Wings of Change

In concrete wilds
and wilder woods
beady eyes fix the horizon,
gazing at shadows
over bright
and distant lines.
A dance of life,
a natural rhyme โ€“
feathers cast in flight
and song
as with urgency,
nature pens its tale
of wings
and size
and loss.
Shapes transform,
pinions drift,
frames condense โ€“
shifting patterns
in chromatic array.
Shrinking reflections
over warming skies,
a feathered chorus
bearing witness
to our change.

This photograph shows birds from the Field Museum building-collision study. From left to right: golden-crowned kinglet, brown creeper, magnolia warbler, Blackburnian warbler, indigo bunting, rose-breasted grosbeak, wood thrush, American robin, brown thrasher (Image Credit: Field Museum, Daryl Coldren).

This poem is inspired by recent research, which has found that bird species body size may predict the rate of climate change.

All around the world, the physical characteristics of birds are changing quickly. Many studies show similar trends in how these changes are happening. However, the speed of these changes differs between different bird species, and we don’t yet fully understand why this is happening. One possible factor to consider is the impact of climate change, which could be causing different bird species to adapt at different rates in response to changing environmental conditions.

In this new study, researchers combined data from two previous studies that examined changes in the body size and wing length of over 86,000 bird specimens across North and South America. One study looked at migrating birds in Chicago that died after colliding with buildings, while the other focused on non-migrating birds captured in the Amazon. Despite differences in species composition, geography, and data collection methods, both studies showed consistent declines in body size and increases in wing length. The analysis also revealed that smaller birds saw a quicker decrease in body size and a faster growth in wing length. As the world gets warmer, birds with larger bodies might face a higher risk of dying out. On the other hand, birds with smaller bodies might have a better chance of surviving if their quick physical changes help them adapt better to the changing environment.

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