Global warming threatens brown pelicans _lowres

Advocate staff photo by JOHN McCUSKER -- A juvenile brown pelican stretches his beak among a group of nestlings and adults in this May 2013 Advocate file photo.

Climate change threatens nearly half the bird species in the continental United States and Canada, including Louisiana’s state bird, the brown pelican, as well as the bald eagle and dozens of other iconic birds, according to a new study published today by National Audubon Society (

The study identifies 126 species that will lose more than 50 percent of their current ranges -- in some cases up to 100 percent -- by 2050. The study says these birds won’t be able to move elsewhere if global warming continues on its current trajectory. An additional 188 species face more than 50 percent range loss by 2080 but may be able to make up some of this loss if they are able to colonize new areas. Many of the bird species were not considered at-risk before. The report indicates that numerous bird species are likely to be extinct if global temperature increases are not stopped.

“It’s a punch in the gut. The greatest threat our birds face today is global warming,” said Audubon Chief Scientist Gary Langham, who led the investigation. “That’s our unequivocal conclusion after seven years of painstakingly careful and thorough research. Global warming threatens the basic fabric of life on which birds -- and the rest of us -- depend, and we have to act quickly and decisively if we are going to avoid catastrophe for them and for us.”