Mass Audubon State of the Birds 2017

Black-capped chickadee © Bill Thompson, USFWS

Birds may be ranked among the noblest forms of life. Experience has shown that, without species protection at the hands of man, many species are likely to become extinct. —Edward Howe Forbush, 1925

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The State of the Birds 2017 focuses on what the future of the breeding birds of Massachusetts may be as the climate changes. These breeding birds depend on the land, water, and people of Massachusetts for rearing their young. Many of them have persevered through challenges, and some have even thrived in close contact with humans. 

But our breeding birds have already been feeling the effects of a rapidly changing climate. Their future in Massachusetts and beyond, will, in part, be determined by the magnitude of future climate changes.

While the previous two State of the Birds reports looked to the past, the third edition is an effort to glimpse the future. Most birds have limited distributions, and, to some extent, climate controls the range of those distributions. Using bird and climate data, we determined the currently preferred climates (the "climate envelopes") of birds that nest in Massachusetts. Then, we used projections of what the future climate will be to estimate how the distribution of each bird’s climate envelope will differ by the year 2050. These maps help us to understand which species may be at risk in the future. 

Our actions today will affect the climate in the future. So, in addition to looking at the projected effects of a changing climate for Massachusetts birds, this report encourages conservation actions that can help mitigate the worst effects of climate change, as well as help us provide refuge for the species most at risk.

State of the Birds: Massachusetts Birds and Our Changing Climate

Report No. 3 | September 2017

State of the Birds 2017 cover - Black-capped chickadee © Bill Thompson, USFWS
Black-capped chickadee © Bill Thompson, USFWS

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