brown thrasher

An adult brown thrasher rests atop a fence in the Tulsa area. JAMES ARTERBURN/Courtesy

As scientists learn more about our changing climate and the responses that plants, birds and other wildlife are already undergoing to cope with it, predictive models become more sophisticated and more accurate.

These observed changes, as well as predictions based on carefully collected weather data and wildlife surveys, are being reported not only in scientific journals such as Ecography, but also in popular periodicals such as National Geographic and Popular Science.

Many bird species present here in winter are already measurably shifting their ranges north in response to warmer winters.

Changes in both climate and vegetation will also affect nesting birds, with models suggesting that several of our common breeding species in Oklahoma, including brown thrashers, Baltimore orioles and American goldfinches, may decline by 50 percent or more here in the coming decades.

In some cases, shifting their ranges farther north may be a successful coping response, but for other species, a host of complicating factors mean significant population declines are likely.

This comes on top of the many reasons why bird populations are already declining, making the need for bird conservation more acute for anyone who wishes to see our wildlife thrive for future generations.

Dan Reinking is a senior biologist at the Sutton Avian Research Center in Bartlesville and author of the Oklahoma Breeding Bird Atlas. You may ontact him at dan@suttoncenter.org or visit suttoncenter.org.

Staff Writer

Kelly Bostian writes about and photographs all things involving the environment, conservation, wildlife, and outdoors recreation. Phone: 918-581-8357