Why Climate Matters for Birds, on Earth Day and Every Day

Audubon is protecting birds and the places they need in a climate-altered world.

Our expertise in studying birds leaves no doubt that climate change affects the habitats they need to survive. As our Survival By Degrees report shows, two-thirds of North American bird species could face extinction if we fail to slow the rate of global temperature rise. Some “tipping point” species, like the Rufous Hummingbird and Golden-winged Warbler, are on track to suffer more acutely. Birds can’t simply move to different climates, since our planet is changing so quickly that they don’t have enough time to adapt—even in places like our National Wildlife Refuge system.  

In 2023, the United Nations released its “final” Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, which warns that the effects of climate change will continue to intensify, and swift and drastic action is needed to avoid the worst impacts on our planet. The stakes are higher than ever for birds, the places they need, and our own communities. That’s why we continue advocating for on the ground solutions and supporting pathways for aggressive reduction in carbon pollution. 

The IPCC report makes it clear that there’s still time to act, and we have all the solutions needed to sustain a livable planet for birds and people. At Audubon, we are committed to ensuring that addressing climate is a key component of all our conservation priorities. The incredible strength of the Audubon network, including our chapters and members, makes it possible for us to advance climate initiatives on the local, state, national, and hemispheric levels.  

There are two key climate factors that connect our geographies and strategies and will help maintain bird habitats and offer benefits for people too:  

Conserving and restoring key natural climate solutions areas.  

Our 2021 climate report shows that the forests, wetlands, and grasslands that provide important habitat for birds also serve as natural solutions to climate change because of their ability to store carbon. Guided by this science-based approach, Audubon staff and members advocated for the bipartisan Growing Climate Solutions Act, which will support the agriculture and forestry sectors in land conservation and natural carbon storage. We also recently issued the 100th bird-friendly habitat certification through our Conservation Ranching program, which works with ranchers to stabilize declining grassland bird populations across the U.S.  

Supporting the efficient and responsible deployment of clean energy and transmission. 

Clean energy is critical for birds and people because it will substantially reduce carbon pollution and slow the rise in global temperatures. We are working to advance strategies and projects that deliver cleaner energy while also seeking to minimize and mitigate impacts to birds and other wildlife. Audubon staff across the network are working to make sure that wind, solar, and transmission infrastructure is built responsibly. This involves engaging with other conservation organizations, energy companies, wildlife agencies, and community led partners to submit recommendations on proposed projects. Staff also support planning processes like the least-conflict solar siting in Washington state and advocate for strong enforcement of laws that protect birds and other wildlife.  

On Earth Day and every day, it’s crucial that we look for ways to meet the moment and commit to a better future for our planet. According to the new IPCC report, there’s no time to lose. Climate will be at the forefront as we keep working to deliver new climate science, pass forward-looking legislation, partner with landowners on stewardship efforts that sequester carbon and conserve bird habitat, and support environmentally responsible clean energy development. Together with our chapter network, members, and partners, we will act as a powerful voice for the birds that need our help. 

You can support birds this Earth Day by signing up to become a climate advocate, growing native plants, and turning off or dimming non-essential lights for migratory birds at night.