Pleasant spring for us = bad news for breeding birds

The same weather system that kept the eastern U.S. comfortable during the early summer months may be disastrous for dozens of species of birds that breed in Canada.

Bryan Watts said the Canadian jet stream stayed south longer this year, moderating temperatures in Virginia, but keeping snow and ice on the ground in the eastern breeding grounds of whimbrels west of James Bay and Hudson Bay.

He said the area around the Alaska-Canada North Slope, the western breeding grounds for whimbrels, had a normal ice-out this year. But the eastern birds could be in trouble, and not just whimbrels.

"A good example is snow geese. It appears like they may have had a bust of a season, but there are dozens and dozens of species that breed up there." Watts said. "It could be impacting red knots, black-bellied plovers, all of the small birds, semipalmated sandpipers. It's not restricted to birds, of course, mammals are also presumably impacted."