I study birds for a living – I’m a wildlife biologist – and I love my job, because birds are truly amazing creatures. For example, a veery is a rust-colored thrush smaller than a robin, with a beautiful song. One veery, which sang near the Presumpscot River last summer, spent the previous winter in Brazil. For the past five years, he has braved dangerous long-distance migratory flights over the open ocean to make his way back to the same nesting territory in Falmouth.

This feat of strength and navigational ability is truly astounding, but his biannual journeys are growing increasingly perilous. Climate change is causing an increase in severe storms in the Atlantic, which make over-water crossings even more dangerous for migratory birds. Warmer winters and unpredictable weather mean that the veery, as he decides when to leave Brazil in spring, is more often guessing wrongly about conditions along his migration route.

We know from studies of other songbird species that if he times his arrival in Maine poorly, he could miss out on an important insect hatch or other food source. And that mismatch between his arrival and food availability could endanger his entire breeding season, because he and his mate may not have enough food to raise chicks.

Thousands of species in ecosystems across the globe are struggling with these same changes. Young lobsters in the Gulf of Maine, where ocean waters are warming faster than almost anywhere else in the world, appear to be strongly impacted by these temperature changes. Climate change is real, and it’s the single greatest threat to most species.

It’s not too late to shield wildlife – and ourselves – from the worst of the effects of climate change. But we need to take the threat seriously, and we need to act. And we need to vote accordingly.

Kathryn Williams