Climate Strongholds

Manage it and they will come! Photo: Philip Yabut

One of the biggest challenges to birds is climate change.  So not only do we need to protect places where vulnerable birds are found today; we also need to protect places where they’ll likely be driven by shifting weather patterns.  

These safe spots, called "climate strongholds," will have the right temperature, precipitation and seasonal changes to support many species of birds long into the future.  Avian scientists have used climate modeling to map where they'll be -- and it turns out that South Carolina's climate strongholds include both of Audubon's sanctuaries, Beidler Forest and Silver Bluff.

Currently, swampland and freshwater wetlands at Beidler host one of the densest populations of nesting songbirds in the eastern U.S., as well as waterbirds like the Anhinga, the White Ibis, and a variety of herons and egrets.  

On our upland properties at both Beidler and Silver Bluff, we're restoring the longleaf pine savannah, which originally covered much of the Southeast.  Birds that benefit include the Red-Cockaded Woodpecker, Northern Bobwhite, and Eastern Bluebird.

Those uplands are also an opportunity to restore South Carolina’s beautiful native grasslands.  Birds that benefit include the Eastern Meadowlark, Loggerhead Shrike, and Grasshopper Sparrow.

Protecting and restoring habitat for these species, as well as the new species we'll find in our sanctuaries as weather patterns shift, makes South Carolina birds more resilient in a warming world.  That's an increasingly critical goal given that 314 North American bird species are expected to lose at least half their range to climate change by 2080.