Warmer springs create a mismatch where hungry chicks hatch too late to feast on abundant caterpillars, new research shows

With continued spring warming expected due to climate change, scientists say hatching of forest birds will be increasingly mismatched with peaks in caterpillar numbers.

The researchers, from the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and the universities of Sheffield, Exeter, and Edinburgh, used data collected across the UK – largely by citizen scientists – to study spring emergence of oak tree leaves and caterpillars, and timing of nesting by three bird species: blue tits, great tits and pied flycatchers.

Blue tit feeding young

Dr Karl Evans, from the University of Sheffield’s Department of Animal and Plant Sciences, said: “Our work suggests that as springs warm in the future, less food is likely to be available for the chicks of insectivorous (insect eating) woodland birds, unless evolution changes their timing of breeding.”

read the full story and access the research paper here


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