Half of birds recently rescued from heat go on to die

Baby bird rescued from the heat.
Baby bird rescued from the heat.(Patsy Montesinos)
Published: Jul. 24, 2022 at 6:52 PM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - The Southwest Virginia Wildlife Center of Roanoke warns neighbors with bird boxes to be on alert in this hot weather to make sure the birds are not overheating.

Operations Manager Haley Olsen-Hodges says the center had its busiest day Thursday.

“We had a day where in which we were admitting bird after bird after bird that were hanging out of the bird boxes,” said Hodges.

The center rescued around 30 birds last week and half of them died less than an hour after admission.

“But they were falling out. They were coming in in really poor condition. They were really dehydrated, they had heat stroke problems,” added Hodges.

Hodges said this is due to unvented bird boxes.

“The ideal bird box is a wooden one,” explained Hodges. “The ones that are made out of recycled materials like plastic and stuff like that, the problem we see with those is that when we have warm weather like this they tend to overheat a lot faster.”

They recommend drilling four holes in the bottom of the bird box and placing it in a shaded area.

“And birds are very sensitive to ranges in temperatures; even being a couple degrees higher in that nest box is enough to have the eggs not hatch and to kill the baby birds and even the adults that are inside trying to incubate those babies and those eggs,” said Hodges.

Hodges says over time, the number of birds they rescue has increased due to rising temperatures.

“But I will say over time, as someone who’s been doing rehab for a while, because we’re seeing changes in climate and the environment, we’re seeing it more. As things are getting warmer, the bird can’t necessarily evolve quick enough to catch up with what’s happening,” added Hodges.

If you are worried about birds in your bird box, the center asks you to call at 540-798-9836 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.

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