Caring for Birds During Wildfire Season
During a wildfire, adult birds can easily fly from danger, however if springtime, they must leave their young, who may not yet be able to fly, in harms way. Migratory birds can fly the additional distance to find new territory, however local birds may have difficulty finding landscape that is suited to their needs.
Airsacs in a birds body force the direction of oxygen one way thru the body (unlike mammals) and oxygen concentrations are higher in their blood; making toxins more dangerous to them. When exposed to smoky conditions, it’s important to get the bird on the most nutritious diet available.
For Wildbirds, provide healthy, nutritious foods such as suet, black-oil sunflower seeds, fruit, nuts and nectar. Also provide fresh, clean water for both drinking and bathing daily. Plant native trees and shrubs to help provide protection. Wild birds should be taken to a bird rehabilitation center/sanctuary if injured or if they appear lethargic.
For Pets, this excludes seeds, which are notoriously unhealthy for birds. Feed your bird pellets. You can also supplement with antioxidants Omega 3 fatty acids, grape seed extract, vitamins C and E. Make sure to research how these may affect your bird as each bird species is affected differently.
Symptoms could take minimum of 3 weeks to start to resolve, including: breathing hard, bobbing their tails, sitting on the bottom of the cage fluffed up or just acting lethargic and not wanting to eat much. Additional steps to take include running your air conditioner, using a Heppa filter, use fans to keep air flowing, keep doors and windows closed. If there is ash still in the air outside, you can place a very damp sheet over the top of the cage. Do not use any fabric that is too heavy or too wet as this can cause additional breathing complications.
Once a fire is over, birds will have to adapt to different predators, different landscapes, and finding new food sources. In the case of naturally occurring fires, the land often experiences more diversity of species, including birds, during regrowth.
Current status of Arizona Wildfires: http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/arizona-wildfires/2017/07/04/what-you-need-know-21-wildland-fires-burning-arizona/448012001/
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