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Report Blames Climate Change for Destroying Critical Bird Habitat

PHOTO: A new NWF report cites many ways in which migratory birds are struggling as climate change contributes to their habitat loss. Photo credit: Rob South
PHOTO: A new NWF report cites many ways in which migratory birds are struggling as climate change contributes to their habitat loss. Photo credit: Rob South
June 19, 2013

LANSING, Mich. - Migratory birds are having a harder time finding homes in Michigan and across the nation, and a new report points to a changing climate as the reason.

The National Wildlife Federation report calls for urgent action to adopt conservation strategies.

Loss of critical habitat is the top threat faced by migratory birds, said Brenda Archambo, a Michigan outreach consultant for the federation.

"A migratory bird's life is a chain of habitats, for feeding and breeding and raising their young," she said. "So when you break any one link, the survival of the species becomes more at risk."

Archambo said bird migration also pumps billions of dollars into the economies of Michigan and the nation.

"In 2001, more than $54 billion was spent to watch wildlife, including more than $4 billion to purchase seeds for wild birds," she said. "Migratory game birds - hunters spent more than $1.8 billion in 2011 alone."

Climate change also is causing birds to migrate to spring and summer nesting grounds before traditional food sources there are available, according to the report, which urges development of "climate-safe" strategies including reducing carbon emissions, investing in clean energy and restoring more wild bird habitat.

The report, "Shifting Skies," is online at nwf.org.

Rob South, Public News Service - MI