Risky strategy helps migratory birds offset climate change

by Pat Leonard, Cornell University
April 12, 2023

Deteriorating habitat conditions caused by climate change are wreaking havoc with the timing of bird migration. A new study demonstrates that birds can partially compensate for these changes by delaying the start of spring migration and completing the journey faster – but the strategy comes with a decline in overall survival.

“We found that our study species, the American redstart, can migrate up to 43% faster to reach its breeding grounds after delaying departure from wintering grounds in Jamaica by as much as 10 days,” said Bryant Dossman, Ph.D. ’21, lead author of “Migratory Birds With Delayed Spring Departure Migrate Faster But Pay the Costs,” published in the journal Ecology.

“But increased migration speed also led to a drop of more than 6% in their overall survival rate,” said Dossman, who led the study while at Cornell and is currently a postdoctoral fellow at Georgetown University.

Keep reading: https://news.cornell.edu/stories/2023/04/risky-strategy-helps-migratory-birds-offset-climate-change

Read the Ecology paper: https://esajournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ecy.3938