Beyond The Forecast: Spring climate change may threaten Virginia’s state bird

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Happy Monday! Despite cold weather over the weekend, spring in southwest and central Virginia is likely to end up above average from a temperature standpoint. This continues a trend that Climate Central has detected in recent years. According to data since 1970, the climate from March through May (meteorological spring) has warmed two to three degrees in our area.

The warmer weather during springtime may eventually threaten an animal that many of us see in our backyard every day: the northern cardinal. Virginia shares its state bird with six other states: Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, North Carolina, Ohio and West Virginia.

Climate Central worked with researchers at the National Audubon Society to identify the threats that birds will face under a significant climate warming scenario.

The northern cardinal would face three climate threats in this scenario: fire weather, extreme springtime heat and urbanization. According to the study, the species would be vulnerable to extinction by the end of the century.

Other birds in our corner of Virginia may also be threatened in a warming climate. You can enter your zip code into Audubon’s Birds & Climate Visualizer to see which birds in your area will be at risk during climate change.

Switching gears to the forecast, it will be a windy and cool start to the new week following the passage of a cold front this morning. A freeze warning will be in effect Tuesday morning for parts of our area. However, warmer weather is expected later this week after a warm front lifts north through our area late Wednesday. You can read Chris Michaels’ write-up about this week’s outlook here.

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