Saturday, October 2, 2021, 2 p.m.
The milder plots caused by climate change have required the migration habits of many birds, the winter birdlife of our country will soon be quoted in the northern part of the Mediterranean. More and more species are considering Hungary as a destination, while many of the country’s guests have not flown so far, or domestic nesters can stay for the winter.
This fall has started catastrophically, and since the strong cooling in mid-August, the classic October and early summer weather have alternated. All indications are that this is the result of climate change, the result of stable atmospheric standing waves, and the sequel promises to be a roller coaster ride of the cold burglaries and warmings of October – read the 24.hu side. This is what the birds want to do now, according to its order and manner, fulfill their migration “plan”, they will not be hit unexpectedly by weather extremes. However, the milder plots that have been predicted or experienced for years as a further effect of climate change are already the most definite migration patterns for some species. Moreover, it is no exaggeration to say that another 2-3 decades and the winter birdlife of our country will be radically transformed.
The portal had a conversation with ecologist Dr. Zsolt Végvári, director of the Institute of Aquatic Ecology of the Ecological Research Center, about the extent to which climate change is transforming the habits of migratory bird species “passing” in Hungary or in Hungary. Is it worth starting with why don’t birds undertake to travel hundreds or even thousands of miles a year, burning a lot of energy among thousands of dangers? Because it is worth them for the optimal use of resources. As a rule of thumb, heading north, the plots are getting longer and rougher, but in the summer, nature blossoms and there is plenty of food. Taking advantage of this to raise chicks and then when snow and frost block food sources, they head south to landscapes where insects are active and / or plant food is available. To put it very simply, each species chooses a wintering place based on its needs and the incentives it has developed over millions of years.
The bird migration affecting our country begins in the first days of July, when the first “travelers” arrive from Siberia and Northern Europe. We find many groups among them from predators to shorebirds to songbirds
– explained Zsolt Végvári.
At the beginning of August, the migration is already in full swing, with even more passers-by than nesters at home. Some stay longer, others move on sooner, there is a constant coming and going. Among the nesting birds at home, the storks are among the first to start, usually by the 20th of August they are already on the wing. Interestingly, the first specimens arrive home in the spring around March 15, so they are also called the “most Hungarian” birds, as their lives from these two important events coincide year by year with our biggest national holidays.
Why so early, when there is no sign of malnutrition? Birds ’perceptions are hard to grasp, it’s like having a map, navigator, and barometer in their brains. At the end of the summer, the air currents to the south arrive with the autumn atmospheric fronts, and they also use these to get to Africa with less effort. It’s a bit like someone would rather board an airplane departing early than take off later, but take the long journey by train and transfers.
So the storks are already on their way, and in the middle of September the migration of the cranes intensified, more precisely the arrival. They are our first example of how the mitigating plot is shaping the habits of birds: the wintering area of northern European cranes has stretched about 1,000 kilometers to the north in the last 20 years, today it is a huge mass of winter in Vojvodina and southern Hungary. But why would they go any further?
In birds, the route and final destination of migration are genetically fixed, yet it can be seen that the response to climate change is developing more rapid responses than would be expected on an evolutionary scale. The exact reason for this is not yet known, presumably so-called epigenetic processes may exist in the background, i.e. the environmental effects that allow inherited traits. That is, if a bird does not follow the usual route due to the mild weather, but stops in the Mediterranean instead of Africa and survives, its offspring can inherit this “habit”. And over time, more and more birds are publicly choosing the more comfortable route, and so they can completely change their wintering grounds.
The learning process may also be considered, especially for large, long-lived birds. One of them, for example, the breeding ground is going through the winter, in the spring it starts with a huge advantage for those who arrive later and be over their breedmates. And you can pass this behavior on to your descendants. Based on all this, the number of birds that have either stayed at home or turned from former passers-by into winter guests has increased over the last 20 years. This involves almost all species of mallards and wild geese, coastal birds, many herons and dozens of species in total.
– emphasized Zsolt Végvári.
The process will not stop, in fact, for another 20-30 years, and Hungary will be characterized by the birdlife of today’s Northern Mediterranean in winter, which will also allow representatives of certain species to rarely or even not respect them in the Carpathian Basin. Examples of the former are the sowing crows of North-Eastern Europe, which cover tens and hundreds of thousands of cities, and the latter are songbirds that inhabit the tundra, such as the spiny bunting and the mountain otter.
As a layman, however, even though winter averages are milder, extreme weather situations are intensifying, sudden and severe cold burglaries can be expected at any time. But birds are not endangered in the slightest, they are notified of various weather situations much earlier by changes in air pressure and get out: so they can reach the Mediterranean within a few hours. During their evolution, which can be measured in millions of years, birds have learned to adapt to the vicissitudes of the weather, the constant change of the earth’s climate. The really great danger is not made possible by this, but by the loss of their habitats.
Cover image: Getty Images