Global environmental challenges
Migratory birds have an amazing ability to grow muscles before their flights by eating a lot but without hard training. Imagine being able to copy that — get in shape by lounging on the sofa gorging yourself for weeks and then run a marathon.
But there are signs that birds will be in trouble in future because climate change will shift their breeding grounds further north in Europe, according to a study of European warblers today. (for a story, click here) Wintering grounds in Africa or southern Europe are unlikely to move so much.
That means, for instance, that whitethroats (above right) that fly from south of the Sahara Desert to Europe and back twice a year may have to travel an extra 400 km (250 miles) towards the end of the century, on top of a one-way trip that can already be up to 6,000 km.
The birds may need new protected areas for stopovers in southern Europe where they can refuel on bugs, according to the scientists, led by Stephen Willis of Durham University in England.