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Climate Crisis and Canada's Birds

Birds respond to the climate crisis in different ways: they generally either adapt, move or die. With the help of members like you, we have been monitoring bird species in Canada since the 1960s. The long-term data sets acquired through programs like eBird Canada, Project NestWatch, Beached Bird Surveys, Breeding Bird Atlases, and the Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas Program are invaluable for understanding changes in species distribution patterns.

Our work tracking individual birds through the radio-telemetry system Motus or through satellite tracking can uncover changes in timing of key events in a bird’s annual cycle. In partnership with the National Audubon Society, we are specifically exploring the effects of the climate crisis on bird distributions in Canada’s National Parks. Our work also helps to understand other aspects of bird ecology that are impacted by climate, such as foraging, breeding success, or annual survival, which we study in many species. Examples of these effects can be seen in our research with seabirds and aerial insectivores.

A streaky Common Redpoll perched on a branch in front of a pink-beige background

Common Redpoll Photo: May Haga

Nature-Based Solutions

Solutions to our climate crisis often focus on reducing carbon emissions, and for good reasons. But preventing carbon that is currently stored in natural habitat from being released into the atmosphere is also vitally important. To support this, Birds Canada is working to promote “nature-based solutions” which protect habitats and benefit biodiversity, and are therefore a win-win for birds and our climate.

Terrestrial and marine ecosystems play an important role in the global carbon cycle: when adequately preserved, they act as carbon sinks and stores. Examples of our work on protecting carbon-rich bird habitat are the Boreal Conservation Project, and our work on the Fraser River Estuary and the prairie grasslands.

A Boreal Landscape in Etamomiou River, Quebec : River rapids are in the foreground with a forest of tall thin spruce trees in the distance

Photo: Gregor G. Beck

Green Budget Coalition

Birds Canada is actively involved in making fiscal recommendations to the Government of Canada that benefit the environment. We are one of the 22 leading Canadian environmental organizations that make up the Green Budget Coalition. The Coalition presents analyses of the most pressing issues regarding environmental sustainability in Canada, and makes recommendations to the federal government regarding strategic fiscal and budgetary opportunities, including investments to mitigate or adapt to the climate crisis.

What Can You Do?

Reduce, conserve, and offset your emissions. Consider taking your bike to your favourite birding patch!

Discover your local Important Bird and Biodiversity Area (IBA) and Caretaker group. Caretakers are amazing volunteers working to monitor and protect Canada’s most precious habitats for birds.

Garden for birds! Whether a balcony garden at your apartment, a city garden plot, or wide-open space in the countryside, and no matter the size, wildlife gardening creates reservoirs of abundance for birds.

Advocate for change – be a voice for birds! Make sure your municipal, provincial, and federal governments know that sweeping policy changes are needed to improve environmental regulations, resource development, and carbon emission strategies.

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