((This story is corrected to remove temperature conversions in the fifth paragraph))
FILE PHOTO: Pelicans silhouetted by a setting sun fly as they search for fish along the California coast near Leucadia, California, on November 1, 2013. REUTERS / Mike Blake
By Barbara Goldberg
NEW YORK (Reuters) – Two-thirds of bird species in North America, already disappearing at an alarming rate, are becoming extinct unless immediate action is taken to slow the rate of climate change, the Audubon National Society said. Thursday.
"We are in the midst of a bird emergency," Audubon Chief Executive David Yarnold told a news conference. "This is as much about the future we face and our children as the birds."
If greenhouse gas emissions from global warming do not decrease, 389 of the 604 species in North America will become extinct, a conservation group report said.
As the weather warms, birds are forced to relocate to a more favorable habitat and may not survive this journey, the report says.
But if the expected rise in temperatures from 3 degrees Celsius by 2080 is reduced to 1.5 degrees Celsius, nearly 40 percent of these species will no longer be considered vulnerable, the researchers said.
The most endangered are species that live in the Arctic cold zone and those that live in coastal areas.
"More than 50% of coastal birds will have to adjust their ranges," said Audubon senior scientist Brooke Bateman.
Birds threatened by Earth's predicted temperature rise include widely recognized and beloved species such as the plover, Baltimore oriole and the golden eagle, Audubon said.
While some species are predicted to die from rising temperatures, other birds thriving in warmer climates, the south will move to northern sites, a move already underway, Bateman said.
Now her father regularly sees Carolina Wrens, the state bird of South Carolina, near her home on Long Island, New York, she said.
American robins, once recognized in the northern states as a harbinger of spring when they return from their southward migration to avoid the winter cold, are in warmer places of the winter, she said.
The Audubon report sounds the alarm just weeks after a similar report on threats to the avian population drew widespread attention.
Bird populations in the United States and Canada have fallen 29 percent since 1970, with a net loss of about 2.9 billion birds, scientists said last month. Climate change, however, was not the main cause of population decline, said Ken Rosenberg, an applied conservation scientist at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the American Bird Conservancy.
Instead, he said, people are to blame, not least for widespread habitat loss and degradation, for the widespread use of agricultural chemicals that eradicate insects vital to the diet of many birds and also for outdoor hunting by pet cats. .
Barbara Goldberg report in New York; Edition by Bernadette Baum
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