Ever since childhood, Curtis Smalling has kept a journal of the birds he observes near his home in western North Carolina. “There have been a lot of changes,” he says in a recent video produced by David Salvesen of the University of North Carolina Institute for the Environment.

Bird watcher

Among them: The population of the golden-winged warbler is declining about 10 percent a year in the Appalachians.

Birds face many pressures, such as habitat loss. And Smalling – who works with Audubon North Carolina – suspects that the changing climate is also playing a role in the decline of birds like the golden-winged warbler.

“Climate change,” he says, “can just add to the pressure. For instance, if spring comes late or early or whatever, maybe that’s out of timing with when the young need insects. So the number of young produced per nest declines a little bit. And you do that generation after generation after generation, and all the sudden you’ve got a much steeper decline than you had before.”

Scientists studying the effects of climate change on birds use data collected by citizens during an annual event called the Christmas Bird Count. This year, the count takes place between December 14 and January 5.

Curtis Smalling: Bird Conservationist with Audubon NC from Climate Stories NC on Vimeo.

This video is part of “a multimedia storytelling project about the daily lives of North Carolinians experiencing climate change,” funded by the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation. Produced by David Salvesen of the University of North Carolina Institute for the Environment, it is reposted here with permission.

Filed under: , ,