Birds

The storm hit at the wrong time for the baby birds, rescue centers say

The storm hit at the wrong time for the baby birds, rescue centers say

Last weekend’s severe storm hit at a particularly bad time for baby birds because many local species are nesting, according to those who run bird rescue organizations in the city.

The Wild Bird Care Center said within four days of the storm, people had already dropped off half the number of crows it usually receives in a season.

About 150 birds were delivered to its temporary location on Cedarview Road last week, and most were babies, according to general manager Sandra Sawers.

Crows typically nest in the upper third of evergreen trees, Sawers said, so they were particularly hard hit by the storm.

“He’s a bird with strong family ties, and it’s heartbreaking for us that they’re separated from their families,” Sawers told CBC Radio. All in one day.

Christina Huppé of Safe Wings Ottawa said her organization has also received several calls about baby birds, including one from two young boys who found a pair of baby crows in her neighborhood.

A large pine tree had fallen, and while three in the nest were dead, two were still alive and one was unharmed.

For the healthy bird, Crested fashioned a makeshift nest and reinstalled it in the tree, where it is now cared for by its mother and father.

“It’s a common misconception that if you touch a baby bird, the parents will reject it,” Huppé said. “They don’t have a very good sense of smell. And if you think about it, birds use materials to make their nests that are full of human scent.”

But that doesn’t mean the parents weren’t angry that she took the injured bird.

“It was about 40 crows circling overhead, screeching,” she said.

Christina Huppé helped save this injured baby crow after two young boys called Safe Wings Ottawa when they discovered a fallen nest. (Submitted by Christina Huppé)

What to do if you find a bird while cleaning up after a storm

Crows and owls only have one brood per year, Huppé said, and so they are more attached to their young than starlings, grackles and robins, which can have two or three.

She said the first thing to do with an injured bird is to make sure it is warm, as it cannot regulate its own body temperature.

Huppé advises against giving them food and water and instead asks people to call local rehab experts.

“I think it’s really important for anyone cleaning their property to just check, look for nestlings, look for nests,” Huppé said.

If it’s unclear whether or not a bird is healthy, Sawers recommends calling the Wild Bird Care Center.

Once a bird is taken care of, staff perform a full examination and provide vital fluids, medication and any necessary treatment for their injuries. Some are placed in incubators and all are hand-fed every 20 minutes, Sawers said.

They are reared among other birds and eventually released.

“Don’t be a birdnapper – that is, keep perfectly fine baby birds away from their parents,” she said, adding that she supports the makeshift nesting approach used by Huppé.

Bird flu could pose a slight risk

Sawers said the spread of bird flu has made collecting birds more difficult this year and warns against touching birds with bare hands.

Instead, people should wear gloves and a mask and use a towel to pick them up. Once in a container, people should wash their hands well and avoid bringing wild birds into their homes.

However, Huppé said bird flu has mainly been found in waterfowl and gloves should be adequate protection.

“The risk of bird flu in baby songbirds is very low,” she said. “[People] don’t be afraid to help them.”