabrication.
    In my experience, well-fed domestic cats that roam free are more likely to come home with a rodent than a bird. Cats kill black rats that feed on bird eggs from nests not accessible to cats.
    Many birds eat birds. Some seagull species feed on baby ducks, and even robins have been known to kill and eat the young of other birds that have fallen from nests.
    In any case, the bird species commonly killed by cats are by no means endangered (quite the opposite, in fact). There is no relationship between cat predation and the chopping and broiling done in the name of enriching crony corporations.

  22. With wind turbines killing more than 573,000 birds each year in the United States, birds and bats would be well advised to crowd into Japan where they have the sense not to destroy their landscape with Avian-Chompers.

  23. I doubt the overall bird population is declining because we are producing 100 million tons of chickens every year. The equivalent weight of the entire human population every 3.5 years. If we start eating other bird species, their populations will increase dramatically.

      • Reply to mpainter ==> There are interesting, fairly sound, studies on this point. Some of the best have been done using cat-mounted cameras to see what they spend their time doing.
        In my personal experience, our cats kill baby rabbits (quite selectively), any nestling bird found, small birds, flying squirrels, baby squirrels, occasionally red squirrels (which are smaller than greys), voles and chipmunks — but ignore the mice in the pantry (with whom they share the nighttime hours) — and never full-grown rats.

      • Kip:
        In my book rodents and rabbits are fair game for any predator-owls, foxes, coyotes, cats, whatever. I see no danger of running out of these and their fecundity assures their survival.
        A camera mounted on a cat? Hard to visualize that.

  24. “… can link an increase in CO2 levels with bird populaitons …” – difficult to do it (is it even possible?) particularly when, example, is such background (http://www.startribune.com/lifestyle/274551231.html):
    “… other issues may pose even bigger — and much more immediate — problems for the state’s bird population. He’s [Henderson] particularly concerned about contaminants in lakes, especially lead used in fishing gear, that’s poisoning the loons. He also pointed to the loss of grasslands [I would add fragmentation of environments] and an increasing use of pesticides. “If people want to do something to help the loons, they can start requesting nontoxic, loon-safe fishing tackle,” he said.”
    So not only “landscape changes” and “Millions of pet cats and night-light city buildings…” are significant.
    In addition, negative factors may be offset by positive:
    (Tryjanowski , 2014. http://www.plosone.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pone.0063482):
    “Many recent studies have shown that arrival timing is related to temperatures en-route and at destination. Because urban areas are “heat islands”, with higher temperatures that influence earlier vegetation and invertebrate development, this should favour earlier arrival of migrant birds to cities rather than to rural areas.”
    “To date, the timing of when birds return to their breeding area has been a key component of studies of the impact of climate change upon bird populations, because arrivals are strongly related to temperature.”
    “A good example of warmer environments are cities, characterised by higher temperatures than their surroundings and hence sometimes called “heat islands”.”
    “Because of higher temperature, urban environments may also supply an abundance of food due to higher primary productivity, a longer growing season …”
    In the UK in 2013 were rejected 134 applications, only 141 were approved (wind farms). Are to be disposed of wind farms distorting radars (high number of accidents, a few airplane crashes) and new windmills can not be seen on radar. Windmill on the radar screen no different from a small plane.
    Minister Michael Fallon: “… a large part of public opinion [especially England] is a negative attitude to wind farms.”
    Therefore, the ratio of projects implemented to commenced, falls. With c. 70 percent to c. 35 percent.
    Therefore, terrestrial wind farms “cut off” subsidies by 5 percent. Until March 2017 – 95 pounds for every megawatt hour of energy, from April 2017 – 90 pounds.

  25. Deja vu!
    The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, (RSPB), which does very nicely out of huge grants of taxpayers funding from the EUSSR/PDRofEU, are constantly droning on about species reduction through Climate Change & habitat destruction, with a strong emphasis on the former. These are the ones who clamoured for Protected Species status for the Sparrow-hawk, the Magpie, etc. They then claimed CC was the cause of a C was the cause in the decline of Thrush numbers, Magpies eat Thrushes! The logic in incredible!

    • Yes — and it is still true, but only for small, low-nesting song birds and frequent bird feeder visitors, and only in urban areas where cats populations are so high.

  26. National Geographic show the other day showing people catching migrating birds in North Africa in nets by the many millions. Desperate people will eat anything. Best cure is to help people raise their standard of living.

    • But, they have to eat them raw, because they cannot burn fossil fuels to cook them………… ;^D

  27. i got a good question for those fear inducing “scientists” that seem to forget this: how did all those bird species manage to survive ice ages, sudden bond cycles and heinrich cycles where global temperature rises and fall several degrees in just a decade? How did they survive the – much warmer then today – Emian interglacial? if they did how can then a few tenths of degrees of warming suddenly “endanger” them?

  28. It would be nice if like doctors, scientists were held accountable for misdiagnosis. Maybe some of this alarmist hyperbole would go away.

  29. re Jimbo @ 9.10pm
    Alan @ 3.55am
    I cancelled my RSPB sub years ago. Could’nt stand their ecoloon ramblings any longer.

  30. I have read a few essays that claim that, despite efforts by the activists to claim otherwise, during the period when DDT was in wide use the Audubon census showed a large increase in bird populations, lack of parasites was listed as the reason.
    Maybe the decrease is due to the fact that the long term effect of DDT in the water and soil is almost gone. the same reason we see Bedbug’s spreading like crazy.
    Have no idea if this is in fact true.

  31. Audubon’s report is 90% nonsense but it doesn’t help when the Dr. Ball makes such a foolish statement as “Humans are directly killing birds and endangering a few unique species almost all by wind turbines.” Wind machines cause serious avian mortality but habitat loss, cats, tall buildings and power lines are even worse. The avian population loss from habitat loss due to the the insane “green” ethanol fuel program is much worse than the loss from wind. He is correct that many birds just move to better habitat, but there have been many serious losses (and gains) over the last several decades. Avian population estimates from such programs as the Breeding Bird Survey (I was part of the early development) are statistically reliable. The key trend they show is that grassland birds, the group mostly affected by growing more corn for ethanol, show by far the biggest decline. I’m working on a more serious and accurate rebuttal of Audubon’s insane climate report.
    Richard Carlson, co-author, Solar Energy in America’s Future, Stanford Research Institute, 1977.

    • Almost all the bird declines are actually environmental habitat declines.
      The State of the Birds organization (a combined effort of almost every conservation and wildlife group) [ see http://www.stateofthebirds.org ] places the blame for those birds that are declining on habitat loss:
      Grassland birds: “Since 1968, the grasslands indicator for 24 obligate breeding birds declined by nearly 40%, but the decline flattened out beginning in 1990. This recent stabilization noted in the 2009 report continues today,…”
      Aridland Birds: “Aridland Birds: “The aridlands indicator for 17 obligate birds—breeding birds of desert, sagebrush, and chaparral habitats in the West—is the most steeply declining of all habitat indicators, with an overall loss of 46% since 1968. Just since 2009 this indicator dropped 6%, extending a nearly continuous 44-year decline. Habitat loss and frag – mentation due to residential and energy development are the most consistent and widespread threats. Long-term habitat degradation from unsustainable land use, invasions of non-native grasses, and encroachment by trees and shrubs also play significant (and underappre – ciated) roles in the decline. These negative effects have been exacerbated over the past decade by severe drought, creating extremely difficult conditions for aridland birds such as Bendire’s and Le Conte’s thrashers,the two fastest declining species in the aridlands indicator.”
      Coastal Birds: “The coasts indicator for 50 bird species that winter along U.S. coasts has steadily risen 28% above the baseline assessment in 1968, with an 8% rise over the past 5 years—a testament to the wise investments in more than 160 coastal national wildlife refuges and 595,000 acres of national seashore in 10 states.”
      There are several more categories, but these suffice for examples here.
      The significant thing is that NONE of these blame climate change or global warming. The SW US drought is consistent with the historical record of repeating lengthy droughts — and even that is not tied in their report to climate change.
      It is ALL changing habitats — some of which are considered positive by other types of environmentalists — such as the abandonment of farms which revert to forest.

      • Yep, birds are good at filling niches, they’ve been doing it for millions of years.
        Might be something to learn there ?

  32. How long can we support a population of whooping cranes that just refuses to multiply? When the bird disappears it will be a sad day, but this has been going on for decades and decades. Now, we have those damned windmills to worry about killing birds. How long can we play God with species that seem doomed, anyway?

  33. When the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, talk about climate change they mean of course increasing temperatures. What is missing from their assertion that this would be harmful to bird populations, is why? Holidaying in the Eastern Mediterranean, with summer temperatures regularly reaching 40C, you will commonly see breeding birds which you also find breeding in the UK; so not much similarity in climatic conditions there then.
    My favourite two anomalies, and there are many, which point to the apparent unimportance of temperature in determining bird population and distribution are the Collared Dove(Streptopelia decaocto) and the Crested Tit(Parus cristatus).
    The former, famously, until the 1940’s bred no closer to Western Europe than the area around the Bosphorous in the Eastern Mediterranean. By 1955, it was first recorded as breeding in England and now has colonised the whole of the UK and most of Europe. Evidently climatic conditions played no part in the massive expansion of this birds range.
    The Crested Tit in the UK is confined as a resident breeding bird to a small part of Scotland. On continental Europe it is resident and breeds in a massive swathe from Scandinavia, through the Baltics and into Russia, all through Eastern and Western Europe, Germany, France(from the English Channel to the Mediterranean) and on into Spain and Portugal. The idea that the climate within it’s restricted range within Scotland, is more closely like the climate of Scandinavia and the Iberian Peninsula and hence favourable to the population, whereas the climate in the rest of Scotland and the UK is less favourable. is patently absurd.

  34. And then there was this last summer:
    Rare bird last seen in Britain 22 years ago reappears – only to be killed by wind turbine in front of a horrified crowd of birdwatchers
    The white-throated needletail is usually only seen in Asia and Australasia
    Forty birdwatchers dashed to the Hebrides to catch a glimpse of this one
    But as they watched it was knocked ‘stone dead’ after impact with turbine
    Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2350267/Rare-bird-white-throated-needletail-killed-wind-turbine-crowd-twitchers.html#ixzz3FZcMXauG
    Why don’t things like this bring more outrage from the general public? It boggles the mind.

  35. From memory, the drought in the southern US a few years ago resulted in far fewer of a large bird being spotted (trumpeter swan/whooping crane size, in the traditional wintering area). Alarmists jumped on that.
    But as usual with environmentalists they underestimated the birds – many had moved well to the northwest where feeding conditions were better.
    Another case of population changes are snowy owls, who are partial to rodents such as lemmings. Every several years they show up in the lower mainland of B.C. where the wet fields and mudflats (such as Boundary Bay, one time they showed up in Renton at the SW end of Lake Washington) have voles. Many won’t survive the effort, it takes much energy for the journey and hunting. Other birds are more adaptable so stay north when lemming populations are low.
    And Great Blue Herons, also not a particularly bright species, but they do follow food – the lower mainland and southern Vancouver Island in breeding season, nesting close to water, and hundreds of miles north between breeding seasons. Environmentalists want to claim they are a different species from those in SE BC but the populations have been mingling – for those in SE BC it saves the commute south to escape winter freezing.

  36. Beware of bird counts.
    The amateur ones in SW BC suffer from being a short session by volunteers. Worse, observations aren’t well distributed/organized for size and location. Big birds like Great Blue Herons are easier to spot than a few small birds, but there aren’t many so can be missed. And depending on food at that time some birds may be elsewhere enjoying their favourite food.
    (Great Blue Herons are wading fishers but in winter in SW BC go to fields and eat rodents,
    They are often spotted near ditches beside roads, including busy freeways. Some eco-nuts mistake their stillness for serenity, but it is essential to catching food – ripples in the water would alert prey.
    And there may be an example of maximizing the combination of threats and food. For years Beacon Hill park in Victoria BC had a large heron colony despite its busyness. However they moved to Cuthbert Holmes park in nearby Saanich after one of a nesting eagle pair died. (Nesting eagles keep itinerant eagles away.)
    The surviving eagle mated again, nesting in Beacon Hill Park again, so most herons moved back there. Presumably it is closer to some food source. While herons take turns foraging and guarding the nest, a longer foraging journey takes more of their energy. (When not nesting they can roam more, as they just sleep locally wherever the are finding food.).

  37. Bird counts are mostly mumbo-jumbo, for reasons well articulated by people above.
    As someone pointed out, human activity can be very beneficial to birds. Broadacre crops are an absolute bonanza for birds that formerly had to scrounge for food. Where I live, an artificially created city, complete with lakes and millions of introduced European trees (chock full of fruit and nuts) has massively increased the native bird population.
    Measuring bird populations and drawing conclusions is on a par with measuring “the temperature of the planet” in terms of scientific rigour, IMO.

  38. It’s easy for the climate astrologers to claim climate change is affecting birds.
    for two reasons:
    (1) Earth’s climate is always changing, and
    (2) No one can count birds with any accuracy
    .
    This is just as phony as the dying polar bears scam!
    .
    Leftists almost always lie or mislead to promote their big government agenda —
    remember that warning and you will be one step behind them.
    .
    Start calling them descriptive names like “climate astrologers”, and “warmunists”,
    playing “computer games”, and we will be able to hold our ground with them
    in any debate.
    .
    Add real science to the ridicule and we can beat them in any debate …
    but remember that when global warming … er … climate change
    … stops scaring people, they will come up with another coming catastrophe.
    .
    I’ve been watching the leftists since the DDT scare in the 1960’s
    — predicting one coming environmental catastrophe after another
    … catastrophe’s that never come …
    unfortunately many people are easily scared
    into giving up their freedom
    and more of their income (taxes)
    to the goobermint.

  39. Just saw a thrush in my suburban Chicago yard, here they come.
    Those that desire a change of climate, on the wing.

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