Red-crowned Cranes Photo: David Courtenay/Audubon Photography Awards

The Messengers

What birds tell us about threats from climate change and solutions for nature and people

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Birds are messengers that provide vital insights on how climate change threatens species, habitats and communities worldwide.

This global synthesis, an assessment of hundreds of peer-reviewed studies, shows global warming already threatens ecosystems, and risks will amplify as warming continues. Despite the dire current and future danger posed by climate change, the synthesis offers hope. Its collection of nature-based solutions, including those led by BirdLife International Partners around the world, are examples of the kind of ecosystems-based adaptation and mitigation necessary to curtail this threat—for the protection of birds and humans.

Bearded Barbet Photo: Eric Isselée/Adobe Stock

Adélie Penguin Photo: gn13/Adobe Stock

Section 1

Current Threats

Climate change is not a problem for the future. Birds are messengers, signalling the existing danger global warming poses to species and habitats worldwide.

  • So far, the majority of impacts to birds are negative. Case Studies
  • Distribution shifts and other lifecycle changes are driving bird population declines. Case Studies
  • Climate change disrupts interactions among species. Case Studies
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Common Loon Photo: Richard Pick/Audubon Photography Awards

Section 2

Projected Impacts

As warming continues, threats to humans and birds will multiply and become more intense. Although some species will be able to adapt, the majority will not.

  • Global warming means more losers than winners. Case Studies
  • Climate change will exacerbate current threats, including dangers from extreme weather. Case Studies
  • Human responses to climate impacts will cause major disruption for bird communities. Case Studies
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Mangrove nursery at the University of the West Indies, Jamaica Photo: Kadir van Lohuizen/NOOR

Section 3

Solutions for Nature & People

These risks demand action. BirdLife and its global partners are leading the nature-based solutions that help build resiliency to climate impacts and mitigate further warming.

  • Protecting carbon-rich ecosystems combats climate change and benefits people and nature. Case Studies
  • Conserving key sites is critical for adapting to a changing climate. Case Studies
  • Nature-based solutions link well-being, livelihoods, and the natural world. Case Studies
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