How Climate Change Will Affect Birds in Illinois

Vulnerable Birds in Illinois

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 Bobolink's range be affected in Illinois?

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 Illinois 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 Illinois at risk.

Illinois's Birds and Habitats

In Prairie Ridge State Natural Area, endangered Greater Prairie-Chickens perform their iconic courtship dance in early spring, and Bobolinks sing their bubbly song in summer. More than 300 species have been recorded within the black oak forests, unique dune and swale habitat, and Lake Michigan coastline of Illinois Beach State Park. The wetlands of Chautauqua National Wildlife Refuge serve as a stopping place for shorebirds and waterfowl in spring and fall migration, as do Chicago's lakefront parks along Lake Michigan.

Climate Policy in Illinois

Electricity Generation Breakdown
6.7 % Wind
.3 % Biomass
.1 % Hydro
8.2 % Natural Gas
36.1 % Coal
Greenhouse Gas Emissions Targets
levels by 2020
BELOW 1990
levels by 2050
Renewable Portfolio Standard
BY 2025
Member of the US
Climate Alliance?

(Data: U.S. EIA)

In 2016, a clean-energy bill established wind investments in the state and created a program to provide solar to low-income communities. As of 2019, Illinois had nearly 120,000 clean energy jobs, sixth-highest of all U.S. states.

Climate Threats Facing Birds and People in Illinois

Flooding along the Illinois, Ohio, and Mississippi rivers has harmed waterfront communities and caused hundreds of millions of dollars in damage. Increasing water temperatures in Lake Michigan have reduced ice cover and degraded water quality, causing algal blooms that harm fish populations. Uncertain and rapid fluctuations of the lake level—up to six feet—put the state’s coastal areas at significant risk. In the coming decades, Illinois's agricultural yields could be among the hardest hit in the country.

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.