Jim Williams has been watching birds and writing about their antics since before "Gilligan's Island" went into reruns. Join him for his unique insights, his everyday adventures and an open conversation about the birds in your back yard and beyond.

Birds moving north to nest

Posted by: Jim Williams under Bird biology Updated: August 11, 2014 - 4:23 PM

As our climate continues to warm, many species of birds we consider "ours" will move north in search of cooler temperatures. Minnesota will lose some of its favorite nesters.

Dr. Jeff Price, a climate scientist who presently is a visiting fellow at the University of East Anglia in Great Britain, a few years ago made bird-population projections for Minnnesota. He based this on a supposed doubling of atmospheric carbon dioxide, a projection for the end of this century.

In his scenario, Minnesota would lose 36 nesting species of birds. We might see those birds in migration but not as nesting residents. That list includes Red-breasted Nuthatch, Purple Finch, Evening Grosbeak, and 17 species of warblers.

An additional 27 species would find their range restricted to far northern Minnesota, perhaps just the Arrowhead region. Gone from our yards would be American Goldfinches, Tree Swallow, White-breasted Nuthatch, House Wren, Gray Catbird, Scarlet Tanager, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Chipping Sparrow, and Song Sparrow, to mention a few. 

We would drive to Duluth or beyond to see a goldfinch, if Duluth’s climate was suitable for goldfinches.

We should note that the projections do not mention particular habitat needs moving north at the same pace. That will not happen, of course, plant movement to be centuries behind that of birds.

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