Monday, April 26, 2010

Climate Change: Arctic Migratory Birds Face New Challenges

As Arctic temperatures warm and weather becomes less predictable, migratory birds may face new challenges and some nasty surprises when they return north, researchers with the Canadian Wildlife Service say.

Sometimes birds arrive at their northern breeding grounds earlier than they used to, driven by warm weather in the South, only to find no food there when they arrive. Their entire breeding cycle could be turned upside down, because the breeding schedules of these birds may be out of whack with nature and as a result they may lack food for their young. Also the increased numbers of mosquitoes, contributed to higher numbers of deaths at some seabird colonies, say biologists with the Canadian Wildlife Service.

Since the 1970s CWS biologists have seen severe weather produce many lethal situations for seabirds. Generally most seabirds are long-lived. Eiders live at least 10 years, murres about 30 years, and fulmars up to 50 years, so “you don’t see them die very often,” said Mark Mallory, a seabird biologist with the CWS in Iqaluit.


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