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Many Birds Nest and Lay Earlier in Chicago – NBC Chicago

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Many species of birds are nesting and laying their eggs nearly a month earlier than 100 years ago in the Chicago area and researchers believe climate change is behind it all.

These are the results of a new study published in the Journal of Animal Ecology. The researchers compared recent sightings with century-old eggs held in museum collections.

“We learned that birds in the Chicago area, at least some species, are nesting up to 25 days earlier now than they were in the early 1900s and late 1800s,” said John Bates, curator of birds at Chicago’s Field Museum and the study’s lead author. “This study was designed to determine whether or not bird species in northeastern Illinois change their egg-laying dates over time.”

The museum has 50,000 to 60,000 eggs in its collection dating from the 1870s to the 1920s. The collection includes information about eggs. The Field’s collection, like most, falls after the 1920s, when egg collecting fell out of fashion for hobbyists and scientists alike.

The results were consistent with other things happening in the environment due to climate change, Bates said.

“Insect numbers have also been shown to decline, although again it’s hard to get good data on what each insect species is doing,” he said. “And the insects, in turn, react to the leaves of the plants, and so that’s also something that moves forward in time.

As well as serving as a warning about climate change, the study highlights the importance of museum egg collections, which are often underutilized.

“There are 5 million eggs in collections around the world, and yet there are very few publications using museum egg collections,” Bates said. “They are a treasure trove of data about the past, and they can help us answer important questions about our world today.”

NBC Chicago

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