Plants and animals have adapted to specific conditions. But as the climate warms, these conditions are changing as well, and species like the five birds below must adapt fast – or fail.
Golden plover - Chris Gomersall (rspb-images.com)
Both golden plover chicks and adults rely on cranefly – or ‘daddy longlegs’ – larvae and adults for food during the breeding season. It’s been shown that chick growth and survival rates are higher when there are more craneflies around. But cranefly larvae live in the top few centimetres of peat, and die if it becomes too dry. There are fears that a hotter, drier climate could mean that by the late 21st century golden plovers will only be found in the very wettest areas.
Pied flycatcher - Ben Andrew (rspb-images.com)
Pied flycatchers rely on insects to feed their chicks. As a result, they need to raise their young during the short period when insects are most abundant. But with a warming climate this plentiful peak now arrives earlier in the year which may have consequences for some migratory birds if they cannot adapt.
Capercaillie - Desmond Duggan (rspb-images.com)
The population of these iconic birds has plummeted in recent years with the last survey estimating there were only around 1,100 individuals left. The reasons for this are complex. But wetter summers – with more extreme, heavier rainfall events – are believed to be a major factor. If capercaillie chicks get too wet, too often, they get cold and die.
Kittiwake - Andy Hay (rspb-images.com)
As climate change warms the sea, the types of plankton living in UK waters are changing. This affects the species that depend on plankton for food – such as sandeels – and the species that in turn depend on them, such as kittiwakes. As a result, these birds are having to travel further and finding less food for their chicks, who can sometimes starve as a result.
Dartford warbler - Ben Hall (rspb-images.com)
The UK is at the northern edge of this bird’s European range – but surveys suggest this is changing as the climate warms. The Dartford warbler population seems to be moving further north and west into areas that were previously too cold. This might seem like good news, but it’s only half the story. Scientists believe that in this century the climate will also become unsuitable for them across large parts of their southern range, particularly Spain.
The nature and climate emergency threatens our daily life as we know it but your support is already helping the RSPB to provide solutions.
This is the first of a series of blogs that will explore the threats we face, along with natural solutions to the crisis, and is based on a feature in the latest issue of Nature’s Home, the magazine for RSPB members.
Find out about ways you can help on our #MyClimateAction page.
Totally agree. One only has to refer to the RSPB websites to get their findings about Thrush population declines. They specifically cover the myth on predators.
Nonsense. "Song birds" and their predators coexisted for thousands of years without the "song birds" becoming extinct. In my local park there have been at least two Mistle Thrushes' nest this year, plus, in autumn and winter, we regularly see gatherings of Mistle Thrushes feeding on invertebrates on the mown grass areas in the park (e.g a count of 59 about 5 weeks ago). This occurs alongside a breeding pair of Buzzards, regular hunting forays of both Sparrowhawks and Kestrels, and occasional (or perhaps more frequent than I witness) Peregrines hunting here. All these birds of prey regular visitors to the park.
Sadly too many predator birds we are losing many of our song birds and not all down to climate change.
I love my garden and anything nature related and I am saddened that for three years now have not seen or even heard a song thrush in my area of Ipswich. They used to be common garden birds but not any more.
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