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Study: Climate change hits migratory birds

London -- Birds that migrate over long distances are more vulnerable to climate change than those that make shorter journeys, European researchers say.

Scientists say the increasingly early arrival of spring at breeding sites in Europe makes it harder for birds arriving later from a long flight to attract a mate or find food, the BBC reported.

The researchers warn the "increasing ecological mismatch" can lead to a decline in bird populations.

Earlier this year, U.K researchers published a study that suggested spring was arriving in Britain 11 days earlier than 30 years ago.

"The birds that have not kept track with the changes have declined more in northern Europe," said researcher Nicola Saino of the University of Milan.

"The most likely problem is that there is optimum time in spring for the birds to breed; and by arriving late, the birds are probably missing the best period in which to breed," he said.

"Peaks in food abundance, such as insects, are very narrow in northern latitudes; so if you arrive too late and miss the peak, then you miss the best opportunity to raise your offspring, Saino said.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI).

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