How Climate Change Will Affect Birds in Virginia

Vulnerable Birds in Virginia

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 Chipping Sparrow's range be affected in Virginia?

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 Virginia 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 Virginia at risk.

Virginia's Birds and Habitats

In western Virginia, neotropical migrants like Wood Thrushes and Cerulean Warblers raise young in the forested slopes of Shenandoah National Park and the Upper Blue Ridge Mountains. Along the Delmarva Peninsula, coastal beaches, forests, and marshes of Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge play host to hundreds of bird species, including endangered Piping Plovers. One of the most important fall hawk-watch sites in the country is located at Kiptopeke State Park, also a stopover in fall for migrating flycatchers, thrushes, and warblers.

Climate Policy in Virginia

Electricity Generation Breakdown
4.2 % Biomass
1.2 % Hydro
.3 % Solar
48.5 % Natural Gas
11.7 % Coal
.5 % Petroleum
Greenhouse Gas Emissions Targets
Renewable Portfolio Standard
BY 2025
Member of the US
Climate Alliance?

(Data: U.S. EIA)

In 2018, a clean energy bill established investments of more than $1 billion over the next decade in energy efficiency, renewable energy, and smart grid-modernization programs. As of 2019, Virginia had more than 95,000 clean energy jobs, the tenth-largest number in the country.

Climate Threats Facing Birds and People in Virginia

Sea levels have risen up to 14 inches since 1950 in Virginia and could rise another six inches in the next 13 years, threatening coastal communities in Norfolk and Hampton Roads, eroding beaches and wetlands, and compounding damage from storms and flooding. Temperatures have increased 1 degree Fahrenheit in the last century, and continued warming is likely to reduce livestock productivity and increase the number of 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.