The constant rise in global temperatures is causing problems for our feathered friends as spring comes earlier each year. This leads to a mismatch between the breeding time of birds and the arrival of spring, which negatively affects their populations.
A study conducted by scientists from the University of California at Los Angeles and Michigan State University found that birds produce fewer offspring if their breeding starts too early or too late in the season. Birds are finding it increasingly difficult to recognize the arrival of spring and the breeding time associated with it because of climate change. Spring, which used to mark the first appearance of green plants and flowers, now arrives earlier than usual, creating a mismatch with birds’ readiness to breed.
Scientists warn of potentially catastrophic consequences for birds if this mismatch worsens along with the continuing rise in global temperatures. Casey Youngflash, lead author of the study, stresses the gravity of the situation, noting that by the end of the 21st century, spring could come 25 days earlier and birds will breed just 6.75 days earlier. This could lead to a 12 percent reduction in the breeding productivity of average songbird species.
To address this problem and mitigate the potential impact of climate change on birds, scientists are calling for conservation strategies. Understanding the potential impact of an earlier spring on migratory birds is an important scientific challenge. Morgan Tingley, associate professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of California, Los Angeles, and senior author of the study, notes that scientists have hypothesized for years that animals are incompatible with plants because of the early onset of spring. However, it remains unclear whether an earlier onset of spring will create a common problem for most species.
The breeding success of birds is timedependent, and breeding too early or too late can expose their offspring to adverse weather conditions. In addition, food availability plays an important role, and if birds seek food too early or too late compared to its natural availability, they will not be able to raise their young effectively.