Dirk Lammers, The Associated Press
Sun, 11 May 2014 14:29:00 CST
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - The Baird's sparrow, a small songbird that spends its summers in a mostly Canadian swath that dips into grassland prairies in North Dakota, Montana and far northern South Dakota, could be opting for sole Canadian residency in the coming decades.
Climate change and a continuing conversion of grassland into corn and soybean fields will likely push the species' breeding grounds further north of the border by 2025, according to research from the U.S. Geological Survey's Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center in South Dakota.
Though the research submitted for journal review looked at 50 bird species, the displacement of the Baird's sparrow stands out. That could affect tourism in North Dakota, which draws in avid bird watchers looking to check the Baird's sparrow off their must-see lists.
The bird prefers short grassland, but its summer breeding spots can change with variations in precipitation, said Terry Sohl, a research physical scientist at the centre who is leading the effort.
"They're a little bit nomadic ... and it tends to be tied to moisture. They don't like it too dry, they don't like it too moist," Sohl said.