Outside World

​Climate Change Could Push Oriole from Baltimore

Habitats of North American birds are shrinking because of warmer temperatures, study says.

By Ron Cassie | September 8, 2015, 12:02 am

-Brian E. Small/VIREO
Outside World

​Climate Change Could Push Oriole from Baltimore

Habitats of North American birds are shrinking because of warmer temperatures, study says.

By Ron Cassie | September 8, 2015, 12:02 am

-Brian E. Small/VIREO

More than 300 North American bird species will lose more than half of their current geographic range in the next 65 years, according to a study published Wednesday.

In some cases, North American birds are projected to lose almost 100 percent of their suitable habit. For other species, including Maryland’s beloved Baltimore oriole, the loss of their habitat range from rising temperatures will push birds into new replacement geographic areas.

The report, “Conservation Status of North American Birds in the Face of Future Climate Change,” published in PLOS ONE, a peer-reviewed, open access scientific journal, concluded that even under the most optimistic scenario, warming temperatures will generate major shifts in species’ habitat ranges.

"The Baltimore Oriole, state bird of Maryland and mascot for Baltimore's baseball team, may no longer nest in the Mid-Atlantic, shifting north instead to follow the climatic conditions it requires," lead author Gary Langham, chief scientist of the National Audubon Society, told InsideClimate News, a web-based, 2013 Pulitzer-prize winning, nonprofit organization.

The Baltimore oriole was named for the resemblance of its colors to Lord Baltimore’s coat of arms. It breeds across much of the northeastern U.S. and Canada and migrates as far south as the Mexican border.

Other birds may have it worse, however, Langham noted.

"It wasn't as if the ranges were just shifting [for some species in the models] but rather they were just disappearing, almost the way you think about species on a mountaintop being pushed further and further up the top of a mountain.”

The Baltimore oriole's habitat range below in 2000 and as projected by 2080 by researchers is illustrated in the following graphic:


Langham and his team of National Audubon Society-affiliated researchers used 30 years of climate data and the North American Breeding Bird Survey and Audubon Christmas Bird Count—two of the most long-running and comprehensive continental datasets of vertebrates in the world—in compiling the study. They modeled and assessed geographic range shifts for 588 North American bird species during both the breeding and non-breeding seasons under a range of future emission scenarios.

“The persistence of many North American birds will depend on their ability to colonize climatically suitable areas outside of current ranges and management actions that target climate adaptation,” researchers stated. The study was funded in part by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Other iconic birds threatened in the coming decades include the bald eagle—the population of which has been successfully re-introduced in Maryland following near-extinction—and the state birds of Louisiana (brown pelican), Minnesota (common loon), Vermont (hermit thrush), Idaho and Nevada (mountain bluebird), Pennsylvania (ruffed grouse), New Hampshire (purple finch) and Washington, D.C. (Wood Thrush).

An interactive map exploring the Baltimore oriole and more birds around the country threatened by climate change can be found here.

“The prospect of such staggering loss is horrific, but we can build a bridge to the future for America’s birds,” said Audubon president and CEO David Yarnold in a press release following the study’s conclusion. “This report is a roadmap, and it’s telling us two big things: We have to preserve and protect the places birds live, and we have to work together to reduce the severity of global warming.”





Meet The Author
Ron Cassie is a senior editor for Baltimore, where he covers the environment, education, medicine, politics, and city life


You May Also Like


The Chatter

Salvation Army Booth House Shelter in Mt. Vernon to Close on July 2

Due to lack of federal funding, the temporary housing program will shutter after 80 years.

The Chatter

Under Armour’s New YouTube Series Highlights Baltimore’s Basketball Scene

The four-episode series follows the culture within the city courts.

The Chatter

Baltimore Suing Fossil Fuel Companies Over Cost of Climate Change

City accuses oil and gas industry of knowingly contributing to sea-level rise and extreme weather events.


The Chatter

Lou Catelli is Serious About Running for Mayor of Baltimore in 2020

The unofficial mayor of Hampden wants to be the official mayor of Baltimore.

The Chatter

What You Need to Know About Bird Electric Scooters

After troubleshooting in other cities, the scooter-sharing company launches in Baltimore.

Arts District

Latest Gaia Mural in Remington Focuses on Migration as a Human Right

The image features an immigrant mother and child framed by flowers from Steelcut Flower Co.

Connect With Us

Most Read


Social Media Creates More Accessibility in the Art World: Platforms like Instagram provide all patrons a front row seat to art exhibits.

New BGE and Maryland Zoo Partnership Provides Fresh Food for the Animals: The program will use tree trimmings to feed various animals at the zoo.

Scalawags Pit Meat Brings Barrel-Smoked Barbecue to Local Pop-Ups: Gnocco general manager Sam White launches a pit beef project.

Bike Share Stations Out and Dockless Bicycles and Scooters In: Struggling bike share program cancelled as City shifts to new technologies.

Center Stage Names Stephanie Ybarra as New Artistic Director: With an interest in social justice and inclusivity, Ybarra will come to Baltimore from New York's Public Theater this fall.