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Data Shows North Carolina's Birds Will See Climate Change Impacts

A picture of a cerulean warbler bird.

A new Audubon Society study says most North American winter birds are migrating farther north than they did in the 1960s.

Curtis Smalling is the North Carolina Mountain Office’s director of land bird conservation. He says population changes will sweep across North Carolina.

“Everything form American oystercatchers, Brown Pelicans at the coast to brown-headed nuthatches in the Piedmont, a lot of our mountain species ... cerulean warbler, golden-winged warbler, are predicted to have pretty significant changes in their distributions based on climate change.”

Smalling says the projections come from volunteer data collected annually at the Audubon Christmas Bird Count, which kicked off yesterday.

Smalling says the volunteer bird watching project project began 115 years ago when it was a holiday tradition to hunt birds.

“So, the Christmas count became an alternative to that, to try to see as much as you could see, rather than kill as much as you can kill.”

Smalling says organized volunteer data has offered the Audobon Society thorough, uninterrupted data for more than a century, making it one of the oldest citizen-science projects in the world.

The Christmas Bird Count is open to new and experiences birders alike. More information about bird count circles can be found through the Carolina Bird Club.

Rebecca Martinez produces podcasts at WUNC. She’s been at the station since 2013, when she produced Morning Edition and reported for newscasts and radio features. Rebecca also serves on WUNC’s Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accountability (IDEA) Committee.
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