Jan 27, 2023 - News

Climate change is shifting bird migration patterns in Miami

A small bird with bulging eyes

A Least Flycatcher. Photo: Bernard P. Friel/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Guess what? We've got Black-legged Kittiwakes and Least Flycatchers.

  • Those are among the never-before-spotted birds identified in the Miami area during the National Audubon Society's Christmas Bird Count.

Why it matters: The 123-year-old event, which completed earlier this month, gives insight into how climate change is affecting bird species' migratory patterns.

  • "With climate change, many species are shifting their wintering ranges north," Julie Wraithmell, executive director of Audubon Florida, tells Axios.
  • In South Florida, Wraithmell said they've noticed a lot of ducks are finding they can winter a little bit farther north of the region.

How it works: From Dec. 14 to Jan. 5, volunteers across the country gather in groups to birdwatch and catalog what species they see.

Zoom in: Miami's Tropical Audubon chapter has been participating in the count for 53 years.

  • More than 40 volunteers participated in their count day last month, tallying 15,019 birds of 130 species, coordinator Brian Rapoza tells Axios.
  • Compared with 2021, there were 1,124 fewer birds counted but eight more species identified.

The intrigue: Wraithmell said neotropical songbirds, like two-toned warblers, normally migrate to Central and South America in the winter, but they've noticed a few hang around in South Florida.

  • "There's always a few individuals of each of those species that, for whatever reason, decide they're not interested in that long overwater flight and instead they decide to chill out in South Florida for the whole winter."

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