Birds breeding earlier as the seasons shift

Birds breeding earlier as the seasons shift Source: Pixabay

Reports are coming in from around the world that the breeding patterns of birds are changing as the seasons shift, mounting evidence suggesting global warming is to blame.

A paper published on Friday March 25th in the Journal of Animal Ecology says that climate change is shifting the seasons and in the process changing bird breeding patterns.

In North America spring has come earlier resulting in many species laying their eggs up to 25 days earlier than usual. Of the 72 species examined in the vicinity of Chicago a third of the birds had laid eggs nearly a month earlier than a century ago.

Evidence from elsewhere suggests that birds in the northern hemisphere are laying their eggs earlier whereas in parts of the southern hemisphere the opposite is being found. Changing weather patterns, unusual rain patterns and warmer temperatures all playing havoc with biord breeding cycles.

So far those scientists researching the issue have yet to find any clear similarities between the species that would explain the change in behaviour.

The only consistent is that most of the species are insect eaters and insect reproduction and behaviour is strongly influenced by climate according to the lead author of the report, John Bates who is Curator of the bird division at the Field Museum in Chicago.

He says: “How animal and plant life cycles are affected by climate change and seasonal disruptions is a question that’s becoming more front and centre in people’s minds.”

He adds that just a few temperature degrees off from the long-term average can have a big impact on when insects emerge, when trees sprout leaves, when flowers bloom and, according to the research, when eggs hatch.

There is a growing view amongst scientists that the changes which are becoming more evident now could be behind the steep decline in bird populations since the 1970s. Since then the United States and Canada has lost roughly a third of their birds (around three billion) according to a 2019 study in the journal Science.

Similar patterns are being found in the UK and Europe with studies carried out in the UK over the past few decades finding a decline in bird numbers and that egg-laying was happening earlier. Those studies also found that the growing season was coming earlier.

Changing patterns in the breeding of birds is a good indicator of how the seasons have shifted and continue to shift.


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Written by

Peter McLaren-Kennedy

Originally from South Africa, Peter is based on the Costa Blanca and is a web reporter for the Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at [email protected]

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