[Tweeters] Extreme Heat Threatens Desert Songbirds With Death By Dehydration

Jeff Kozma jcr_5105 at charter.net
Wed Mar 1 08:19:43 PST 2017

Very interesting article, thanks for posting it. I conducted research on nest survival of desert breeding birds in the mid to late 90’s with another graduate student for 5 years. We are getting ready to submit a paper for publication on nest survival of Black-throated Sparrows where we investigated the effects of habitat features and temporal factors (date, year, etc.,) on nest survival. We found that as temperatures warm throughout the breeding period, nest survival declines. We attributed this to increased activity of predators, especially snakes, with warmer temperatures because over 80% of documented nest failures were due to predation. If desert breeding birds are forced to nest later in the season due to drought from warming temperatures with climate change, productivity will decline along with population levels. So, even species that are abundant and widespread in the desert southwest, like the Black-throated Sparrow, may experience population declines with global warming.

Although not included in this paper, we found that during longer periods of extreme heat, nestlings are also susceptible to dehydration and death. For example, we found nestling Scott’s Orioles that were shriveled up like dehydrated little husks during a prolonged period of 100+ degree days during one of our study years. Apparently the moisture in the insects fed to them by their parents was not enough to offset water loss through respiration.

Jeff Kozma


From: tweeters-bounces at mailman1.u.washington.edu [mailto:tweeters-bounces at mailman1.u.washington.edu] On Behalf Of Devorah the Ornithologist
Sent: Wednesday, March 1, 2017 1:38 AM
To: tweeters message <tweeters at u.washington.edu>
Subject: [Tweeters] Extreme Heat Threatens Desert Songbirds With Death By Dehydration

hello everyone,

i just published a story about how climate change ("global warming") is affecting desert-dwelling birds, and thought you might wish to read it:

Extreme Heat Threatens Desert Songbirds With Death By Dehydration


to say the least, the research is rather concerning.


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