Montana Audubon

Montana Audubon works at the local, state and national levels to protect our natural heritage.


Birds and Climate

Montana Audubon recognizes the significant impact to birds from a rapidly changing climate. Birds act as pollinators, keep insect populations in check and are deeply connected to the larger ecological web. They act as an important ecological barometer for understanding how natural systems respond to climate change.

Audubon Climate Report

National Audubon’s 2014 Birds and Climate study examines the devastating effect global climate change is likely to have on our birds. It also helps identify the habitat strongholds across North America that they will need in order to hang on – lands we can help protect.

To learn more:

  • Visit National Audubon’s birds and climate webpage featuring interactive maps of the 314 species at risk, a technical report, and in-depth stories.
  • National Audubon’s How to Be a Climate Hero can give you some great ideas on what YOU can do – and how to learn more about climate change.

Birds Affected by Climate Change in Montana

It may look precarious to us, but nesting on cliff faces behind waterfalls is common sense to a Black Swift. The birds have no trouble weaving behind watery curtains where their nests and chicks remain out of reach for most terrestrial predators.

Over the past four decades, scientists have observed a slow but steady decline in the number of Black Swifts throughout North America (down about 6% each year). Scientists speculate that the species’ declining numbers are caused in part from climate change. For millennia, permanently snowy mountaintops have served as a vital water source, lasting late into the summer when swifts are still nesting.  However, in Montana and throughout the Rocky Mountains, the annual snowpack is shrinking as a result of warmer, drier winters.  And as water disappears from mountains, so might Black Swifts.

More accurate information is needed about the current condition of the species so Montana Audubon has developed a project to locate nests and record birds in the remote mountain landscapes where they breed.

To learn more about Black Swifts, visit our citizen science project on Nesting Black Swifts in Montana.

In much of its range, the hardy Mountain Chickadee is closely associated with montane conifer forests and backyard bird feeders, even in the dead of winter. An intriguing aspect of National Audubon’s climate model projection is the existence of suitable climate “space” in the Arctic for these birds—in winter, but not in summer—though such a range expansion is unlikely.

Audubon maps that show changing climate suitability for these chickadees are here.



More Information

Join a citizen science project One of the best ways we can track the impacts of climate change in Montana is to monitor our birds. Montana Audubon hosts several citizen science projects that allow all to participate.

National Audubon Climate Page A resource for climate news on a national/regional scale.

Boreal Songbird Initiative. Protecting our northern forests is a great way to curtail carbon emissions–and protect songbirds along the way.

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