New Audubon Science: Two-Thirds of North American Birds at Risk of Extinction Due to Climate Change

Enter your zip code into Audubon’s Birds and Climate Visualizer and it will show you how climate change will impact your birds and your community and includes ways you can help.

HARTFORD (October 10, 2019) – Today, the National Audubon Society announced a groundbreaking climate report, Survival by Degrees: 389 Bird Species on the Brink. “Audubon’s new report emphasizes that climate change is local, it is personal, and it will require visionary and fast-moving action to achieve a more favorable future for birds and people. If you care about birds and nature, you’ll feel deeply saddened by what you read. There is great hope, but it’s imperative that we limit global temperature increases,” said Ana Paula Tavares, executive director of Audubon Connecticut.

“We urge you to become a climate champion. Demand action at the state and federal levels. Volunteer. Vote. It isn’t too late, but it’s imperative that we limit global temperature increases.”

Audubon scientists studied 604 North American bird species using 140 million bird records, including observational data from bird lovers and field biologists across the country. The report finds that two-thirds of the birds studied are threatened with extinction from climate change, but keeping global temperatures down will help up to 76 percent of them.

Audubon’s report is based on the 2014 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report models for 1.5, 2.0 and 3.0 degrees C of global warming. At the highest warming scenario of 3.0 C, 305 bird species face three or more climate-related impacts.

In Connecticut specifically, species that are most threatened by a combination of climate change and climate-related threats under 3.0 degrees C of warming include the Brown Thrasher, Eastern Towhee, Scarlet Tanager, Wood Thrush, and Saltmarsh Sparrow. 71 species total are climate-vulnerable in summer under this scenario.

Audubon’s zip code-based tool, the Birds and Climate Visualizer, helps users understand the impacts to birds where they live, making climate change even more local, immediate and, for tens of millions of bird fans, deeply personal. 

“The lack of bird song in the 1950’s alerted us to the dangers of the pesticide DDT. Now birds are forewarning us of the impacts of climate change, from increased storm frequency and intensity to sea level rise,” said Corrie Folsom-O’Keefe, director of bird conservation for Audubon Connecticut. “The song of the Yellow Warbler, sweet, sweet, little more sweet, brings a smile to my face each spring. The thought of not hearing this song on a May morning is heartbreaking to me and also has wider implications. Heavy rains that may drown nestlings will also increase the risk of flooding across our state.”

Audubon Connecticut urges our lawmakers to:

  • Be climate and conservation champions.
  • Develop legislation and policies that support our coastal communities, which will be the first to feel the impacts of climate change. 
  • Support local job growth by supporting the development of responsibly-sited and operated renewable and clean energy (wind and solar) in our communities.

On the ground, we must:

  • Restore and manage thousands of acres of tidal marshes to help protect our communities in the face of sea level rise and more powerful storms.
  • Grow and manage millions more acres of diverse, healthy woodlands. Our northeast forests must be more resilient to the stressors of climate change so they can provide essential ecosystem services like carbon sequestration, flood control, and watershed protection. 

Enter your zip code into Audubon’s Birds and Climate Visualizer to see how climate change will impact your birds, your community, and the ways you can help.

Last month, Science published a study by a joint team of conservation biologists describing a grim picture: a steady decline of nearly three billion North American birds since 1970, primarily as a result of human activities. Climate change will further exacerbate the challenges birds are already facing from human activity.  

“It’s a bird emergency. A lot of people paid attention to last month’s report that North America has lost nearly a third of its birds. This new data pivots forward and imagines an even more frightening future. And, you can use a first-of-its kind web tool to find threatened birds in your zip code, as well as a list of things everyone can do,” said David Yarnold, president and CEO of the National Audubon Society.

“Audubon’s new report Survival by Degrees tells us it’s time to take real, meaningful, ambitious action on climate. Audubon’s science is clear – if we take action on an economy-wide scale, and we take it now, we can help improve the chances for 76% of bird species at risk. This is good news for people, too. If we protect birds and the places they need, we protect nature and the places people need too. We urge our elected leaders to commit to making sure these solutions are put into practice,” said Robert J. Klee, Ph.D., J.D., member of Audubon Connecticut's Board of Directors. 

"There is hope in the fact that if we take action now, we can help improve the chances for 76% of bird species at risk. We’ve done it before by banning DDT and seeing a rebound in the numbers of Ospreys, Bald Eagles, and Peregrine Falcons. We can do it again! And this is good news for all of us, since birds are indicators of the health of a landscape. If we protect birds and the places they need, we protect nature and the places people need too," said Dennis Riordan, president of Menunkatuk Audubon Society.

In 2014, Audubon published its first Birds and Climate Change Report. The study showed that more than half of the bird species in North America could lose at least half of their current ranges by 2080 due to rising temperatures. Audubon’s new findings reflect an expanded and more precise data set, and indicate the dire situation for birds and the places they need will continue.


About Audubon Connecticut
Audubon Connecticut, the state program of the National Audubon Society, protects birds and the places they need, today and tomorrow. Audubon Connecticut’s 27,000 members, nature centers and sanctuaries, chapters, and partners have an unparalleled wingspan. Together, we are informing, inspiring and uniting diverse communities in conservation action. Since 1905, Audubon’s vision has been a world in which people and wildlife thrive. Audubon is a nonprofit conservation organization. Learn more at

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