Looking through lens at cardinal

Bird-watchers in Wisconsin might be noticing that they’re seeing more northern cardinals, tufted titmice, and Carolina wrens than they used to.

Zuckerberg: “They’ve been relatively rare in the upper Midwest and in the Northeast just 30 to 40 years ago, and now they’re increasingly common.”

That’s Benjamin Zuckerberg, a professor in the Department of Forest and Wildlife Ecology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. As temperatures rise, he says these species that typically stay farther south are moving into areas like Wisconsin.

And the state’s native birds are moving, too. The ruffed grouse used to be common in Wisconsin, but now, their range is shifting farther north into Canada.

The effect of these shifts is not yet known. But Zuckerberg says when even a single species is introduced or removed from an ecosystem, it can have a cascading effect.

One thing is for sure: To understand how climate change affects birds in the long run, scientists need to know which birds are where.

Zuckerberg: “Without people’s efforts on the ground collecting information on birds and their communities, we really would not have much to say.”

Zuckerberg says amateur birders can provide scientists with essential data to help them track how birds are responding to climate change.

Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy/ChavoBart Digital Media.
Image graphic: Created by David McCarthy.

Sam Harrington

Samantha Harrington

Samantha Harrington, director of audience experience for Yale Climate Connections, is a journalist and graphic designer with a background in digital media and entrepreneurship. Sam is especially interested...