Tips to Help Richmond’s Birds and Bats During the Heatwave
Beware of panting, open mouth breathing, puffy feathers and lethargy in birds: Wildlife Rescue.
Metro Vancouver’s heat warning continues to be in effect and the people of Richmond – humans and wildlife – are all trying to calm down.
If you see birds on the ground that are panting, breathing with their mouths open, have puffy feathers, or are lethargic, they could be having overheating issues. And the same goes for lethargic bats.
“If they need help, we don’t recommend the public do anything other than call us for advice,” said Linda Bakker, co-executive director of the Burnaby-based Wildlife Rescue Association of BC.
Wildlife Rescue takes in around 300 birds (especially seagulls and songbirds) and bats in need of Richmond a year, and it’s getting more and more calls about the impact of heat across the Lower Mainland, according to Bakker.
Although the rescue only takes in birds and bats, they are also able to assess the situation over the phone for all wildlife and advise accordingly.
“Whether [mammals] need help, we always refer them to Critter Care in Langley, as they will take care of the animals and look after them,” Bakker added.
One of the reasons we should call first is that the wildlife may not need any help at all.
“It is very common for some of these species of nestlings to be already on the ground after leaving the nest and hopping around as they slowly learn to fly and the parents are still feeding them.
“So it’s important for people to know that this can be a normal situation or a bird in need,” Bakker explained.
Can we do anything but call for help?
If the animal is obviously in trouble, community members can also pick it up and put it in a box and either take it to Wildlife Rescue immediately or bring it to the Richmond Community Animal Shelter, which takes in wildlife on behalf of the rescue.
When collecting a bird, community members are advised to wear gloves and protect themselves.
“Bird flu can spread among wild birds. Some birds don’t even show symptoms, so always be aware,” Bakker said.
And extra care should be taken when handling bats.
“Bats can carry rabies. We therefore never advise people to touch them without proper protection, or use tools to put them in a box and ensure that box is secured with vent holes. It’s quite a process,” she said, adding that the Wildlife Rescue helpline can guide people through the process safely.
What can we do before wildlife overheats?
There are also plenty of things Richmond residents can do to keep wildlife from overheating, Bakker said.
For example, “installing birdbaths, even just a shallow water dish” and “putting in place safe and secure structures” can be very helpful.
“If you throw water, I’m sure it could be used by birds or by mammals, it all depends on what lives in your garden,” she added.
Water dishes should be shallow in case birds drown in them, and they should be cleaned regularly with birdbaths to prevent the spread of any diseases, such as bird flu and salmonella.
“At this temperature, it’s probably best to do it every day,” Bakker said.
To prepare for the future, Bakker also suggests planning for more native plants, shrubs and shrubs.