Red-headed Woodpecker. Photo: Gary Robinette/Audubon Photography Awards

How Climate Change Will Affect Birds in Nebraska

Vulnerable Birds in Nebraska

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 Red-headed Woodpecker's range be affected in Nebraska?

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 Nebraska 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 Nebraska at risk.

Nebraska's Birds and Habitats

Nebraska's hardwood forests, prairies, and ponderosa pine woodlands support more than 400 bird species. Along the rolling dunes of the Sand Hills, grasslands are home to the rare Greater Prairie-Chicken and lakes host wintering waterbirds. In spring, half a million Sandhill Cranes descend upon the Platte River and fill the air with loud, bugling calls. (You can view this spectacle from the Iain Nicolson Audubon Center at Rowe Sanctuary.)

Climate Policy in Nebraska

Electricity Generation Breakdown
14.4 % Wind
.3 % Biomass
4.2 % Hydro
1.8 % Natural Gas
59.8 % Coal
Greenhouse Gas Emissions Targets
Renewable Portfolio Standard
Member of the US
Climate Alliance?

(Data: U.S. EIA)

With recent historic flooding and extreme weather events, there is increasing interest and support for climate policy, but enacting it has stalled. The Great Plains is well known as a wind resource, and this has potential to provide Nebraskan’s with clean energy when appropriately sited. Additionally, Nebraska is the U.S. state with the thirteenth-greatest energy potential from solar power, yet Nebraskans get very little of their power from solar energy.

Climate Threats Facing Birds and People in Nebraska

More frequent and intense droughts in Nebraska have harmed public water supplies, electric power generation, and agriculture. Catastrophic flooding has also devastated Nebraska’s farmers and caused over $1 billion dollars in damages in 2019 alone. In the coming decades, Nebraska will likely experience more frequent and intense droughts, floods, and extreme heat days.

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.