Hawk Migration Association of North America

Climate Change and Raptors

HMANA’s Climate Committee is charged with investigating how climate change affects raptor populations and migrations, both now and in the future. As both climate change and monitoring raptors are relatively recent, teasing out migration changes caused by climate from ordinary weather variations or other human-related factors can be challenging.

At least some changing wind patterns appear to be climate related, as fewer and weaker northwest winds in fall affect where raptors migrate. This change is already affecting some long-term migration sites, bypassing some traditional watch sites. Increased fires in the west, which are climate-related, are affecting visibility at sites there, and decreased visibility affects the counts. As the climate changes, so do the habitats where raptors and other birds live. Habitat changes such as trees growing and affecting visibility at watch sites can be ordinary growth or a sign that the habitat is changing. Many southern species of trees and plants are already “moving” more northward, bringing with them birds and insects that thrive in those landscapes.

The Climate Committee is developing a list of resources that document existing or predict future changes to climate that is or will affect bird and raptor populations. Please check back periodically, as our list is added to and updated regularly.

HPCC, the United Nations Climate Report. At 3500 pages, it’s a deep dive into global climate change. Annex 1 applies primarily to birds.
Also, the executive summaries of each of the sections provides a lot of information without an overwhelming level of detail.

Learn More

HPCC, the United Nations Climate Reports. This page provides all reports and executive summaries available from the United Nations.

Adapting to climate change requires the use of the latest climate data, information, and tools. The Forest Service has developed a variety of products to support climate-informed decision-making.

The National Park Service (NPS) has detailed the climate change consequences for birds in all of the US National Parks. Choose your favorite park, including military parks and homesteads, not just refuges or the more natural parks, to see how birds might be affected there. Each individual park documents which species are likely to be lost, stay stable or expand. 

HMANA’s Hawk Migration Studies is also a source for climate-related information and research. See Nick Bolgiano’s recent article on how West Nile Virus is impacting raptor species.

Bug populations, or the lack thereof, affect many raptor populations, either directly or from a lack of prey species. This story suggests your car windshield is an indicator of bug populations. Another Silent Spring, perhaps? This important part of the food chain was decimated.  

Ninety years of Christmas Bird Count data illustrates the effects of habitat loss and warming temperatures on winter bird distributions.

HMANA’s own HawkCount database can be an important tool for climate scientists, by tracking the effects of climate change on raptor migration timing and populations.

A paper published by the National Academy of Science in 2020 shows climate migration visuals displaying possible temperature climate shifts.

Audubon calculates that Two-thirds of North American birds are at increasing risk of extinction from global temperature rise.

The EPA partners with more than 50 data contributors from various government agencies, academic institutions, and other organizations to compile a key set of indicators related to the causes and effects of climate change. These indicators also provide important input to the National Climate Assessment and other efforts to understand and track the science and impacts of climate change.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA’s) national climatic data center provides access to current and archival environmental data.

Users can plot wind roses for at least a month via the Midwest Regional Climate Center (MRCC).

NASA has an excellent, free climate change newsletter that can be received by signing up below.


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