Birds nesting in agricultural lands more vulnerable to extreme heat, study finds

Published: 25 October 2023

As climate change intensifies extreme heat, farms are becoming less hospitable to nesting birds, a new study found. That could be another barrier to maintaining rapidly eroding biodiversity that also provides benefits to humans, including farmers who get free pest control when birds eat agricultural pests.

Researchers who examined data on over 150,000 nesting attempts found that birds in agricultural lands were 46% less likely to successfully raise at least one chick when it got really hot than birds in other areas.

David Bird, a professor emeritus of wildlife biology at McGill University's Department of Natural Resource Sciences, said the study contributes to the understanding of the negative effects of intensive single crop farming. Bird, who was not affiliated with this study, said it “sings the praises of the need for preserving our forests,” which not only protect birds from hot weather but also help protect ecosystems from global warming by absorbing carbon.

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