Our Report, Your Reactions

From Stephen Colbert to a Popular Mechanics Breakthrough Award, here's what people think of Audubon’s Climate Change Report.

Earlier this month, the release of the Audubon Society’s Birds and Climate Change Report delivered quite a punch—314 North American bird species are threatened by climate change. That means that as the climate continues to intensify, birds could be evicted from their habitats. In fact, ten states could lose their state birds by 2080.

Many news organizations used the data from the report to craft their own visualizations. And the conversation around the report is just as important as the data itself.

NPR got the discussion started with Audubon president and CEO David Yarnold. "Morning Edition" host David Greene spent a few minutes talking with Yarnold about the enormity of the report and why the science should be interpreted as conservative, not alarmist.

The report was also featured on "Wake Up With Al" on the Weather Channel. Yarnold and Audubon’s deputy director of climate and strategic initiatives Lynsy Smithson-Stanley spoke with Al Roker and Stephanie Abrams about one of the big questions that has emerged from the report: Will birds have the resources to adapt to climate change? Audubon scientists don’t have an answer yet, but so far, the forecast isn’t looking too sunny. 

"The Colbert Report" seconded that gloomy forecast by predicting heavy showers of “sparrow McNuggets.” Stephen Colbert put his usual sardonic spin on the study, by lamenting the hours he lost memorizing state-bird trivia and suggesting that the national bird be changed from the climate-threatened Bald Eagle to a Frigidaire air conditioner. Colbert’s comedic diatribe was a perfect counterweight for the otherwise somber study. 

Meanwhile, Gary Langham, the chief scientist behind the report, spoke about the impending retreat of the loons on the CBS Evening News. His prediction about their range shift complemented a story on a loon catch-and-release program in Minnesota: A group of biologists from the Biodiversity Research Institute are trapping juvenile birds and taking them to old nesting sites to prevent them from being pushed further north. 

Famed journalist Bill Moyers cited the Audubon climate report during an interview with climate activist Kelsey Juliana. “Frankly it’s hard to fathom my grandchildren’s world with nature’s winged choir silenced. How long will we allow the climate deniers to give our political leaders cover to run and hide from reality?” he says. 

In addition to the news coverage, in the days following the release of the report, there was an outpouring of support from the public. Many took to Twitter to share Michelle Nijhuis’ article, while others linked to the interactive visuals from the New York Times' piece. A brave few even cracked jokes (we’re looking at you Kate Flannery) to offset the gravity of the situation and raise awareness.

Update on 10/07:

On October 7, the report was honored with a Breakthrough Award from Popular Mechanics. This is the tenth year of the magazine's Breakthrough Awards, which honored 9 other recepients, including the first 3-D printed carFacebook, and the Two Bit Circus, for their immediate impact on culture. Audubon's report is the largest study ever done on how climate change may affect birds. 

“For ten years, the Breakthrough Awards have unearthed and honored some of the most important innovations in America,” said Ryan D’Agostino, editor-in-chief of Popular Mechanics. “This year, for the first time, we focus entirely on achievements that are having an immediate impact on our culture—the people, things, and ideas that are making a real difference right now.”

Birds at Risk

Explore more birds threatened by climate change around the country.

Allen's Hummingbird
Baird's Sparrow
Bald Eagle
Brown Pelican
Burrowing Owl
Cerulean Warbler
Common Loon
Eastern Whip-poor-will
Golden Eagle
Greater Sage-Grouse
Hooded Oriole
Mississippi Kite
Northern Shoveler
Piping Plover
Ruffed Grouse
Rufous Hummingbird
Spotted Owl
Tundra Swan
White-throated Sparrow
Yellow-billed Magpie

You Can Help

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