Snow in British Columbia leads to record numbers of hummingbirds in wildlife rescue


Prolonged snow and freezing temperatures in recent weeks on the south coast of British Columbia are also having a significant impact on local wildlife.

Linda Bakker of the Wildlife Rescue Association in Burnaby said they were dealing with unprecedented numbers of hummingbirds, when they normally only see a few in late December.

“The last week of December we usually see a handful of hummingbirds, and now we see 10 times as many,” she said. “We had a day admission of 15 hummingbirds in one day.”

The association’s co-executive director said fast-flying birds have high metabolisms and it has become more difficult to find food to feed on as feeders freeze.

“We see them dehydrated, emaciated, lethargic,” she said. “Sometimes when they try to feed themselves from the feeders their tongue freezes in the feeder.”

Bakker said on Thursday that there are currently around 20 hummingbirds in their care. Little patients may also need to be hand-fed every 15 minutes, and they’re not the only creatures that need help in greater numbers.

“We see a lot of… red-breasted woodpeckers,” she said. “They live at higher elevations and they go down to the city, so they have a hard time finding food. “

The influx comes at the end of an already unusually busy year on the whole, marked by extreme weather conditions.

“We had over 6,000 admissions. The year before, we had around 4,800, ”Bakker said. “All environmental events certainly have an effect on the wildlife and on our operations… Today many volunteers cannot come because they are stuck in the snow. “

In southern Vancouver Island, the BC SPCA Wild Animal Rehabilitation Center, or Wild ARC, said it treated 3,128 patients last year, surpassing the previous record of 3,066 in 2017.

Andrea Wallace, head of the organization for the welfare of wild animals, said that in winter many creatures that show up are injured by cars or in some cases see birds getting sick after eating in a contaminated feeder. She said the intense weather can also have an impact.

“Food water and shelter are the top three things all living things need … and during these extreme events, some of them can be harder to find,” Wallace said. “In those sub-zero temperatures, people could set up a birdbath or other water source and make sure the water is changed every day… you could also bring a hummingbird feeder at night.”

She also recommended cleaning birdseed feeders regularly and thoroughly, and added that if people find wild animals hiding on their properties in the winter, they may just take cover and disturbing them may cause them to waste energy. precious.

As warmer temperatures are on the way, until the snow clears, Bakker expects more birds to need help.

“For hummingbirds right now, feeder care is really important,” she said. “Keep it clean, avoid freezing and feed the right food … sugar water is best.” “

For tips on how to prevent a hummingbird freezer from feeding and when to call for help with a bird, visit the Wildlife Rescue Association online.

The BCSPCA also has information online on the behavior and needs of wildlife in winter, and how to avoid vehicle collisions with animals at this time of year.

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