Audubon Society: Climate Science or just Sticking Feathers on PIGs?

Guest essay by Jim Steele,

Director emeritus Sierra Nevada Field Campus, San Francisco State University and author of Landscapes & Cycles: An Environmentalist’s Journey to Climate Skepticism

Audubon[1]September 2014 the Audubon Society launched their climate change campaign with a most remarkable assertion: 314 of 588 bird species are “on the brink” and “will lose 50 percent or more of their current ranges by 2080” due to rising CO2. Avid birder and renowned author Jonathan Franzen shared his resentment of these claims in a recent New Yorker article arguing that focusing on futuristic effects of climate change distracts conservationists from dealing with more immediate problems that can be more readily dealt with. Others were dubious of the hype because many of Audubon’s “climate endangered” species have been enjoying increasing population trends such as the recovering Bald Eagle. While Audubon contends that their provisional scenarios will help future conservation efforts, others have whispered that such an apocalyptic media campaign smacks of a crass fundraising gimmick that relies on dubious models and naive fears.

Are Audubon’s models so reliable they can justify hyping catastrophic conclusions? Will “Audubon science” promote better environmental stewardship? Or, are their projections just another example of misplaced alarmism that has also obscured the critical issues facing butterflies, polar bears, emperor penguins, golden toad, pika or moose. Although we cannot ascertain Audubon’s intent, nor scientifically validate their projections for 2080, we can examine the skill of their models and the trustworthiness of their predictions. This essay illustrates the tremendous uncertainty of Audubon’s models and highlights some of the current research that presently contradicts Audubon’s predictions. Models that provide Pervasive Inadequate Generalizations are PIGs, and PIGs never provide reliable guidelines for wise environmental stewardship. The technical report behind Audubon’s apocalyptic media blitz simply merged Bioclimatic Envelope Models and downscaled Global Climate Models, and both models have been severely challenged within and without the scientific community.

1. Bioclimatic Envelope Models (BEMs) Uncertainty

Bioclimatic envelope models circumscribe the range of temperatures and precipitation that are deemed suitable for an individual species. BEMs are typically not determined by experimentally evaluating the species tolerances for any given range of temperatures and precipitation. BEMs simply correlate the temperatures and precipitation within a species’ current range. The major flaw in these models is the assumption that a species current range is limited solely by those climatic factors and the species is currently in equilibrium with those factors. But the availability of resources and competition with other species will also limit a species range. Landscape changes and overhunting have reduced many species’ range so that their current boundaries may only represent a fraction of what is climatically suitable.

For example, over a century ago the Greater Prairie Chicken ranged from southern Texas to North Dakota. Historically its climatic envelope encompassed a wide range of temperatures (both light and dark green in map below). However due to extensive hunting and habitat loss it was extirpated from most of its historic range (light green). A bioclimatic envelope based only on temperatures in its current range (dark green) would suggest the Greater Prairie Chicken depends on cooler temperatures of the northern Great Plains. But whether natural or man‑made factors raise temperatures 1-2 degrees by 2080, those temperatures would still be within the historical range experienced by Greater Prairie Chicken that once thrived in the southern end of its range.


BEMs assume each species genetically conserves its reliance on a specified climate niche over millennia. For that reason we believe species contracted their ranges towards the equator (or persisted in unique climate refugia) during the last ice age. Conversely, we must likewise assume birds expanded their ranges pole‑ward 6000 years ago during the Holocene Optimum when Northern hemisphere temperatures were 1° to 6°C warmer than today. Typical for most of the northern hemisphere, multi‑proxy evidence suggests the Great Plains were much warmer than today for most of the mid‑Holocene (Fig. 2). Whether man-made of natural, if future warming pushes species pole‑ward, would it be catastrophic as Audubon suggests? Or would species simply re‑colonize habitat that was lost due to the Little Ice Age between 1300 and 1850 AD? The only reason species of the Great Plains would not re‑colonize the prolific grasslands of the Holocene Optimum, would have nothing to do with the current climate. It has everything to do with fire suppression and the loss of over 90% of the grasslands in most regions to agriculture and development.


BEMs are not determined by a species’ physiological limits. Indeed those limits have never been determined for most species. In addition, given that many species are confined to unique habitat and plant associations, a species’ current range is in large part limited by the climatic boundaries of its preferred vegetation (i.e. grasslands, forests, wetlands, etc.). This is why the consensus among conservation biologists is habitat loss has been the greatest threat to birds. So it is highly likely that the ranges and abundance of bird species expanded and contracted in concert with expanding plant species during the Holocene. Just as Holocen warming benefitted grassland expansion, 9000 years ago tree line expanded to the shores of the Arctic Ocean, 100s of kilometers further north than observed today. In California researchers report that Sierra Nevada tree line was at higher elevations for most of the past 3500 years, but was pushed to lower elevations during the Little Ice Age. In some regions of Eurasia’s Ural Mountains, the cold of the Little Ice Age prevented any new trees from spouting for hundreds of years. The current warming that began 150 years ago has enabled a more productive forest ecosystem, so we can infer this warming has also been beneficial for bird species of the forest.

Nonetheless, even if BEMs could fully determine the historical range of a species’ suitable macro‑climates over millennia, BEMs cannot predict how birds will exploit the varied habitats and micro-climates within that range. Paleontologists are increasingly finding “enclaves of benign environmental conditions within an inhospitable regional climate” that allowed species to persist during the Last Glacial Maximum. I have measured micro‑climates within just a 100‑meter radius. Temperatures along a gravelly roadside were 20° to 30°F higher relative to the forested area, and 10° to 15° F warmer than grassy and shrubby areas. In addition to those vegetation effects, varied topography creates a similar wide array of microclimates between north‑facing and south‑facing slopes. As daily temperatures fluctuate by 20° to 30°F, birds can easily exploit a wide variety of micro‑climates. It is likely this great variety of microclimates explains the complex range shifts that are not predicted by “Audubon science” and why so many species have not shifted their range at all over the past century. It also highlights a mechanism that will allow species to persist in their current habitat despite Audubon’s models.

Recent surveys of birds in montane California report that the elevation ranges of 223 breeding species identified a century ago have not altered either their upper or lower range limits. For those species that did shift their range, just as many species moved down‑slope as up‑slope (Fig, 3). Again the difference appears to be more a function micro-habitats than an individual species response to global climate change. Of 53 species that were common to all 3 transects, (Lassen National Park, Yosemite and Southern California), only 5 species shifted their range in a similar manner. For 91% of the species, one population moved upslope in one region, another moved down‑slope or did not shift at all. Furthermore for those species that moved upslope, increased warmth was unlikely to have been the driving factor. Researchers reported that “although the northern (Lassen) region barely warmed on average over the last century, showing localized areas of marginal warming and cooling, the proportion of bird species shifting there was comparable to the other two regions that experienced substantial warming.” Such results again argue that BEMs have very little skill predicting how species’ range will shift. It also suggests Audubon’s woeful predictions of 341 species “on the brink” are at best unsupported premature speculation.


2. Climate Model Uncertainty

To predict how BEMs would shift in the future, Audubon science employed IPCC global climate model predictions that have suggested uniformly and steadily increasing temperatures across North America (Fig. 4). But downscaled IPCC global climate models are notoriously bad at simulating local and regional climate. A 2015 study reported, “Examining the local performance of the [global] models at 55 points, we found that local projections do not correlate well with observed measurements. Furthermore, we found that the correlation at a large spatial scale, i.e. the contiguous USA, is worse than at the local scale.” This led the authors to ask if “the most important question is not whether Global Climate Models can produce credible estimates of future climate, but whether climate is at all predictable in deterministic terms.”

Likewise Dr. Roger Pielke Sr. cited several peer-reviewed papers when he blogged, “regionally downscaled forecasts from global multi-decadal climate model predictions have no skill beyond whatever is in the parent global model.”…  “These global multi-decadal predictions are unable to skillfully simulate major atmospheric circulation features such the Pacific Decadal Oscillation [PDO], the North Atlantic Oscillation [NAO], El Niño and La Niña, and the South Asian monsoon.” Yet it those ocean oscillations that are the major drivers of climate change. Johnstone 2014 wrote that natural shifts in the Pacific Ocean’s circulation “account for more than 80% of the 1900–2012 linear warming in coastal NE Pacific SST [Sea Surface Temperatures] and US Pacific northwest (Washington, Oregon, and northern California) SAT [Surface Air Temperatures]. An ensemble of climate model simulations run under the same historical radiative [Greenhouse gasses and solar] forcings fails to reproduce the observed regional circulation trends. These results suggest that natural internally generated changes in atmospheric circulation were the primary cause of coastal NE Pacific warming from 1900 to 2012.”

In contrast to Audubon’s press releases touting modeled results predicting Maryland’s state bird, the Baltimore oriole, would soon be pushed northward and out of the state by global warming, instrumental data suggests no such change. Instrumental records highlight a century long cooling trend in the southeastern USA (Fig. 5), a region that climate researchers refer to as a “warming hole”. Additionally the brutal winters and record low temperatures for the past few years further stand in stark contrast to Audubon’s simulations that project increasing warmth and northward shifting wintering and breeding grounds. Those cooling trends do not refute the hypothesis of a warming contribution from rising CO2, but do demonstrate how greatly regional temperatures can depart from global climate projections due to natural dynamics. It also suggests Audubon’s climate science contributes precious little to bird conservation.



I have always argued that to be good environmental stewards, we must first understand local climate change, so I am heartened to see researchers are now realizing the Parmesan paradigm of a “coherent global climate fingerprint” does not explain changes in a species range or abundance. Echoing my sentiments, a 2014 research paper Beyond A Warming Fingerprint: Individualistic Biogeographic Responses To Heterogeneous Climate Change In California the authors wrote, “populations respond to climate locally and local patterns of climate change often differ substantially from global patterns. As a result, we are unlikely to diagnose local climate change impacts using a global fingerprint.”

I would add we are also unlikely to diagnose climate impacts using just regional average temperatures. The “average” temperatures in California have assuredly increased since the Little Ice Age, but the average has been driven by rising minimum temperatures, which are typically driven by land use changes and urbanization effects. While rising minimum temperatures may impact the rate of snowmelt, rising minimums do not significantly contribute to heat stress.

Only maximum temperatures exert heat stress on plants and wildlife, and compared to the 1900-1939 period, maximum temperatures have declined over most of California (Fig. 6). IPCC climate models failed to predict these regional cooling trends, in part, because IPCC models run hot and overestimate maximum temperatures. Although these cooling trends do not refute the warming potential of rising CO2, these cooling trends again demonstrate that natural climate variability can oppose CO2 warming and dominate surface temperature trends.


Allen’s hummingbird is an excellent example that demonstrates the failure of “Audubon science” when it combines a bad species BEM with an inadequate climate generalizations. Audubon science predicts the Allen’s hummingbird will lose 90 percent of its current breeding range as global warming shifts breeding habitat northward. But as I watch these hummingbirds flit through my backyard, I know that such a loss will only happen when PIGs fly. In reality maximum temperatures have been cooling throughout most of their range. Second, there are 2 subspecies of Allen’s hummingbird; one is migratory, and the other is a non-migratory permanent resident on the Channel Islands off southern California. As noted in Wikipedia, the non-migratory population dispersed to the mainland and colonized the Palos Verdes Peninsula of Los Angeles County in the 1960s. Since that time the subspecies has spread over much of Los Angeles and Orange Counties, spreading south through San Diego County. This southward expansion of breeding habitat towards the warmer regions is the exact opposite of Audubon’s behavioral predictions.

The migratory subspecies’ breeding habitat is generally restricted to California’s coastal fog belt and extends just into southern Oregon. Although there was a slight warming along California’s northern coast since the end of the Little Ice Age, there has been no warming trend its prime‑breeding habitat since 1950’s as observed in both instrumental data and isotope analyses of redwood tree rings (Fig. 7). Again there is no evidence to support Audubon’s dire predictions.


So why is Audubon straying from habitat preservation issues to hype unlikely dire predictions that will more than likely give Audubon a black eye? As Franzen noted, climate change is a “ready-made meme, it’s usefully imponderable” and that is well understood by Audubon’s new president and CEO David Yarnold. Yarnold was not hired for his scientific expertise. He is a journalist. Before Audubon, he helped the Environmental Defense Fund double their revenues by pushing a climate change campaign, so it is no surprise that he is repeating those efforts for Audubon. But the new climate agenda seems more than a fundraising campaign. There is a definite political agenda. This week Audubon launched a new social media campaign #ClimateThing. The tactic appears to be less about protecting birds, but the perpetuating a meme that blames everything from the war in Syria to prostitution to stray kittens on rising CO2. We are constantly bombarded with media hype that everything we love is threatened by climate change. Hijacking the real conservation issues that face birds is just another example to be used as a political hammer.

Audubon wrote, “Clean drinking water is a #ClimateThing. Kids’ lungs are a #ClimateThing. Environmental justice, disease prevention, food security, economic mobility, family homes, beaches, ski slopes, vineyards, forests, whales, bats, butterflies, and salamanders–each of these is a #ClimateThing, What is yours? “

So I suggest skeptics respond. Go on to twitter and tell Audubon your #ClimateThing demands better science, not fear mongering. Tweet David Yarnold (@david_yarnold) and tell him to get real and stop hijacking the sincere concerns of so many of its members. Reply to tweets and link to the analysis here or on my website and ask for explanations to why “Audubon science” diverges so far from reality. Ask how lowering CO2 concentrations will reclaim lost grasslands or restore watersheds that are so critical to birds. Ask how lowering CO2 will protect the truly endangered species on islands because human introduced rats, cats and stoats against which these birds have no defense. Audubon and real conservation have become another scientific casualty inflicted by the politics of climate change.

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
April 17, 2015 5:15 pm

Audubon is headquartered in Washington.
To be somewhat effective there, Audubon has to be in step with the government. If the government focuses on ‘global warming’ as an action priority, Audubon would be stupid to try to change the story.
Right now, Audubon gets maybe a few added conservation projects approved, because they are seen as politically useful and a team player. Is that dishonest or is it just politics.

Reply to  etudiant
April 18, 2015 6:39 am

“Audubon would be stupid to try to change the story.”
I prefer to use the word “honest” rather than stupid.
I don’t condone lying…I guess you do.

Reply to  mikerestin
April 20, 2015 5:02 am

No, I’m simply stating that as an institution lobbying government, they have to operate within the generally accepted reality. When NOAA, NASA and the AAAS endorse a view of reality, National Audubon cannot create its own alternative version.
If you can offer a more effective strategy for them to pursue, please do.

Reply to  mikerestin
April 20, 2015 12:01 pm

The idea that lying about the effects of something as nebulous as “climate change” begs the question of what “strategy” and what “goal” they are pursuing. What “end” is it that could justify such “means?” It is also worth noting that merely because a set of agencies or political parties “endorse a view” doesn’t make it “a view of reality.” The words “delusion” and “insanity” come to mind.

Janice Moore
April 17, 2015 5:22 pm

ANOTHER well-substantiated exposé, Dr. Steele – thank you!
1.”BEMs are typically not determined by experimentally evaluating the species tolerances for any given range of temperatures and precipitation.”
Conclusion: Adaptation is ignored.
BEM’s are merely simpleminded census-taking.

BEMs have very little no skill {at} predicting …

2. “…downscaled IPCC global climate models are notoriously bad at simulating… .”

GCM’s have demonstrated persistently that they have NO SKILL.

See: Climate Models Fail e book by Bob Tisdale (2013)
1 + 2 = GARBAGE.
Envroprofiteer propaganda to create market share by regulation.
IOW: money (“a root of many kinds of evil”)

Reply to  Janice Moore
April 17, 2015 6:50 pm

Sheesh Janice,
I sometimes wish I was ever so convinced of anything….

Reply to  Janice Moore
April 17, 2015 7:17 pm

Money is the root of all good.
Stolen money is the root of all evil.

Reply to  Max Photon
April 17, 2015 9:13 pm

The LOVE of money is the root of all evil, not money itself.

Reply to  Max Photon
April 17, 2015 9:33 pm

Money is neutral. The love of money is the root of evil…

Steve P
Reply to  Max Photon
April 17, 2015 9:59 pm

The interest in money is the root of all evil.

Janice Moore
Reply to  Max Photon
April 18, 2015 6:03 am

Thank you, MarkW and Annie, for correcting my sloppy writing and inadequate quoting of Scripture. I’ll try to do better in the future.
For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.”
I. Timothy 6:10 NIV
Indeed. Money, per se, is not evil. And “serving” Money is not evil. Only when that serving and what God wants us to do are mutually incompatible is money not to be served. (“‘No one can serve two masters … .'” Matthew 6:24. Often, what “serves” money also pleases God. This is a conflict of laws (here, “masters”) provision. God’s will is to be the controlling principle.

jim Steele
Reply to  Janice Moore
April 17, 2015 8:26 pm

Audubon’s president David Yarnold makes over $500,000 a year. Is that stolen money?

Reply to  jim Steele
April 17, 2015 8:55 pm

If Audubon garners money through deception, then … yes.

Reply to  jim Steele
April 18, 2015 8:20 am

Must be God’s will….

Janice Moore
Reply to  jim Steele
April 18, 2015 10:12 am

“Some {pigs} are more equal than others.”
George Orwell, Animal Farm (youtube)

More apropos Orwell quotes (youtube):

The further a society drifts from the truth,
the more it will hate those who speak it.”

GO, WUWT scientists!!
Keep on speakin’ truth to power.

In the end — truth wins.

April 17, 2015 6:03 pm

I have a model too! It’s not a climate model, it’s an environmentalist organization model and it seems to apply very well to Audubon. (Shh – Audubon inspired it, so it ought to fit!)
The mode is very simple – environmental organizations aspire to become miniature versions of the Nature Conservancy. Why? The Nature Conservancy’s wealth is enormous. It’s all tied up in land holdings, and they don’t throw money around like Greenpeace does, they just quietly picked up interesting properties through highly leveraged means and now have a net worth that probably rivals several small countries. They’ve done a really good job at that. A few people are annoyed at some of the perks they give their execs, like lifetime occupancy on some choice property, but no big deal.
The Audubon Society, back when I was a member in Massachusetts, was so rabidly anti-harm to birds that members tried to block a cull of Herring Gulls whose population was growing (dining at the dump) and putting pressure on a nesting colony of Piping Plovers (birds that need some protection). Apparently the idea of culling marine versions of pigeons was an anathema to them.
Later in New Hampshire, I mostly ignored the birding parts, but helped the state group build a boardwalk through the Ponemah Bog, a very neat place in a densely populated part of the state. I moved to that town, close to the bog, just before it was deeded to Audubon, I wish I had time to scan my slideshow on to my web site. Someday.
Now days, the state group seems to be forming alliances with the Forest Society and other environmental groups and now supports horrors like Industrial Wind Turbines and oppose fracking and other evils of fossil fuel. It’s like it’s a whole different organization, they’ve abandoned their long-time mission to speak for the brids in order to speak for each other as a united, bigger organization. One that is still nowhere near as wealthy as the Nature Conservancy.
While trying to find a position paper from Audubon on wind turbines, I came across the American Bird Conservancy, it looks like they’ve pretty much taken over the bird protection role Audubon used to tout. Like they even petition the Feds to “keep strong rules to protect eagles at wind farms.” Not quite like old times, but a lot closer.

Reply to  Ric Werme
April 17, 2015 7:16 pm

Excellent call on the Nature Conservancy. Holding vast swaths of “open space” is so powerful yet so stealthy.

Reply to  Max Photon
April 17, 2015 9:20 pm

Max, I also supported the Nature Conservancy for a time. But I found some of their dealing to be quite self serving. They allowed some drilling for “evil” fossil fuels on some of their holdings. Nothing wrong with that, but they wanted it to be “our little secret”. If you claim to “conserve” the land “unchanged” for the future then you should do EXACTLY THAT. If you want to purchase land with donations from others and then “profit just a little” from the land before you “preserve it for the future”, you should just tell the “Whole Truth and Nothing but the Truth”
It was a while back (1990’s ?), and I think it was just one “chapter” of a national organization, but it left a “bad taste”.
I have nothing against the blessing bestowed by fossil fuels, and think we can safely benefit from them for centuries to come.
Cheers, KevinK.

April 17, 2015 6:13 pm

Robert Bryce: Killing Wildlife in the Name of Climate Change.
Robert Bryce’s recent testimony has been reprinted as “Killing Wildlife in the Name of Climate Change“. His testimony is a stark and revealing look into how government regulators and enforcement agencies are effectively turning a blind eye to massive levels of wind energy-caused avian mortality (read: dead birds – including golden eagles and other protected raptors).
Bryce’s testimony reveals how little the push for so-called green energy has to do with environmental protection and sustainability. In fact, his testimony demonstrates that the wind industry has been allowed to essentially avoid prosecution under the Endangered Species Act and The Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, as well as other foundational environmental legislation. The fossil fuel industry, however, has been swiftly prosecuted and made to pay extensive fines when their activities had any perceived impacts on birds or other wildlife.

April 17, 2015 6:14 pm

On the subject of hummingbird breeding territories, really, how can a hummingbird in Jamaica be that different from the hummingbirds in California or here in Illinois? They all fly south from here to avoid cold which they truly cannot survive, but when it was 115F nearly every afternoon here, for a month of 2012, we saw lots of young birds. Don’t they just seek out suitable residence somewhere that’s most convenient for breeding and won’t freeze?

Danny Thomas
April 17, 2015 6:34 pm

Specific to the Attwater’s Prairie Chicken, the current thinking is three parts. Initially overhunting. Habitat modification from coastal prairie grasses to agriculturally oriented monoculture, and imported red fire ants destruction of the small insect populations needed to feed the young. CO2 ain’t in there anywhere: (Attwater’s is a coastal subspecies)
Ground nesting birds across the areas inundated with imported red fire ants are affected.

April 17, 2015 6:35 pm

Environmentalist in San Francisco can’t put up with the bs anymore. I think we are turning a corner here.

Reply to  Charlie
April 17, 2015 7:21 pm

Maybe, just Maybe.

Reply to  Charlie
April 17, 2015 9:12 pm

Charlie- If you haven’t read his book- you should- it really explains how he became a skeptic (Basically he questioned what we were being fed with what he knew to be true). We need to support scientists/authors like Jim Steele who are bold enough to speak out against the media machine.

Reply to  Louise Nicholas
April 18, 2015 4:35 am

Not to sound like captain obvious but that is how everybody here became a skeptic. The importance here is not so much his or her academic background . It her is her political tribe. This whole thing is about politics and propaganda. The major shift in this scam lies mostly on people like this liberal environmental scientist to have a moment of clarity enough to stand up for what is ethical. It’s not like it’s hard to become a skeptic if you are being honest about this issue. The more anybody researches the more skeptical they will become. We need 100 of these guys for every Bill Nye or bill Maher in the media.

Reply to  Charlie
April 18, 2015 9:44 pm

Jim Steele has been posting here since mid-2013. I’m surprised you’ve missed his posts.

April 17, 2015 7:01 pm

More Models, yet none of the Models ever worked. Did the Fed Models alert them to the Great Recession. Did the IPCC Models ever predict anything (I think they do have a Model for future Funding and it seems that has worked)
They get away with this BS; AmeriKa, AmeriKa, land of the progressives.
Keep on roasting by solar farms and slicing by Wind towers. Keep spewing the 1/2 truths (at best).

April 17, 2015 7:45 pm

we believe species contracted their ranges towards the equator (or persisted in unique climate refugia) during the last ice age. Conversely, we must likewise assume birds expanded their ranges pole‑ward 6000 years ago“. I find bird migration interesting – how did the first bird that flew thousands of miles from one seasonal habitat to another know that the other habitat was there? My interpretation is that during a glacial, the birds were not flying very far at all, but that as the world warmed to an interglacial so they had to fly further and further between the seasonal places they were used to. In other words, birds are incredibly capable of surviving major changes in climate.

Phil R
Reply to  Mike Jonas
April 17, 2015 8:30 pm

It wasn’t the first bird. It was the first egg. 🙂

Reply to  Mike Jonas
April 17, 2015 9:02 pm


Reply to  Mike Jonas
April 18, 2015 4:05 am

Mike (April 17, 2015 at 7:45 pm)
One of the most interesting things I learned from studying Conservation was that while many bird species follow the annual pattern of the seasons as the sun progresses from south to north and back again, tracking the abundance that summer brings, individual bird families prefer to stay in a familiar home territory. Consequently those northern hemisphere birds at the northern limit of their species range, while they have benefitted from the abundance of summer, feel the approach of winter soonest. These birds are forced to fly south first and so have to fly over those birds that occupy the territories in the centre of the species range. The centre ground birds will respond to the approach of winter later in the year and if the habitat is suitable, not move far at all.
Now (as you suggest) imaging a situation for a species living in North Africa 20,000 years ago at the height of the last ice age, its central range is the moist Sahara, those birds living on the northern limit at the Mediterranean coast are forced to fly south to the Atlantic coast of west Africa for their winter quarters, because the birds living in the moist Sahara remain put for the winter. Then 10,000 years ago comes the ultimate climate change from ice age to interglacial, the Sahara gradually dries out and eventually becomes an inhospitable desert. The species loses the habitat in the middle of its range, but does not become extinct because those bird families that had to fly over the formerly occupied centre ground continue to survive by annual migration, flying over the now barren central Saharan desert.
Migration is a consequence of seasonal change and territorial behaviour. Long distance migration is a response to and a consequence of climate change.

April 17, 2015 8:49 pm

Well, around here in Upstate NY (far from the concrete jungle known as Manhattan) many species have made a remarkable comeback in the last 30 years. Eagles and Peregrine Falcons, with help from Man (re-introduction) have gone from a few nesting pairs in the state to dozens of nesting pairs. Several pairs nest on the tall downtown buildings in Buffalo and Rochester, unheard of 30 years ago. If you wanted to see a Peregrine Falcon in New York State in the 80’s you had to travel to the North Country. There was one mating pair of Bald Eagles on Hemlock Lake (a restricted area since it is part of Rochester’s water supply) back in the 1980’s, now I can see them from my residence on Lake Ontario several times each summer. Still a majestic bird, I don’t care what Ben Franklin thought about them (he wanted the National Bird to be the Turkey).
Since the Great Lakes have been cleaned up (one good outcome from the EPA) the Osprey population is returning of it’s own accord. I see them several times a week while commuting to work.
As the natural forested condition of New York State is returning back to something closer to “pre-settlement” condition the forest dwelling birds (Ravens, Grouse and Pileated Woodpeckers) are also returning to their “original” ranges. As is the black bear, the young males are coming up from the New York / Pennsylvania border area all the way up to the shore of Lake Ontario, crossing several interstate highways along the way.
The great Adirondack Park with it’s majestic forests ? Well it was the first State Park established in the USA, but that was because it was virtually clear cut and it was a bunch of “naked” mountains when it became a state park. Most of New York State was forested completely to house a growing population. There are only a few “Old Growth” forests in all of New York State, Stony Brook State Park is one of them, everything else is “re-growth”, a healthy forest, but with different tree species.
Sure, land use changes have made a difference, before the East Coast was settled the Robin was a grasslands bird and was not common on the East Coast, now we can’t shut the silly things up in the morning. A nice melodious song, but it does get old after several hours of it.
And the Red Winged Blackbirds always return to this neck of the woods right around St.Patrick’s day, year in year out. This year the ground was still covered in snow and the marshes frozen, but they manage.
So, did the Audubon Society “model” any of these outcomes correctly 30 years ago ? Not really.
I think the Audubon Society is full of Guano, I stopped donating about 15 years ago.
PIGs indeed, sure glad they don’t fly AND poop…..
Cheers, KevinK.

April 17, 2015 8:54 pm

Oh, just to clarify, it is the Peregrine Falcons that are nesting on tall downtown buildings, not the Bald Eagles, but that would be really impressive if the Eagles start doing that too……

April 17, 2015 9:03 pm

Whoops, I wrote;
” Most of New York State was forested completely to house a growing population. ”
Should have been;
” Most of New York State was DE-forested (clear cut/harvested) completely to house a growing population. “

April 17, 2015 9:08 pm

Thank you Mr. Steele- I’m addicted to your exposes. Informative and very clear. They also show your compassion for the environment and nature. I think I’ve watched almost every lecture you have posted on youtube and have read your book. Excellent!

April 17, 2015 11:00 pm

It’s sad that so much of our national dialogue is consumed by heavy handed campaigns of extortion by agenda driven organizations. If you have school age children, you soon realize that the Audubon Society, Greenpeace, WWF, etc. are out to emotionally blackmail your children into an ideological submission; it’s a violent assault on a young person’s sense humanity. It’s an endless bombardment of “sciency” sounding harangues intended to guilt trip your family into living a lifestyle based on an amalgam of conflicting environmental superstitions. Basically, citizens of the future are required to “CARE” in a sentence fragment that never quite connects with a real problem to be solved, but only to never disagree or say “no” to their authoritarian minders. I can already hear the response of the propaganda machine to Jim Steele’s thoughtful analysis: “So, Jim, you don’t care about wildlife?”

Mac the Knife
April 17, 2015 11:18 pm

As a boy growing up in Wisconsin in the 1960s, we had Baltimore orioles nesting in our silver maples in the front yard of our farm. Their bright orange colors, cheerful calls, and ‘hanging sock’ woven nests were a delight to enjoy each year.
I guess the Baltimore orioles had already been ‘forced north’ to WI by the ’60s, when we were having some very deep snow and cold winters. They nested in those maple trees after harsh winters and mild winters, mild summers and hot summers, regardless. They exhibited no ‘climate sensitivity’ at all, but I suspect they enjoyed the bugs and fruit that our farm and abundant gardens provided, as we grew extensive fruits and vegetables for our own use and for sale at our farm market. Abundance of food sources adjacent to tall deciduous trees to support nesting and reproduction seemed to be their driving motivation, as I recall.

Reply to  Mac the Knife
April 17, 2015 11:50 pm

Ah yes, the song of the Orioles, the sweetest bird song of all, they do seem to just really enjoy life as a bird. They pay no attention to the “climate models” and just “go on” with their life. We watch their “sock nests” as they perpetuate their “kind”, really an engineering marvel. Quite a joy to see one early in the morning as the Sun comes up and the light flashes off their feathers. We are lucky to have a few “married couples” hanging around in the “backyard” every year.
Does make you winder how something so “fragile” that could become “extinct” (based on climate models) can just keep showing up every year and “doing it’s thing” year after year….. For centuries…..
The Birds are doing just fine, the “climate science” birdbrains should get out of their Ivory Towers once and a while and observe what is really “happening” with the “climate” i.e. NOT MUCH……

Mac the Knife
Reply to  Mac the Knife
April 18, 2015 9:18 pm
Alan Robertson
April 18, 2015 1:34 am

Prairie chickens would find plenty to eat and thus be able to thrive in many more places than their current diminished ranges, but their temperament prevents their range expansion. Those noble birds are completely averse to man- made structures, or raucous behavior and will not take up residence around us. When I was a boy on the tall grass prairie (the small dark green dot in the lower light green area of Jim’s map,) we were allowed an annual 2- day prairie chicken hunt and it was always a big deal and we never missed it.
Now, the birds are protected and season is closed, yet massive windgens are being built on the Osage prairie. I’m sure that will not help the birds thrive or expand their range. I don’t think those big atrocities will do our local eagle population any good, either, but POTUS has declared that it’s ok to kill some number of eagles every year in order to save the planet. Wish he’d been thinking about saving the prairie chickens, too.

April 18, 2015 2:35 am

Birds are just tiny ‘dinosaurs’ who perfectly adjusted to the climate change incorporating the both the ice ages and regretfully far too short warm periods in between. Their much larger cousins failed to do so, nature can be cruel to those who outgrow its variability. Humans should learn from birds not the dinosaurs.

Reply to  vukcevic
April 18, 2015 4:06 am

The dinosaurs (well, the flightless ones) were long gone before glaciation returned. Nevertheless, there is no doubt that dinosaurs inhabited the high latitudes (which were warmer than today but still subject to winter darkness). There is even evidence that dinosaurs migrated with the seasons, just as mammals and birds do today.

Reply to  opluso
April 18, 2015 7:30 am

I’ve just look at the link, there is heading ‘Polar dinosaurs’, not sure that is correct since continents have drifted some distances since.

April 18, 2015 3:24 am

Thank you Sir for the usual reality check after the alarmism of the BBC News etc. The latest scare is that climate change will be bad for rabbits because of heat stroke. These ”scientists” have not seen the high numbers livimg in the Australian heat.

John W. Garrett
April 18, 2015 4:12 am

I happened to stumble on the climate issue of the Audubon Society’s magazine, though I can’t remember exactly where. It may have been at a doctor’s office. I distinctly recall skimming through it and rolling my eyes at the all-too-predictable predictions of disaster and impending doom and wondering what kind of simpletons fall for that kind of transparently obvious, bald-faced effort to provoke a MONETARY response. If these people were halfway honest, the magazine cover would simply read, “SEND MONEY OR THE BIRDS DIE.”
Of course, there, in all his glory, was the former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, attempting to atone for a life of theft in the service of Goldman Sachs.
The whole thing made me wretch.
P.S., I like birds.

Bubba Cow
Reply to  John W. Garrett
April 18, 2015 5:31 am

Audubon climate scare mag at doctor’s office:
too funny, sad, ironic, pathetic . . .

Reply to  John W. Garrett
April 18, 2015 9:28 am

“Send money or the birds die”… I get at least one of those emails every day from the Audubon Society. I belong to my local Audubon and don’t mind supporting their meetings and local efforts. Any email I get from the California Audubon or the national Audubon Society goes straight into the trash. They are nothing but alarmist money whores.

April 18, 2015 6:25 am

Or, are their projections just another example of misplaced alarmism that has also obscured the critical issues facing butterflies, polar bears, emperor penguins, golden toad, pika or moose.
Gets my vote.

April 18, 2015 6:44 am

What we have here, is a bunch of birds “fowling” up the climate debate.
(Hey, somebody was going to say it.)

April 18, 2015 9:42 am

‘relies on dubious models and naive fears.’ so they are acted normal for those in climate ‘science’ then !
After all when your facts are rubbish then ,dubious models and naive fears, may be all you have.

Steve P
April 18, 2015 11:28 am

Ask how lowering CO2 will protect the truly endangered species on islands because human introduced rats, cats and stoats against which these birds have no defense.

No disagreement, but taking note of the many words describing what is not the problem, and the single sentence mentioning in passing a real problem, specifically cats.
I’m not about to say that the enormous amount of time and energy spent by skeptics disproving the CAGW fraud has been an entire waste, but I am reminded of the observation that controlling the hoi polloi is a simple matter of baffling the masses with bullshit, while keeping the brighter folks arguing about the details.

April 18, 2015 11:53 am

BEM = ecological fallacy.

April 18, 2015 2:03 pm

In my younger SF-fan days, BEM meant ‘Bug-Eyed Monster’. Might be an appropriate metaphor for a ‘Bioclimatic Envelope Model’.
/Mr Lynn

Reply to  Larry Butler
April 18, 2015 3:41 pm

Larry Butler
I-131 has a life life of only 8.02 days
The Fukushima accident occurred 11 March 2011 – 1499 days ago.
This is 187 half-lives ago.
Why do you believe I-131 is a problem now?
(There are serious remaining radiation hazards remaining inside those reactor buildings, but exposure to the public is not one of them.)

Bruce of Newcastle
April 18, 2015 3:47 pm

I don’t understand how the Audubon Society and PETA can live with themselves. The harm caused by wind turbines to wildlife is enormous. They might argue that action against global warming is necessary (which I don’t think is needed, since ECS is below 1 C/doubling) but that does not stop their environmental protection responsibility. You should be able to walk and chew gum at the same time.
If an organisation like Audubon believes in CAGW then the consistent approach is to support energy technology which minimises harm to wildlife and reject technology which is harmful.
That approach would immediately support relatively harmless rooftop solar PV with battery storage, and reject wind turbines and solar thermal which massacre tens of millions of birds and bats. And then there is nuclear which is also harmless to wildlife, but in view of nuclear controversy at very least I would have expected Audobon to praise rooftop solar PV and damn wind turbines. But they don’t.
Because of that they have destroyed their own credibility. Hypocrites have a habit of doing that.

Gary Pearse
April 19, 2015 9:03 am

Jim, birds have wings, at least most of them can fly. Now if we were being told about slugs and snails, I might be more easily convinced that something harmful could come with a degree or two increase. I’m from Winnipeg, Manitoba originally and I recall that bird species in the city were pretty much sparrows, robins, woodpeckers, wrens, catbirds, ravens, finches, various ducks and geese, hummingbirds and the like. I left Winnipeg 50 years ago, but visited in the in the late 1990s and was surprised to see Blue Jays, which I knew from the Lake of the Woods area in Ontario, and cardinals, which I see all summer in Ottawa, Canada. These birds were definitely not there when I was a boy. It did warm during the 80s and 90s and these birds came to Winnipeg. This convinces me birds are very adaptable. I was surprised to see cardinals arrive in Ottawa even during a wintry spring with lots of snow which we have been having for several years now.
I’m a geologist and not a bird expert but I do get out a lot! Audubon, perhaps not so much.

April 19, 2015 7:49 pm

Audubon…right up there with PETA(people eating tasty animals). The two pair of Canada geese in my backyard are doing just fine. Their forbearers where here long before me, and their off spring will be back next year, usually around mid-February when we still have 3′ of snow (Edmonton,AB). They have no problem living and thriving. The goons at Audubon need to get their noses out of the pig trough and step outside for a bit. Won’t happen though.

April 19, 2015 7:55 pm

Oh. We have peregrines, 12 pairs I believe, nesting on the 40 story towers downtown. Beautiful to watch, especially when they are taking out those pesky pigeons :).

jim Steele
April 19, 2015 9:13 pm

I just watched 10,000 Pacific Loons migrate by in just 2 hours at Pigeon Point CA. Their numbers are increasing and they breed in the Arctic. where “warming is amplified”.

David Cage
April 20, 2015 12:20 am

Surely the one creature best placed to just move to where the weather is right is a bird. It has no problem with the odd barrier of woodland or river or even a mountain or two in the way. What is more likely to affect them is the change of use of land from crop based agriculture to bio fuels or worst still to wind and solar “farms”.

%d bloggers like this:
Verified by MonsterInsights