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Adapting to climate change: how leftover seeds can help birds breed

When migrating from China to Siberia, a few intermediary food stops are not a luxury. For migratory birds, they are even crucial for their survival. However, climate change is altering the seasonal availability of food at these stops. Environmental scientist Yali Si has discovered that because of this, birds are becoming increasingly dependent of farmlands. She writes about it on science platform The Conversation.

Every spring, migratory birds travel from China's Poyang Lake to Siberia, relying on seasonal food stops. When migrating, birds like geese rely on the timing of the seasons: they can only eat when they arrive in the right place at the right time. However, climate change has disrupted when and how long this seasonal food source is available.

Digging out leftover seeds

‘The loss of wetlands to farmland has expanded and forces birds to turn from natural vegetation to agricultural land,’ Si says. Together with her colleagues, she tracked waterfowl and discovered geese started relying on leftover seeds from farming. ‘This way, birds that do arrive before spring has started can still find sufficient food. Farmland seeds will become more and more important as natural habitats decline.

Geese in Poyang. Photo: Xiwen Tao

'See birds as part of the landscape’

Protecting wetlands alongside farmland is crucial for sustaining bird populations amid changing conditions. Si emphasizes: ‘Seeing birds as part of the landscape, and not as intruders on farmland, can help preserve this biodiversity on the wing.’

Read the whole article on the website of The Conversation: Migratory birds are on the move and nature-friendly farms can help them on their way

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