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.

Related Articles


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 March 6, 2015 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 March 6, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Friday, March 6, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Giant Panda Goes Walkabout in Southwest China

Giant Panda Goes Walkabout in Southwest China

AFP (Mar. 6, 2015) — A giant panda goes walkabout alone at night in southwest China. Duration: 00:37 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Nesting Bald Eagle Covered in Snow Up to Its Neck

Nesting Bald Eagle Covered in Snow Up to Its Neck

Buzz60 (Mar. 6, 2015) — The Pennsylvania State Game Commission captured amazing shots of a nesting bald eagle who stayed on its nest during a snowstorm, even when the snow piled all the way up to its neck. Jen Markham (@jenmarkham) has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Lack of Snow Pushes Alaska Sled Dog Race North

Lack of Snow Pushes Alaska Sled Dog Race North

AP (Mar. 6, 2015) — A shortage of snow has forced Alaska&apos;s Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race to move 300 miles north to Fairbanks. The ceremonial start through downtown Anchorage will take place this weekend, using snow stockpiled earlier this winter. (March 6) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Praying Mantis Looks Long Before It Leaps

Praying Mantis Looks Long Before It Leaps

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Mar. 5, 2015) — Slowed-down footage of the leaps of praying mantises show the insect&apos;s extraordinary precision, say researchers. Video provided by Reuters
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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

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