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Birds and Bees Take Beating in Climate Change

Daffodils bloom in view of the Space Needle in Seattle, Washington state, as sunshine and high temperatures arrive early, March 4, 2015.
Early Spring Bad for Birds
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If you like warm weather early in the year, you may be in luck, say researchers at a university in Wisconsin.

But birds and farmers might not be so happy.

Scientists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison published a study in the journal Environmental Research Letters that says the spring growing season in the United States will arrive about three weeks earlier than normal over the next 100 years.

And rising global temperatures are to blame.

While people in the North who are used to cold and snow into April might be celebrating the news, crops and the animals that depend on them could suffer.

Winter will be shorter, according to one of the study’s authors. But birds, who time their migration based on the length of days as winter turns to spring, could be confused.

“They may arrive in their breeding ground to find that the plant resources that they require are already gone,” said Andrew Allstadt, one of the study’s authors.

It will be easier to notice the arrival of an early spring in certain parts of the U.S. – like the Pacific Northwest and the mountainous West. And “false springs,” when freezing temperatures return after the growing season has begun, will decrease, too.

But some regions, like the western Great Plains could see an increase in false springs.

"This is important as false springs can damage plant production cycles in natural and agricultural systems," Mr. Allstadt said. "In some cases, an entire crop can be lost."

I'm Christopher Jones-Cruise.

This story was published on Dan Friedell adapted this story for Learning English. Kathleen Struck was the editor.


Words in This Story

celebrate – v. to do something special or enjoyable for an important event, occasion, holiday, etc.

mountainous – adj. having many mountains

breeding – n. the process by which young animals, birds, etc., are produced by their parents — often used before another noun

breeding ground – n. a place where animals go to breed

confused – adj. unable to understand or think clearly

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