Survival by Degrees: 389 Species on the Brink

Survival by Degrees

Climate change, although it has become a political football, is a clear and present danger to all life on Earth. Perhaps the most comprehensively studied and visible group of living organisms is birds. Birds, for many reasons, are ideal subjects since they are mobile and environmentally reactive and are also easily observed and, thus, very well documented. The landmark 2019 National Audubon Society (NAS) climate report titled “Survival by Degrees” should be a globally acknowledged document and all of us ought to be familiar with it. This report is based upon multidisciplinary science and the observations of millions of birders like you and me. In many respects, this report is truly the “Canary in the coal mine”.

Find the report by clicking here: Survival by Degrees

The heart of this website for the report gives you the opportunity to view bird species response to environmental temperature change by species and by location.

Range Red-napped Sapsucker

Habitat loss of Red-napped Sapsucker with 1.5 degree C warming( Click to enlarge)

The report is interactive as well as informative. When you go to the homepage, you are asked to enter your zip code or state. This takes you a page that lists the predicted bird species range response to three different temperature change scenarios. When Arizona is selected, we can see that if the global temperature increases only 1.5˚C, two species – Red-naped Sapsucker and Cassin’s Finch are likely to be severely impacted in terms of range loss. We can select a temperature increase of 2.0˚C and find that fifteen species will experience range loss which will severely limit their distribution on the state. Choose a 3˚C temperature increase and the number of lost or nearly species jumps to forty-eight. The model also lets you select which bird species you wish to follow and makes it even more personal by allowing you to zoom in to a tight area such as the Verde Valley or Flagstaff region. You can get an idea of where your bird’s range or occurrence will either be severely limited or be absent entirely.

This website for the report can easily absorb hours if you wish to use it to its full potential. It works so well in such detail because of three basic reason: 1) You and millions like you have submitted uncounted bird sighting data from thousands of locations. and 2) Ornithology has progressed to a point where the habitat requirements of bird species are well known and 3) Climatologists are able to make accurate predictions of the impact of warming on local locations. So, we can sit at home and experience the fruits of the labors of many including ourselves.

The website link given above is a great tool for using the information contained in the actual 37 page report which can be seen by clicking here:

As you use the website and/or read the report, we hope that you really appreciate the true value of your eBird reporting. Without our reporting, there would be only guesswork about the current ranges of these bird species. Because we all have diligently reported our sightings – regardless of whether or not a bird is common or rare – a huge database exists which forms the fundamental framework of this predictive model.


Keep on birding and keep on eBirding!