Sunday, July 02, 2006

Birds and the Rain

D'Vera Cohn investigated the effect of the recent downpours on wildlife, particularly birds.

Others had left their tree homes deliberately, as fledglings often do a few days before they are capable of flying. In good weather, some people mistakenly worry that the fledglings are stranded, though they are doing what they are supposed to do under their parents' watchful eyes. But the rain dealt them a bad hand, and many were out there alone and unprotected.

"They are pretty vulnerable to begin with, even in good weather," said Fairfax County wildlife biologist Earl Hodnett. "If a storm blows them out of the nest, they can't cope, or more commonly they get soaked and cannot maintain their body heat, so [they] succumb to that."

The rain was falling hard when blown-down baby birds began arriving at Second Chance Wildlife Center in Gaithersburg. Cedar waxwings, blue jays, bluebirds, sparrows and titmice were among the victims....

The other animals vulnerable to drowning or hypothermia are ground-dwelling birds such as wild turkeys.