How Climate Change Will Affect North Carolina's Birds

Wood Thrush. Photo: Nate Rathbun/USFWS

Vulnerable Birds in North Carolina

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.

North Carolina

Flyway Atlantic Flyway
State Brief Download [PDF]
Website http://nc.audubon.org

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 Wood Thrush's range be affected in North Carolina?

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 North Carolina 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 North Carolina at risk.

North Carolina's Birds and Habitats

On North Carolina’s coast, places like the Donal C. O’Brien, Jr. Sanctuary on the Outer Banks and the undeveloped barrier island Lea-Hutaff Island provide refuge for threatened beach-nesting birds in summer. Golden-winged Warblers grace the woodlands of Roan Mountain, and Brown-headed Nuthatches and Wood Thrushes live in the forested Piedmont region. Swamp forests along the Roanoke and Chowan rivers support neotropical migrants like Cerulean and Prothonotary warblers.


Climate Policy in North Carolina

Electricity Generation Breakdown
9.6%
RENEWABLE
.4% Wind
2.2% Biomass
3% Hydro
4% Solar
33%
NUCLEAR
56.8%
FOSSIL FUEL
30% Natural Gas
26.8% Coal
.2% Petroleum
.4%
OTHER
Greenhouse Gas Emissions Targets
40%
BELOW 2005
levels by 2025
Renewable Portfolio Standard
12.5%
BY 2021
Climate Alliance?
Member of US
No
Member of the US
Climate Alliance?
No

(Data: U.S. EIA)

North Carolina has risen in recent years to become the second-ranked solar-producing state in the nation (after California). In 2019 the state had more than 110,000 clean energy jobs, growth enabled by supportive state policies. Governor Roy Cooper’s 2018 executive order aims to increase the number of zero-emission vehicles to 80,000 and reduce energy consumption in buildings. Audubon North Carolina is a significant player in the local climate movement, recently helping fend off a wind-energy ban in the state.

Climate Threats Facing Birds and People in North Carolina

Hurricanes and tropical storms have become more intense; in 2018 Hurricane Florence devastated North Carolina coastal communities and caused $24 billion in damage. More frequent and severe heat waves threaten vulnerable people, including children, the elderly, the sick, and the poor. Sea-level rise threatens communities and natural areas up and down the coast. In the coming decades, North Carolina will likely experience reduced crop yields, continued sea-level rise, and more intense storms.


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.

Birds tell us: It’s time to act. See how you can help improve the chances for three-quarters of species at risk.