Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Climate Change Creates Dramatic Decline In Red-winged Black Bird Population

Date:
November 17, 2006
Source:
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Summary:
Global warming strikes again. A University of Illinois researcher reports that a red-winged black bird population in Ontario, Canada has decreased by 50 percent since 1972. The decrease is related to a positive shift in the North Atlantic Oscillation which has resulted in warmer, wetter winters in the southeastern United States.

Red-winged black bird.
Credit: Image courtesy of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Global warming strikes again. A University of Illinois researcher reports that a red-winged black bird population in Ontario, Canada has decreased by 50 percent since 1972. The decrease is related to a positive shift in the North Atlantic Oscillation which has resulted in warmer, wetter winters in the southeastern United States.

When Patrick Weatherhead put his 25-year data about the red-winged black bird alongside climate records, he found a direct correlation with the North Atlantic Oscillation. The NAO is a dominant cause of winter climate variability in the North Atlantic region ranging from central North America to Europe and much of Northern Asia. It has been on an upward trend for the past 30 years.

Weatherhead, an ecologist who specializes in the behavior of birds and snakes, says that although some people may be in denial, global warming exists. "There are long-term records that show melting glaciers and altered ecological patterns like earlier migration and earlier nesting of birds.

"When you first start out, you don't set out to get 25 years of data on a topic," he said. "But when you're in the field long enough like I have been, that's what you wind up with -- long-term ecological data which may have unintended uses."

The data was collected in Ontario, Canada at the Queen's University Biological Station from 1975 to 2000, with some additional data in 2005.

"We also found that although the breeding season started at the same time each year, it lasted longer," said Weatherhead. "The birds appear to be interpreting the longer season as the end of the season lasting longer, when more female eggs typically hatch, so that shift has affected the population sex ratio."

Over the years, Weatherhead's team has put bands on the legs of thousands of red-winged black birds in order to track their nesting habits. They winter in southeastern United States. In mid-July they become gregarious and switch from eating insects to eating corn and have caused millions of dollars of damage.

Red-winged black birds feed on corn borers, so that makes them well-liked by farmers, until they switch in the breeding season to eating corn. That's when the hero suddenly becomes the pest.

So, is the 50 percent decline in population a good thing for the environment?

Weatherhead says that what will happen in the future isn't clear, but if the climate trends continue, there are likely to be further changes in population size.

In 2005, Weatherhead returned to the marshy region of Canada where the other decades of data had been collected. The North Atlantic Oscillation had returned to neutral values. "We found that the harem size [the number of female birds per male] had rebounded to 2.06 which is less than expected, but it did go up. We are currently measuring the length of the breeding season to see if that has changed, affecting the sex ratio as well."

The data collection was funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Council of Canada and the University of Illinois.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. "Climate Change Creates Dramatic Decline In Red-winged Black Bird Population." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 November 2006. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/11/061113175925.htm>.
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. (2006, November 17). Climate Change Creates Dramatic Decline In Red-winged Black Bird Population. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/11/061113175925.htm
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. "Climate Change Creates Dramatic Decline In Red-winged Black Bird Population." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/11/061113175925.htm (accessed August 21, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Drug Used To Treat 'Ebola's Cousin' Shows Promise

Drug Used To Treat 'Ebola's Cousin' Shows Promise

Newsy (Aug. 21, 2014) — An experimental drug used to treat Marburg virus in rhesus monkeys could give new insight into a similar treatment for Ebola. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Terrifying City-Dwelling Spiders Are Bigger And More Fertile

Terrifying City-Dwelling Spiders Are Bigger And More Fertile

Newsy (Aug. 21, 2014) — According to a new study, spiders that live in cities are bigger, fatter and multiply faster. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Lost Brain Cells To Blame For Sleep Problems Among Seniors

Lost Brain Cells To Blame For Sleep Problems Among Seniors

Newsy (Aug. 21, 2014) — According to a new study, elderly people might have trouble sleeping because of the loss of a certain group of neurons in the brain. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ramen Health Risks: The Dark Side of the Noodle

Ramen Health Risks: The Dark Side of the Noodle

AP (Aug. 21, 2014) — South Koreans eat more instant ramen noodles per capita than anywhere else in the world. But American researchers say eating too much may increase the risk of diabetes, heart disease and stroke. (Aug. 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins