One wildlife rehabilitation center in rural Oregon says it got “three months’ worth of birds” in three days.
Another, in northern California, declared a “hawkpocalypse” in June.
And earlier in the summer, Portland Audubon, a nonprofit environmental organization, took in more than 100 Cooper’s hawks over four days as temperatures soared to record highs in the 110s. Normally they might get a dozen in a year.
Around the West, young birds of prey have been jumping out of their nests before they can fly to escape historic heat, landing helpless on the ground and in some cases sustaining injuries so serious they are euthanized. With more scorching temperatures coming for the northwestern United States and Canada starting this weekend, experts worry extreme weather fueled by climate change is set to take a growing toll on wildlife.
The creatures picked up by humans and delivered to rehabilitation centers are just “the tip of the iceberg,” said Bob Sallinger, director of conservation at Portland Audubon. He said the long-term effects are hard to predict but sees the recent spate of bird intakes as “data points” in a vast, still-unfolding and alarming story.
“I think these events really are wake-up calls,” he said, noting that birds in Oregon have already weathered intense wildfires and an ice storm in the past year. “That climate change is here, that the impacts are becoming more and more visible.” [Continue reading…]