Scientists have recorded a major shift in the ranges of many bird species that they attribute to global warming. Recent studies suggest that by the year 2100, there will no longer be oriole birds in Maryland.
Increases in temperature affect when and how birds perform certain behaviors. Many bird species use changes in weather as cues to migrate or nest; so as our region steadily gets warmer, birds begin to fly north or mate earlier in the year than they used to. Depending on the adaptability of the species, these behaviors may fall out of sync with the availability of food sources, which could lead to drastic population declines.
Global warming is also partly responsible for the rise in our sea level because of melting glaciers and polar ice caps. In the Chesapeake Bay area alone, the water level could rise 19 inches over the next 90 years, flooding small islands, threatening essential coastal habitat, and putting migratory waterfowl (like ducks) and shorebirds (like herons) at risk.
The good news is that there are things we can all do to slow down the effects of global warming and protect our natural resources. Visit aqua.org to learn how, or join us at the Aquarium on May 10, 2008 to help celebrate International Migratory Bird Day.