To Feed or Not To Feed?

Fall and Winter Bird Feeder Guidance

Many of us like to give wildlife a helping hand by providing bird feeders over the cold fall and winter months. With various avian diseases spreading during these months, it is important to be mindful about offering food in a safe way. Ultimately, the goal is to do what is best for wildlife!

Wildlife Rescue notices an increase in birds presenting with contagious avian diseases, such as salmonella and conjunctivitis, during the colder months. Diseases can easily spread among birds sharing feeders because feeders attract large numbers of birds to one location.

We can’t tell a sick bird not to come to the buffet, so sometimes it’s best just to postpone the dinner party before anyone else gets sick.

If you notice sick birds in your backyard, we recommend cleaning your feeders and putting them away for at least 3-4 weeks and until sick birds are no longer present in your backyard. This way you can help minimize the spread of avian diseases.

Here are a few symptoms to look out for:

  • They look puffed up and sleepy (they may sleep on the feeder)
  • Not alert or not moving very much
  • Inactive and have seeds all over their beak
  • Swollen or abnormal looking eyes
  • Seeking heat up against a building

If you are choosing to offer a feeder, we recommend taking the following steps to help keep wildlife safe:

  • Remove all seeds from the ground daily.
  • Please clean your feeder at least every two weeks by washing it with hot soapy water.
  • Then, rinse the feeder thoroughly and disinfect using a solution of one part household bleach and nine parts water.
  • Ensure that the feeder is thoroughly rinsed and fully dried after disinfection before refilling with fresh food.

Please note hummingbird feeders have a different set of recommendations.


Other ways to support wildlife

Including native plants in backyard gardens is another effective way to provide food and shelter to wild birds over the fall and winter months. You will attract more wildlife visitors to your yard without needing to maintain a feeder.

These are some native species you can plant in BC:

  • White Fawn Lily
  • Salmonberry
  • Oso berry
  • Red-Flowering Currant
  • Native Columbines
  • Lupines
  • Pacific Bleeding Heart

Have you seen birds showing signs of disease, or do you have any questions? Reach out to our Support Centre for support and guidance via 604-526-7275 or

Thank you for looking out for your local wildlife!

Extreme Weather Effects on Wildlife

Climate change is one of the biggest threats facing wildlife worldwide. It is happening twice as fast than the global average in Canada. Studies show that climate change leads to longer heat waves, stronger hurricanes, increased wildfire risk along with a longer wildfire season. It is predicted that there will be more droughts, heavier rain events and severe cold spells. The more gradual warming of our climate combined with these extreme weather events are endangering wildlife and the habitats they live in.

Mac Pearsall, assistant manager of Wildlife Rescue’s hospital says, “although heat waves and weather events have always happened, it is the severity and frequency that they are occurring at now that is the cause for concern.”

Here are some of the effects extreme weather events have on wildlife in BC.

  1. Heatwaves: During heatwaves, the temperature rises much higher than normal. This extreme heat can lead to dehydration and heat stress in animals. Jackie McQuillan, Manager of Wildlife Rescue’s Support Centre explains “We are seeing a rise in heat-impacted animals. This was never something that was on our radar a couple of decades ago. Now we see it every summer. We get many calls about baby gulls overheating on rooftops, baby bats ejecting from colonies and many other animals struggling to find water and shade during extreme heat events.” Animals may struggle to find water or find enough to eat as plants dry up. Heatwaves can also cause wildfires. Wildfires can kill animals directly, or indirectly. Wildfires destroy habitats, force animals to flee which puts them in danger. Fleeing animals are forced to compete for fewer resources and are at greater risk of predation or conflict with humans.
  2. Changing Migration Patterns: Migratory species have had their patterns disrupted and rerouted due to extreme weather events and unusually mild winters. Bird migration patterns have been moving north in recent decades, climate change may be accelerating this process leaving birds vulnerable to the extreme temperatures in new locations.
  3. Changing Seasons: Spring is starting earlier which can lead to changes in food availability for wildlife and cause devastating imbalances in the ecosystem. An early spring can trigger hibernating animals to wake up too soon. These animals can face starvation if they are unable to find food during a period when they would normally be dormant. Droughts and extreme heat during the summer can also impact hibernating animals as they are unable to store up enough fat.
  4. Loss of Habitat: Extreme weather events like wildfires can destroy large areas of habitat. As habitats shrink and animals move to avoid extreme weather events, their populations become fragmented. If a population is separated it becomes very difficult for those animals to recover and thrive.
  5. Invasive Species: Warmer temperatures can benefit invasive species, as their numbers increase, and range expands it becomes easier for invasives to overtake native species. Invasive species outcompete native species for already scarce resources like homes, food, and water.

Extreme weather events are the most visible impact of climate change and at Wildlife Rescue we are seeing the impact on wildlife firsthand. In the fall of 2021, a Spotted Bat was rescued and brought into care at Wildlife Rescue. This rare bat, named for the three large spots across its shoulders was a unique visitor to the lower mainland. Spotted bats can typically be found in the dry interior valleys of British Columbia. The bat was dehydrated and underweight, after 19 days of care in our hospital it was successfully released. Climate change and extreme weather events may force wildlife like this spotted bat into new unfamiliar territories. Far from their regular habitat wildlife may have trouble finding the resources they need to survive, increasing the need for our organizations like Wildlife Rescue.

Time to Leave the Nest and Glow Up

Contributed by Lauren Kerley, Wildlife Rescue Education Coordinator

Cute may not be the first word that comes to your mind when you see a baby bird. Hatchlings and nestlings can look strange, with odd proportions and unfamiliar plumage. Baby birds go through a huge transformation to become recognizable adult birds.

Swallow babies, like the Barn Swallow nestling pictured above, are great examples of a glow up in the bird world. Swallow babies undergo a beautiful transformation that prepares them for life on the wing.

Swallows are elegant birds both perched and in flight. Their distinct flight patterns, elongated body shape and deeply forked tail make them easily recognizable in flight. Their beautiful plumage is best admired while the birds are perched. Swallows have two tone plumage patterns, darker on top and lighter underneath. Colours range from glimmering cobalt blues found in Barn Swallows to vibrant greens and purples of the Violet-Green Swallows.

Their feathers are more than just for show though as the birds are highly specialized for aerial life, spending an impressive 60% of their time in the air. Not only do the birds hunt and eat in the air, but they also drink and bathe while in flight too!

Even these beautiful songbirds have drab babies, like many other baby birds, swallow nestlings have spotted or streaked plumage to help them camouflage in their nests, protecting them from predators. A lot of changes need to occur before babies are ready to leave the nest, a beautiful and necessary transformation.

Six swallow species call British Columbia home for at least part of the year; Bank Swallows, Tree Swallows, Cliff Swallows, Violet-Green Swallows, Barn Swallows, and Northern Rough-winged Swallows. Populations of all six swallow species are in decline, with Barn and Bank Swallows being designated as threatened species under COSEWIC (Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada).

How to Safely Drop Off Wildlife

Hundreds of injured and orphaned wildlife patients arrive at Wildlife Rescue due to window and car strikes, nest disturbances, and natural and human disturbances.

Below is your step-by-step guide that takes you through the process of dropping off rescued animals.

Found an animal in distress?

  • If, at any time, you are unsure what to do please call (604-526-7275) or email ( our Support Centre for advice on how to handle injured wildlife. Never attempt to handle anything dangerous such as a bird of prey or bat yourself.
  • If you are going to handle small songbirds or waterfowl, we suggest wearing gloves and a mask for the safety of animals and yourself. Use a cardboard box with small ventilation holes and a completely secure top. Place a towel inside and put the animal on the towel, closing the top quickly and securely. Place a towel over the box.

Dropping off at Wildlife Rescue:

  • Please call our Support Centre to notify us prior to arriving.
  • Our drop off hours vary seasonally, but our Helpline is available to answer questions from 9:00-3:00 pm daily, 7 days a week.

If you plan to drop wildlife at the centre during operating hours, please follow these instructions:

  • Proceed to 5216 Glencarin Drive, on the south shore of Burnaby Lake
  • Please park in any of the parking spots in either parking lot.
  • Follow the signage to our Admissions Centre where Wildlife Rescue personnel will guide you on next steps.

If you plan to drop wildlife at the centre after operating hours, please follow these instructions:

  • Proceed to 5216 Glencarin Drive, on the south shore of Burnaby Lake
  • When you are within sight of the end of Glencarin Drive you will notice the Administration Building on your left with the clearly marked Intake Shed to the left of the stairs.
  • Please park in any of the parking spots in either parking lot.
  • Place your bird in a secured and ventilated box on the shelf inside the Intake Shed.
  • Completely fill out the front side of the white intake form (located on the clipboard) so we know where the bird was found and what happened to it.
  • Place the form under the box.
  • Ensure the door to the Intake Shed is securely closed when you depart.
  • Please consider donating to help care for the patient you have found here.

Duckling FAQ

Spring is duckling season, and with that comes a lot of questions about what to do when little baby ducks show up in unexpected places. Get your questions answered with our quick and handy Duckling FAQ! If you’ve still got questions, feel free to email or call our help line at (604) 526-275.

Download Here (Duckling FAQ)

How You Can Help Nesting Herons

Like many bird species, the large and majestic Great Blue Herons are working away at nesting and laying eggs. While they’re not an uncommon sight around Vancouver, they are a species at risk in BC.

Despite their relatively large size, herons are extremely sensitive birds. The slightest human disturbance can cause a heron to completely abandon their nest. As herons nest in colonies of multiple families (also known as rooks), a group of herons abandoning a nest due to stress can be devastating.

What can you do to help? If you’ve noticed herons nesting near your home or favourite walking path, do your best to steer clear of the nest to prevent disturbing the birds. Keep an eye out for signs. Sometimes conservation officers will place them in the area to warn the public that a heron nest is nearby.

The above is especially true if you have a lovable canine friend. Dogs are a big disturbance for nesting herons, so be sure to keep your best friend close, on a leash, and well away from nesting sites on your daily walks this spring.

Your donations are critical to helping the local heron population! With your help, nests of orphaned baby herons can receive the care they need at Wildlife Rescue. Together, we can do our part to help these majestic, and sensitive, animals survive.

Co-existing with Coyotes

There are more babies on the way in spring than just birds! Coyotes are great at pest control, eating rats and mice, so it’s important to know how we can best share our environment with these tenacious wild animals.

Coyotes will form breeding pairs and begin having litters of puppies around this time of year. They are dedicated parents, and both males and females will stay with the litter. Coyotes are more visible at this time of year as they’ll be patrolling their territory with frequency. They might appear to act more aggressive, but in reality they’re just trying to keep their little ones safe. So, what can we do if we think there’s coyote activity in our neighbourhood?

Our friends at the Stanley Park Ecology Society have come up with the following guidelines for safe coexistence:

During breeding season it is very important for people to be aware of their surroundings when they’re out in parks or natural spaces, especially if they are walking a dog.

  • Avoid encounters altogether – consult the Stanley Park Ecology Society coyote sightings map for areas to avoid and adjust your route and respect trail closures.
  • Keep dogs on-leash to give you more control if you encounter a coyote.
  • Should you see a coyote, keep an eye on it as you walk steadily away from the area, picking up your dog, if able. Stay calm and observe its behaviour for cues.
  • If a coyote gets too close, haze it by raising your arms to be BIG and yell deeply to be LOUD.
  • Do not run away from a coyote; this may invite it to chase you.
  • Assess properties for food attractants and potential denning sites. Remove any food sources like open trash or compost. Cut down overgrown vegetation and close off any openings that can be used as dens.

Most importantly, If you see a coyote, you can report the sighting to the Stanley Park Ecology Society here! This helps the conservation community know where activity is highest and can help keep people, pets and coyotes safe.

Your Garden Can Help Wildlife!

Now that spring is well on its way, many of us are looking to get started on the season’s gardening so that we can enjoy a beautiful outdoor space all summer. You can get your backyard ready for yourself and help wildlife at the same time this spring with these simple tips from the Wildlife Rescue team!

First, this weekend is looking like a great time to start trimming hedges and shrubs. Few species will have started nesting at this point, so you’re less at risk of disturbing a nest. Hummingbirds do settle down early, so be on the lookout for their little nests. Any cut branches you’ve left behind might then be snatched up to help build a comfortable home for other birds.

You may be tempted to keep going and start raking all those fallen leaves, but here’s a great excuse to put it off a little longer! Pollinators like bees and butterflies will overwinter under piles of insulating leaves. Wait until temperatures are consistently 10 degrees Celsius or higher before cleaning up to give these beneficial insects time to wake up for spring.

When it’s time to get planting, focus on native species for your balcony or yard. These species help feed hummingbirds and berry eaters, so your greenspace can support their foraging. As an added bonus, you’ll attract more wildlife visitors to your yard without needing to maintain a feeder.

In BC, plant native species, like…

As always, thank you for looking out for your local wildlife!

Halloween Safety for Wildlife

The spookiest night of the year is coming soon! While we here at Wildlife Rescue are big fans of all things that go bump in the night, we’d like to take a moment to help you make sure your moonlit rituals, haunted houses and sunken crypts are as safe for wildlife as possible!

Artificial Spider Webs
While artificial spider webs are a great way to add some creepy ambiance, they are a major hazard for wildlife. Every year we take in animals who have been entangled in these decorations. Sadly, many people discover these trapped birds, bats and squirrels when they are taking decorations down after Halloween and by that time it’s often far too late.

  • If you’d like to use fake spider webs in your Halloween display, we suggest placing them inside your windows rather than anywhere outdoors.

It’s not Halloween without Trick or Treating! Unfortunately chocolate and other things we humans find delicious are deadly to pets and wildlife, plus individually wrapped treats leave a lot of waste behind that can seriously injure animals.

  • It can be hard but wait to start eating treats until you get home and can properly dispose of any wrappers!
  • If you leave a bowl of treats outside, make sure to cover it with a lid to keep animals out.

Carving a Jack o’ Lantern is a favourite activity for a lot of people to celebrate Halloween. A lot of hard work goes in to making those creepy grins. However, pumpkins can be a temptingly tasty treat for wildlife like deer or racoons. It might be tempting to try and dissuade animals from eating your pumpkins with chemicals or other deterrents, but this often leads to animals becoming seriously ill.

  • If you’re worried about animals eating your pumpkins rather than attempt a deterrent we suggest waiting until October 31st to put them out. That way they’ll be there for your spooky display, and if they get eaten the next night you won’t have to throw them in the compost anyways!

Fireworks are loud, disruptive and frightening to pets and wild animals alike. Not only that but launching them into the air can seriously injure or even kill flying birds and bats. Even the most diligent fireworks operator likely won’t be able to clean up all the refuse left behind from a fireworks display, and a lot of trash can be left behind for animals to find.

Going Batty on All Hallow’s Eve

Here’s a fun idea for an event thanks to BC Bats. Organize a bat count! When the sun goes down bat activity is at its highest. Take yourself, your kids, some friends and your trick or treating candy to a quiet area near a bat roost and start counting!

  • Arrive at your bat roost at sunset (bats will begin to emerge at dusk).
  • The air temperature should be at least 12 deg (C) with no rain and low wind speed.
  • Sit or stand outside so that the bats’ exit point is visible from a comfortable distance. More than one person might be needed if bats are exiting from multiple points.
  • Tally the bats as they fly out for their nightly insect-eating. Use a counting app on your phone or a hand “clicker” to make counting easy.
  • Do not enter bat roosts and never handle a live bat.
  • Please respect private property. Ask permission if the bat roost is on someone else’s property.
  • You can find more information about bat counting at BC Bats website here: Counting bats – BC BATS

HPAI (Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza) Statement

To our valued Wildlife Rescue supporters,

As you may already know, cases of HPAI (Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza) have been detected in BC. We want to let you know that Wildlife Rescue Association is aware of this risk and has taken action to keep staff, volunteers, and our feathered patients safe. We are continuing to monitor this situation, following the guidance of the Public Health Agency of Canada, and will adapt as needed to ensure the highest level of safety is assured.

For the most current guidance regarding wild birds, bird feeders, caring for domestic birds, and reporting sick or dead birds—please visit the official Government of Canada website at the link below.

Wildlife Rescue Association is not responsible for the surveillance of Avian Influenza in Canada. For the most up-to-date reports and information on the status of HPAI in Canada, please refer to the Government of Canada website at the link below.

Thank you for your continued support of our wildlife patients at this time!


Regarding bird feeders

To feed or not to feed?

Current research suggests that well-maintained bird feeders and hummingbird feeders are low-risk, but not no-risk, for transmitting many diseases including this virus. If you choose to keep a bird feeder or hummingbird feeder, please remember that this is an important responsibility. Clean and maintain your bird feeders regularly to ensure the safety and wellbeing of wildlife now, and year-round.

Backyard bird feeders, hummingbird feeders, and baths should be cleaned regularly using a weak solution of domestic bleach (10% sodium hypochlorite). Ensure they are well rinsed and completely dried before re-use. If you are not able to diligently maintain and clean your bird feeder, please consider removing it for the safety of your wildlife visitors.

Please note, this situation is evolving and this guidance may change. Always refer to the official Government of Canada website for the most current official guidance.

Additional information regarding bird feeders and bird baths is being provided by the BC SPCA.

Their advice is an extra step you can take to support wildlife in BC. For more information about this step, please refer to the BC SPCA website at the link below.

For the most current information and official guidance regarding this evolving situation, please always refer to the Government of Canada’s Avian Influenza Surveillance