Newscasts

PNS Daily Newscast - July 19, 2019 


Chants of a different sort greet U.S. Rep. Omar upon her return home to Minnesota. Also on our Friday rundown: A new report says gunshot survivors need more outreach, support. Plus, sharing climate-change perspectives in Charlotte.

Daily Newscasts

"Citizen Science" Maps Critical Habitat for Migrating Birds

Climate change has altered the seasonal cycles, and migrating birds' favorite rest stops frequently are out of sync with hatching insects, blooming flowers and fruiting trees. (Pierre Dalous Wikimedia Commons)
Climate change has altered the seasonal cycles, and migrating birds' favorite rest stops frequently are out of sync with hatching insects, blooming flowers and fruiting trees. (Pierre Dalous Wikimedia Commons)
June 5, 2019

DENVER - Birds are helping scientists understand the impacts of rapid population growth and climate change in Colorado and across the West, thanks to a crowd-sourced "citizen science" project.

John Sanderson, director of science for The Nature Conservancy in Colorado, said that when non-scientists capture images of birds and upload them to eBird, a mobile app developed by Cornell University, they're contributing to a growing database that gives scientists and bird fans access to real-time data on populations across the globe.

"Birds play critical roles in our ecosystems by eating insects, by distributing seed and by telling us what changes are happening in these ecosystems," Sanderson said.

Bird sightings contributed by hundreds of thousands of amateur scientists have helped create a map showing where migrating birds are landing and when they're arriving, Sanderson said. Conservationists and officials, he said, then can use that data to prioritize the most important habitat areas to protect.

Sanderson said climate change has altered the seasonal cycles of plant and animal life, which can threaten food sources for birds along migration routes when their favorite rest stops are out of sync with hatching insects, blooming flowers and fruiting trees. He noted that the Swainson's hawk, widely seen across Colorado during the spring breeding season, spends its winters in Argentina.

"As that bird's moving from Argentina north, it has to stop in many places along the way and refuel," he said. "If it can't find places to stop and refuel, it will run out of energy and not be able to complete its migration."

Sanderson said data from this spring's migration season shows how birds are responding to changing weather patterns and loss of habitat because of development. Rising temperatures have caused birds to seek ranges further north, in higher elevations and along cooler rivers, streams and wetlands. Bird fans can learn more about contributing to the project online at eBird.org.

Disclosure: The Nature Conservancy in Colorado contributes to our fund for reporting on Climate Change/Air Quality, Energy Policy, Environment, Water. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
Eric Galatas, Public News Service - CO