Sagebrush Sparrow. Photo: All Canada Photos/Alamy

How Climate Change Will Affect Birds in Utah

Vulnerable Birds in Utah

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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State Brief Download [PDF]

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 Sagebrush Sparrow's range be affected in Utah?

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 Utah 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 Utah at risk.

Utah's Birds and Habitats

Utah boasts stunning national parks, from Zion and Arches to Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, and Capitol Reef. Beyond these parks lie arid deserts, the Rockies’ coniferous forests, and riparian areas; all are important bird habitats. Great Salt Lake and its wetlands are breeding and stopover points for millions of birds. Along the southeastern shoreline, Audubon’s Gillmor Sanctuary encompasses saline wetlands critical for shorebirds. In sagebrush steppe, around 90 bird species including Greater Sage-Grouse and Sage Thrasher find dwindling habitat.

Audubon Rockies is working to build saline wetland climate resiliency through its management and restoration of shorebird habitat at Gillmor Sanctuary.

Audubon’s Saline Lakes Program is working with a range of stakeholders to modernize Utah water policy to benefit both the environment and agricultural interests.

Climate Policy in Utah

Electricity Generation Breakdown
2.3 % Wind
.2 % Biomass
3.5 % Hydro
5.9 % Solar
15.7 % Natural Gas
70.5 % Coal
Greenhouse Gas Emissions Targets
Renewable Portfolio Standard
BY 2025
Member of the US
Climate Alliance?

(Data: U.S. EIA)

In 2017, Utah added more solar jobs than any state and ranked fourth for largest portion of electricity generated from solar. Comprehensive clean-energy legislation that minimizes development on sagebrush steppe and shortgrass prairie may help the state to further decarbonize.

Climate Threats Facing Birds and People in Utah

Increased temperatures in Utah have decreased snowpack levels, shortening the winter tourism season and lowering water levels in Great Basin wetlands and alpine ecosystems. Increasing demand for water, increasing temperatures, and decreasing precipitation have contributed to aridification of western rivers, lakes, and wetlands. In the coming decades, Utah will likely experience decreased water availability, reduced agricultural yields, and greater fire risk.

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.