Drought and cold snap could impact chicks this year in Saskatchewan: biologist
Saskatchewan’s spring drought followed by a sudden cold snap could affect the province’s bird populations, according to a biologist and educator.
Jared Clarke said drought conditions in southern Saskatchewan have been particularly difficult for Canada geese looking for places to build nests.
“There are a lot of wetlands that aren’t there this year. They are dry. And so the geese would have come back around Regina and found out that those wetlands weren’t there and then had to make the decision to move somewhere else, “Clarke says.
Geese need water for their goslings when they hatch to protect themselves from predators. In addition, some mature geese may have returned prematurely, found suitable habitat, causing less mature geese to take longer to find a place.
Geese won’t be the only ones affected by the weather this year. Clarke said the recent cold snap could affect some small birds.
“The aerial insectivores, so things like your barn swallows and purple martins, these guys are really struggling since we had that cold snap,” Clarke said. Weekend in Saskatchewan.
The cold snap can deteriorate the body condition of some small birds, meaning they can lay fewer eggs, Clarke said.
“It definitely has impacts,” Clarke said. “Mountain bluebirds will already have babies that have potentially hatched. So it could kill them because adults might not be able to find enough food to feed them.”
Clarke said climate change would mean droughts like this could become more likely. He said these extreme weather events are becoming more frequent and are putting tremendous pressure on bird species.
“Aerial insectivores like our swallows and fly traps and stuff like that, it’s the fastest declining group of birds in North America right now.