The answer to the question of how migratory birds in South America will adapt to future climate change remains uncertain, in part because migratory songbirds that breed in the southern hemisphere are not as well studied as their northern-hemisphere counterparts. It is becoming apparent that the way species are responding to rapid environmental change is highly variable and can be dependent on a suite of extrinsic and intrinsic factors. What we can expect to happen with intra-tropical migrants and austral migrants—which breed and migrate in the southern hemisphere—is still poorly understood. The relatively few existing studies on bird migration in the southern hemisphere have been hampered by the logistical difficulty associated with large-scale tracking of organisms; however, emerging technologies and methods are making detailed research on less well-known migration systems more feasible.
We evaluated the potential impact of climate change in the breeding and wintering areas of three migratory Turdus thrushes in South America: Andean Slaty Thrush (Turdus nigriceps), Eastern Slaty Thrush (Turdus subalaris), and Yellow-legged Thrush (Turdus flavipes). The Turdidae bird family we studied is widely known to be a generalist and cosmopolitan. We associated occurrence data collected by community scientists and museums with data from climate models to generate models for future breeding and wintering areas, and obtained interesting answers.