Study: Climate change disturbs breeding and nesting season in birds

This article discusses how climate change is affecting bird breeding and nesting. Earlier warming throws everything off; birds are starting to migrate earlier, but when they arrive at their historical nesting grounds, their food may not be there yet.

  • Shifting seasons and unseasonal monsoon conditions have been affecting cues for the Sarus crane’s nesting season, a trend seen among other birds too.
  • Climate change is impacting birds like the Sarus crane but is still only one of the many drivers. Several species are being affected by a range of reasons such as pollution, habitat degradation, deforestation and most importantly, land use change.
  • Though in nascent stages, observations of the impact of climate change on birds is driving more research in India.

The arrival of monsoon rains in India is an annual milestone for the country. The blustery winds, loaded skies and torrential rains are signs of a good year not just for farmers and economists but also for the tallest of the world’s flying birds – the Sarus crane (Antigone antigone).

For these majestic birds, the onset of the rainy season in South Asia is a sign for the beginning of their seasonal nesting. However, shifting seasons and unseasonal monsoon conditions have been affecting these cues for nesting. A recent multi-year study across four Indian states showed that altered cropping and rainfall patterns are responsible for unseasonal nesting in Sarus cranes, a globally vulnerable species. Nesting of this species, outside the scheduled monsoon time, may also increase in response to intensifying changes.

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