Climate change is causing birds to shrink, U.S. study suggests

Since 1978, researchers have scooped up and measured tens of thousands of birds that died after crashing into buildings in Chicago during spring and fall migrations. Their work has documented what might be called the incredible shrinking bird.

A study published on Wednesday involving 70,716 birds killed from 1978 through 2016 in such collisions in the third-largest U.S. city found that their average body sizes steadily declined over that time, though their wingspans increased.

READ MORE: European Union will likely miss 2030 greenhouse gas reduction target, report says

The results suggest that a warming climate is driving down the size of certain bird species in North America and perhaps around the world, the researchers said. They cited a phenomenon called Bergmann’s rule, in which individuals within a species tend to be smaller in warmer regions and larger in colder regions, as reason to believe that species may become smaller over time as temperatures rise.

Story continues below advertisement

The study focused on 52 species – mostly songbirds dominated by various sparrows, warblers and thrushes – that breed in cold regions of North America and spend their winters in locations south of Chicago. The researchers measured and weighed a parade of birds that crashed into building windows and went splat onto the ground.

Trending Stories

  • Tarekh Rana is an acclaimed Ajax businessman. Is he also a fugitive crime boss?

  • Trump calls Trudeau ‘two-faced’ after video appears to show leaders gossiping

Popular Videos

  • Trudeau, other leaders caught on camera ‘mocking’ Trump during NATO reception

  • NO TIME TO DIE Trailer

More from Global News

  • Electric eel powers Christmas tree lights in shocking aquarium exhibit

  • Are small nuclear reactors really better? Here are the pros and cons

Climate point-of-no-return ‘hurtling towards us,’ UN warns world leaders

Over the four decades, body size decreased in all 52 species. The average body mass fell by 2.6 per cent. Leg bone length dropped by 2.4 per cent. The wingspans increased by 1.3 per cent, possibly to enable the species to continue to make long migrations even with smaller bodies.

READ MORE: Global effort to stop climate change ‘utterly inadequate,’ UN chief says

“In other words, climate change seems to be changing both the size and shape of these species,” said biologist Brian Weeks of the University of Michigan’s School for Environment and Sustainability, lead author of the study published in the journal Ecology Letters.

“Virtually everyone agrees that the climate is warming, but examples of just how that is affecting the natural world are only now coming to light,” added Dave Willard, collections manager emeritus at the Field Museum in Chicago who measured all the birds.

More than 20 million people a year made refugees by climate disasters: report

The study provides fresh evidence of worrisome trends for North American birds. A study published in September documented a 29% avian population drop in the United States and Canada since 1970 and a net loss of about 2.9 billion birds.

Story continues below advertisement

“I think the message to take away is this,” Weeks said. “As humans change the world at an unprecedented rate and scale, there are likely widespread and consistent biotic responses to environmental change.”

© 2019 Reuters

Related news

Netflix Christmas film about gay Jesus sparks huge backlash as 1 MILLION people called for it to be pulled.

A BRAZILIAN Netflix film about a gay Jesus has sparked a huge backlash – with 1 MILLION people calling for it to be pulled. The First Temptation of Christ – a 46-minute comedy flick showing Jesus as a closeted homosexual – was re...

EU looks at extending Brexit transition period beyond 2020.

Move is being considered by EU officials in face of Johnson not seeking extension beyond 11 monthsEU leaders would take the initiative and request an extension to the transition period, keeping the UK under Brussels regulations beyond 2020, under ...

Military police remove climate protesters from Schiphol airport.

Hundreds of demonstrators call for international hub in Amsterdam to curb emissionsDutch military police have begun forcibly removing a group of climate protesters at Schiphol airport in Amsterdam after they refused to leave during a demonstration...

«Just A Little Progress» : Qatar PM On Solving Dispute With Saudi, Others.

There has been small progress in resolving a bitter dispute between Qatar and some of its neighbours, the Gulf state's foreign minister said on Saturday, just days after its premier visited Saudi...

Anger Erupts At UN Climate Summit As Major Economies Resist Bold Action.

Major economies resisted calls for bolder climate commitments as a U.N. summit in Madrid limped towards a delayed conclusion on Saturday, dimming hopes that nations will act in time to stop rising...

Продовжуючи переглядати World News (UAZMI), ви підтверджуєте, що ознайомилися з Правилами користування сайтом, і погоджуєтеся на використання файлів cookie