Helping Wildlife During a Heatwave

Posted June 30, 2021 by Sasha, Wildlife Technician


How can I help wildlife during hot weather?

How do birds stay cool in this heat?

What impact does excessive heat have on wildlife?

How do I know when wildlife needs help?

How does Wildlife Rescue keep it’s patients cool?


How can I help wildlife during hot weather?

During hot weather events, you can help wildlife out by putting out a birdbath for them to cool off in and drink! Don’t have a birdbath? A shallow dish, such as a plant saucer, will suffice!

For their safety, please ensure that:

  • The dish is shallow enough that the smallest of birds won’t drown (1-2 inches of water is sufficient).
  • Refill the water as it evaporates quickly on hot days!
  • Clean and change the water daily, more frequently if you have lots of visitors using it!
  • Put it in a safe location, away from outdoor cats and other pets, and preferably in the shade!

How do birds stay cool in this heat?

Did you know that birds lack the ability to sweat?! So how do they stay cool during these HOT summer days?

Birds have developed their own mechanisms for keeping cool, such as panting, puffing up their feathers, and fluttering their wings. They also like to do what we humans like to do – splash around in the water to cool down!

For wildlife in an urban setting, water and shade may be limited. Help wildlife stay cool by providing a safe, shallow, source of water. Keep an eye out for all types of wildlife seeking water bodies in unusual places, such as pools and water fountains, which can trap and potentially drown the animals.

What impact does excessive heat have on wildlife?

Very few animal species can sweat, so animals struggle to lose excess body heat during extreme weather events. Heat stress can cause animals to have difficulty breathing which may appear as panting, an increased respiration rate, loss of appetite, and drooling.

 

How do I know when wildlife needs help?

Signs of overheating in birds include panting, open-mouth breathing, fluffed-up, and lethargy. Some nestlings may jump from their nest due to overheating, and fledglings may wander away from their parents in search of water. Dehydration is a big concern during hot days. If you find a bird that is easily approachable (won’t fly off when approached), looks sleepy (lethargic), is fluffed up, or has any visible injuries or blood, please contact our Support Centre for assistance.

If you find wildlife in distress, please contact our Support Centre at (604) 526-7275. Please be aware that on busy days, our helpline staff and volunteers can have a backlog of calls exceeding two hours. If the situation is dire, follow instructions on this page on how to safely contained an injured animal.

How does Wildlife Rescue keep its patients cool?

Here at Wildlife Rescue, we work hard to keep all of our patients comfortable during these uncomfortably hot days by providing…

  • Splash pools for all patients housed outdoors to cool off in.
  • A sprinkler system set up in enclosures to provide automatic misting during the hottest hours of the day.
  • Manuel misting every feeding round for young patients.
  • Air conditioning and fans for our indoor patients.
  • Shade panels on enclosures to provide a reprieve from the sun!




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