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Title:What Does a Black Vulture Over Manhattan Mean for Climate Change?
Author:Camille Baker

Milder winters, shrinking habitats and new migratory patterns have changed the birds of the city.

If you need proof that climate change has altered the wildlife of the city, look no further than the black vultures soaring above Midtown Manhattan. These hulking, baldheaded scavengers have a wingspan that measures nearly five feet and have traditionally inhabited South America, Central America and the southern United States.

But the black vulture seems to be here for the foreseeable future, along with 20 or 30 species that have recently expanded their ranges into New York City. As weather patterns have warped, and habitats have shrunk and food supplies diminished, the migratory patterns of birds have also changed.

“It would have been unheard-of,” said Andrew Farnsworth, a researcher at Cornell University’s Lab of Ornithology, to spot a black vulture in Manhattan 30 or 40 years ago. Now, more than 300 sightings have been recorded in the city since March 2022, according to the Cornell-managed citizen-science project eBird. Black vultures are moving north because of milder temperatures and the ability to scavenge in suburbs near the city, Dr. Farnsworth said. He estimated that as many as 30 new species have joined the more than 200 bird species that regularly spend time in the metro area.

Some birds have been harmed by all of the changes; others seem to be adapting. But in a delicately formed ecosystem, the presence of a new species or the disappearance of one can have cascading impacts across the whole habitat.

Species like the American robin and the Canada goose are relatively new to spending the winter around New York City, said David Wiedenfeld, a conservation scientist at the American Bird Conservancy. Because snow cover is less prevalent than it once was, these species can stay farther north and feed from the ground even in winter. The populations of both of these birds are growing.

In New York Harbor, wading birds like...

Organization:New York Times - Climate Section
Date Added:3/18/2023 6:38:02 AM