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Become an Expert on Birds and Climate Change Where You Live

In late February, National Audubon Society held a Climate Solutions Q&A Call with Vice President/Interim Chief Scientist Chad Wilsey and Senior Climate Scientist Brooke Bateman.

Like many of our members, Bateman was introduced to birding by her grandmother and grew up listening to Common Loons in Wisconsin. Wilsey grew up within a mile of Schlitz Audubon Center where his love for birds and the natural world took hold.

On the Climate Solutions Q&A Call was a group of some of our most engaged and loyal members. Focused on Audubon’s new report Survival by Degrees: 389 Bird Species on the Brink, our members were able to learn what actions Audubon is already taking to drive real climate solutions, and hear our scientists answer their questions.

The most common question asked of our scientists was essentially “What can I do?” to help birds survive in a changing climate. Here are six actions you can take to protect the birds we love and become an expert on birds and climate change in your backyard and neighborhood.

Action 1: Read through Survival by Degrees: 389 Bird Species on the Brink

Survival by Degrees is an update of our 2014 Birds and Climate Change report using data collected from eBird, Breeding Bird Surveys, and community science programs. Audubon’s new science shows that two-thirds (389 out of 604) of North American bird species are at risk of extinction from climate change. The good news is that our science also shows that if we take action now we can help improve the chances for 76 percent of species at risk.

Action 2: Explore our Birds and Climate Visualizer

Audubon’s new zip code-based tool, the Birds and Climate Visualizer, will help you understand the impacts to birds where you live, making climate change even more local, immediate, and deeply personal.

Action 3: Join Climate Watch or Another Community Science Program

Climate Watch aims to document bird species’ responses to climate change by sending volunteers in the field to look for birds where Audubon’s climate models project they should or shouldn’t be through the next decade. The program helps us understand how birds are responding to climate change in real time, on the ground, and also allows us to understand how well our models are predicting these changes.

As a Climate Watch volunteer, you become a local expert on birds and climate change. You have first-hand knowledge and data to talk about climate change to local legislators, and distill a complex global issue into a tangible way to relate it to your community, through birds.

Climate Watch is birding with a clear purpose. You can join and start looking for our Climate Watch species: bluebirds, nuthatches, goldfinches, towhees and Painted Buntings today!

Other Audubon community science programs include:

Action 4: Plant Native Plants in Your Yard

Create a climate-friendly yard for birds by growing native plants. With Audubon’s Native Plant Database, you can find the best plants for the birds in your area. Growing bird-friendly plants will attract and protect the birds you love while making your space beautiful, easy to care for, and better for the environment.

Action 5: Review our Online Climate Action Handbook

Many of our members on the Climate Solutions Q&A Call were looking for answers on how to involve their school or environmental commission or friends and neighbors in the climate movement. Our Climate Action Handbook is a fantastic resource for all things local action.

It features ways to start a conversation with someone who may not care about climate change, how to give your home a climate overhaul, lead in your community, write a letter to the editor, gather forces in your community to pressure your public utility commission, help fix the electric grid, lobby your legislators, and build a broader movement.

Action 6: Meet with your Local Officials

After you’ve read through our Climate Action Handbook, engage with your elected officials. Elected officials at every level of government must hear from their constituents that climate change is a priority. Ask them to:

  • Support energy-saving policies that reduce the overall demand for electricity.
  • Expand consumer-driven clean energy development that grows jobs in your community.
  • Reduce the amount of carbon released into the atmosphere.
  • Advocate for natural solutions, such as increasing marshlands along coasts and rivers, which absorb storm sturges and flooding while increasing habitat.  

At the end of our Climate Solutions Q&A Call, Bateman and Wilsey encouraged everyone to vote for public officials in local, state, and national elections who take responsible positions on climate and clean energy—and tell them climate and conservation are election issues for you. You can be the voice birds need.

Learn More

To learn more about Survival by Degrees: 389 Bird Species on the Brink, Climate Watch, and our Climate Action Handbook, please listen to the recording of our Climate Solutions Q&A Call below:

If you’d like additional information on any of the topics covered during our Climate Solutions Q&A Call, please feel free to reach out to Lindsay McNamara, Great Egret Society Manager, at greategretsociety@audubon.org.

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