Insects and songbirds in a changing world


(From an article written by Tanis Davey for YUKON: North of Ordinary, Winter 2020)

A childhood spent climbing into duck traps and repelling down cliffs into falcon nests seemed normal for Tara Stehelin. Her love of birds began with banding them with her father, ornithologist Dave Mossop. Thirty years later, Stehelin, a biology instructor at Yukon University, shares this passion with her students as she studies the impacts of climate change on songbirds.

Stehelin has seen dramatic changes in the Yukon's climate and wanted to learn how species in the North are impacted. During her Ph.D. studies through the University of Alberta at what was then Yukon College, she studied two migratory songbirds: the olive-sided flycatcher and the western wood-pewee. These insect­ eating birds are known for their widespread declines, and Stehelin wanted to understand if a changing climate was affecting their food source and if that was, in turn, decreasing their nesting success. (View full article)