It’s not hard these days to find predictions on how warm it will be here, on average, in X number of years.
Our bird species mix is going to change right along with the temperature, varied though the forecasts are.
The most recent predictions appeared in the New York Times a few days ago. Its source said our climate in 2080 — a long time from now — will be that of the city of Lansing in the northeast corner of Kansas.
The typical winter there is 15.9°F warmer on average and 38.5 percent wetter than winter in Minneapolis-St Paul.
Another source said average summer temperatures here would rise from 82.8º to 88,º by the year 2050. Six degrees doesn’t sound like much, but then we don’t live outside.
eBird has lists of bird species found in each state, bar graphs showing how common each species is. (eBird is a computer-based collection system for bird-sighting data.)
Here are species, common in Kansas right now, that theoretically — probably — are expected to become regular species here: Bobwhite, Eurasian Collared-Dove, Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, Horned Lark, Tufted Titmouse, Carolina Wren, meadowlarks of both species, Great-tailed Grackle, and Summer Tanager.
All of those have been or occasionally are being seen here now.
Bobwhite is the has-been according to official state bird records. Folks who live in our southeast corner, where Bobwhite were last recognized as wild, will disagree.
They say released birds are reproducing in the wild, the population growing. The birds eventually will be given a weather boost, it seems.
Of the other species, the dove is spreading its range in the southwest part of the state, with south central reports also seen. Four metro sightings of Collared Doves were reported in January, two each in Dakota and Scott counties.
We have Horned Larks with us today, scattered flocks foraging on bare crop fields and along some roads in southern Minnesota. The larks nest in Canada. Wintering larks will be more common here as the landscape dries.
Larks beat robins by weeks as signs of coming spring, not that robins are much of a surprise these days. That species some years ago began responding to shorter, easier winters.
The meadowlarks would be here now but for lack of habitat. They need the grasslands we no longer have. I doubt if warmer weather will change that.
It is estimated that about 100 titmice are permanent residents in the southeast corner of the state. They are seen as far north as the Twin Cities, but rarely, and then on the eastern edge. That population will grow and move north.
Titmice were found as confirmed or probable breeders in the 2015 Wisconsin Breeding Bird Atlas project. The birds were seen in over 40 counties, several of them in southwest Wisconsin along the Mississippi River.
I photographed a Tufted Titmouse near Hudson, Wis., three years ago.
The Carolina Wren’s current Minnesota territory, such as it is, also is in the southeast, with occasional sightings in the metro area. As of 2013 there were two probable breeding records for the state.
Wisconsin had four confirmed records in 2015.
In the Iowa breeding bird atlas efforts, completed most recently in 2012, 59 possible breeding pairs of wrens were counted, with another 34 probable. In 1990, the numbers were 20 and 11. Our birds most likely are moving north from Iowa.
The other Kansas species all are seen here now and again, some more often than others.
Ornithologist Jeff Price about 30 years ago predicted that three-quarters of our nesting warblers would move into Canada as summers warm. These would be the boreal-forest species.
The forest eventually will follow them north, I suppose.