Survival by Degrees
by Kristal Stoner, Executive Director, Audobon Nebraska
Last October, the National Audubon Society announced a groundbreaking climate report, Survival by Degrees: 389 Bird Species on the Brink, that reported two-thirds of America’s birds are threatened
with extinction from climate change. Audubon scientists studied over 600 North American bird species using 140 million bird records, including observational data from bird lovers and field biologists across the
country. The analysis covered climate-related impacts including sea-level rise, Great Lakes level changes,
urbanization, cropland expansion, drought, extreme spring heat,fire weather, and heavy rain.
In Nebraska, 85 bird species including the Piping Plover, Long- billed Curlew, Red-headed Woodpecker, Henslow’s Sparrow, and Lark Bunting are climate vulnerable in summer, meaning they stand to lose more of their summer range across North America than they gain under a warming climate.
Within this report, Audubon’s online Birds and Climate Visualizer helps everyone explore the data analysis by bird species and allows individuals to understand the impacts to birds where they live by zip code. It makes climate change even more local, immediate, and, for bird fans, deeply personal.
While the news about the devastating impacts of climate change seem to keep piling up, this report is actually about hope and action. Birds have always served as a warning to the changes in the environment, and this report tells us that if we act now to keep global temperatures down, we will help up to 76 percent
of those threatened birds. In Nebraska, this could reduce the number of vulnerable species from 85 to 51.
Audubon has outlined five key steps that range from actions every individual can take in their home to policy changes. Losing a species forever is tragic, so now is the time for action. That is the power of this report along with localized tools. It’s not just about the problems, it’s about what we all need to do to be a
part of the solution.
Join Kristal Stoner, executive director of Audubon Nebraska, to learn about this impact on Thursday, January 9, at 7:00 p.m. at Lincoln’s Unitarian Church, 6300 A Street. Free parking is readily available in the church lot with overflow parking in the Pius X High School lot across the street to the west. There is easy
access to the church with no steps and plenty of space for visiting with speakers and mingling with friends while enjoying refreshments following this free public program.
by John Carlini, Field Trip Chair
Search for Seven Swans A-swimming
Trumpeter Swans are making a comeback! North America's largest waterfowl formerly occurred from coast to coast but because of drainage to wetlands, along with hunting and
collection of their feathers, this iconic species was extirpated from much of its range. The last wild nesting pair in Iowa was seen in 1893, but by 1993, exactly 100 years later, humans had evolved, and efforts were being made to mitigate our misdeeds
with projects such as a re-introduction program by Iowa's Department of Natural Resources.
Thanks to the success of human intervention in various states, Trumpeter Swans are
finally becoming less of a rarity and are starting to grace more of our landscapes
each winter. The annual swan count tally in Iowa increased from 193 in 2010 to 1,823 in
2016, and Dr. Paul Johnsgard recently reported a continuing increase of wintering swans at the Loess Bluffs National Wildlife Refuge (formerly Squaw Creek NWR) in northwest Missouri, where our swan search will take place. This outing will consist of stops along the refuge road and will require little to no walking. Other winter residents at the refuge are Bald Eagles and possibly Tundra Swans.
We'll meet at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, January 18, in the Wachiska office parking lot located at 4547 Calvert Street. Participants can caravan or carpool for the 110-mile drive to our destination. We plan to arrive at the main parking lot for the refuge headquarters building a little before 11:30 a.m. for anyone preferring to meet up with the group there on Highway 159 west of 1-29 exit 79. Unless the roads are icy or impassable, winter weather will not deter us. Bring binoculars and scope if you have them. There is no fee required, and the public is welcome. If you have questions, call John at 402-475-7275.