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NWF: Climate Change Threatens Florida Birds

June 24, 2013

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Tourists aren't the only ones flocking to Florida. So do birds, but according to a report from the National Wildlife Federation, migratory birds of all kinds are being threatened by a number of factors.

Birds living from the state's mountains to the sea are in danger, and scientists say climate change is largely to blame.

According to Manley Fuller, president and CEO of the Florida Wildlife Federation, extreme weather and hotter temperatures are most notable along Florida's more than 1100 miles of coastline.

"In sort of a historical, natural context it's known that seas rise and fall and the shorelines have moved over time, but all the projections are now greatly accelerated," he warned.

The decline in the bird population can also affect the economy. Nationwide, in 2011 more than $54 billion was spent to watch wildlife, and $4 billion spent on bird seed alone.

In Florida, the risk extends to several marine bird species, including red knots, a type of sandpiper. Fuller said the loss of shoreline and wetlands is directly impacting the reproduction of many species.

"Oftentimes you get a lot of shoreline disruption when you armor a coast to protect the built-up areas," he noted. "The birds essentially get caught between a rock and a hard place."

Longer summers and shorter winters are also affecting most of the birds studied, because of the time they have to reproduce and the amount of food available.

The full report is at tinyurl.com/lut735y.

Stephanie Carroll Carson, Public News Service - FL