A new report from scientists show birds are getting smaller. The cause? Rising temperatures from climate change. The study examined birds over a 40 year period.

Birds‘ wings are getting longer, legs are getting shorter and their bodies are shrinking. Over 70,000 birds were measured from 52 different species, between 1978 and 2016. The study started by collecting dead birds that had crashed into Chicago buildings.

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Animal body sizes are tied to their home climate. Animals in colder climates are usually larger than warmer areas. Cold area animals need more mass to stay warm. Now with rising temperatures, the extra mass isn’t needed. Scientists believe the increased wing span is to aid birds in long migrations, even with smaller bodies. Scientist David Willard, who collected the birds, said of the change in size, “As the breeding grounds of these birds are getting warmer, it may be advantageous to be smaller.”

The study’s lead author, Brian Weeks, an assistant professor at the University of Michigan School for Environment and Sustainability, said in a press release about the study, “We had good reason to expect that increasing temperatures would lead to reductions in body size, based on previous studies. The thing that was shocking was how consistent it was. I was incredibly surprised that all of these species are responding in such similar ways.”

Birds have been harbingers of climate change, as shown in recent studies. Read about birds and climate change in the Audubon Society’s recent climate report, and why over a billion birds have died.

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The United Nation recently released a report warning countries about the dangers of climate change. They also urged people to reduce their dairy and meat intake by opting for more plant-based foods as one way to take climate action. We highly recommend downloading the Food Monster App — with over 15,000 delicious recipes it is the largest meatless, plant-based, vegan and allergy-friendly recipe resource to help reduce your environmental footprint, save animals and get healthy! And, while you are at it, we encourage you to also learn about the environmental and health benefits of a plant-based diet.

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