Baby birds in winter sound climate change warning

Spring has arrived in January this year, providing another warning sign that the UK's climate is changing, according to the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB).

A young family of song thrushes has been spotted in the middle of winter in Brighton, Sussex, earlier this week.

With his type of bird incubating their eggs for two weeks and the young then taking a further two weeks to fledge from the nest, RSPB spokesman Adrian Thomas said the mother must have laid her eggs in mid December.

“While one song thrush chick does not make a spring, this is exceptionally early and extremely unusual,” he told edie.

Along with heavy snow, ground frost is the worst enemy of baby chicks, especially when it lasts all day long. Like other parts of southern England, Brighton is still waiting for its first frost of the winter.

Mr Thomas said that the mild weather over the winter would explain why the birds had been prompted to breed early – possibly another sign of climate change.

“There is no way we can say for certain from one set of chicks,” he commented. “But birds are one of the sensitive natural barometers for the state of our climate, and various indicators show that spring is about two weeks earlier than it was 30 years ago.”

This change would be in line with reports from top world scientists last year that the world’s climate will continue to get hotter if more is not done to stop global warming (see related story).

“The RSPB sees climate change as one of the biggest challenges facing wildlife across the globe,” Mr Thomas concluded. “It has been estimated that up to one third of plant and animal species on land could be on the road to extinction within 50 years because of global warming.”

By Jane Kettle

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