California Quail. Photo: Carl Reese/Audubon Photography Awards

How Climate Change Will Affect Birds in California

Vulnerable Birds in California

Highly and moderately vulnerable birds may lose more than half of their current range—the geographic area where they live—as they are forced to search for suitable habitat and climate conditions elsewhere.


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Below, find out which of the birds that nest or spend the winter in your area are most vulnerable across their entire range. Some birds may lose range outside of your state, making the protection of their current habitat in your area even more important.

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How will the California Quail's range be affected in California?

Rising temperatures and shifting weather patterns affect birds' ability to find food and reproduce, which over time impacts local populations, and ultimately continent-wide populations, too. Some species may even go extinct in your state if they cannot find the conditions they need to survive and raise their young.

Select a warming scenario to see how this species’ range will change under increased global temperatures.

Reducing warming makes many types of birds found in California less vulnerable.

In order to hold warming steady, we must act now to reduce the amount of carbon released into the atmosphere and limit warming to 1.5 degrees. We must reduce our carbon emissions and also absorb what is produced through natural solutions like reforestation or with technology that removes carbon from the air.

Click the three different warming scenarios to explore how increased warming puts more species in California at risk.

California's Birds and Habitats

Wetlands in Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuge attract migratory waterfowl and songbirds. In Yosemite National Park, Acorn Woodpeckers and Black Swifts take shelter in the coniferous forests, while Mountain Bluebirds and California Gulls breed at Mono Lake. The oak woodlands in the foothills of the Central Valley and Central Coast Range are home to state gems, such as the Yellow-billed Magpie, while coastal estuaries support millions of migratory waterbirds. The Mojave Desert provides critical habitat for resident and migratory birds including the Cactus Wren.

Audubon California is actively engaged in protecting birds and their critical habitat through its conservation programs and Audubon’s Conservation Ranching program.

Climate Policy in California

Electricity Generation Breakdown
6.2 % Wind
2.8 % Biomass
20.6 % Hydro
11.8 % Solar
43 % Natural Gas
.1 % Coal
Greenhouse Gas Emissions Targets
BELOW 1990
levels by 2030
BELOW 1990
levels by 2050
Renewable Portfolio Standard
BY 2030
Member of the US
Climate Alliance?

(Data: U.S. EIA)

The Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 created a statewide greenhouse-gas emissions target, and its renewals in 2016 and 2017 extended and strengthened its goals. The state’s cap-and-trade program has led to a steady decline in carbon emissions while the program’s revenues have funded climate mitigation and adaptation projects nationwide. Guided by its climate action plan, California aims to reach 100-percent carbon-free electrical generation and statewide carbon neutrality by 2045.

California supports sustainable growth and is working with Audubon California to adopt a Natural and Working Lands Implementation Plan. The state’s focus on natural and working lands—farms, forests, wetlands, and ranches—as indispensable is another way it’s leading the country on climate solutions.

Climate Threats Facing Birds and People in California

Increased severity and frequency of drought in California threatens water supplies and agriculture, while rising temperatures have decreased snowpack levels and increased heat waves. Large-scale wildfires have caused tens of billions of dollars in damages. Sea levels could rise one to four feet in the next century, submerging wetlands and harming coastal communities.

The same climate change-driven threats that put birds at risk harm people, too. Hover over or tap an area on the map to see specific threats that will affect that area as warming increases.