Sea breaking against rocks, Mull Head, North Hill RSPB reserve, Papa Westray, Orkney.

Effects of climate change on wildlife

The effects of climate change on the wildlife and wild places we know and love can already be seen.

Read our real-life accounts from around the UK.

Here are just some of the effects of climate change on our birds and wildlife:

  • Flowers such as snowdrops are blooming earlier in the spring and oaks are leafing earlier.
  • Butterflies are appearing on the wing earlier.
  • Migrating birds may have to change their migration routes or the places where they breed or spend winter.
  • Wetland birds such as redshank will find their habitats threatened by climate change - saltmarshes will become inundated by the sea while moors and wet grasslands will dry up during hot summers.
  • Food shortages are already causing young seabirds to starve to death resulting in dramatic population declines.
  • Birds found further south in Europe such as cattle egrets and hoopoes, could colonise southern England.
  • Birds may be forced to nest at different times in response to changing availability of the food they depend on to feed to their young.
  • We could lose species that currently live in our most mountainous and northerly habitats. For example, the Scottish crossbill, the UK’s only endemic species of bird, faces the risk of extinction.
  • Ground nesting birds will have their nests washed away by increased flooding.
  • Saltwater inundation from tidal surges will damage fragile freshwater habits, killing fish and affecting the birds that depend on them.

Click on the links below to read real-life accounts from around the UK on how wildlife has already been affected by climate change.