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Heat wave leads to record numbers for Delta's OWL Society

The Orphaned Wildlife Rehabilitation Society has seen nearly three times the normal daily number of birds needing assistance
OWL heat wave
As temperatures records in B.C. were being broken last week, OWL was shattering their own personal records for the number of birds admitted in one day.

Delta’s Orphaned Wildlife Rehabilitation Society is only just beginning to emerge from the flurry of bird admissions they faced last week.

As temperatures records in B.C. were being broken, OWL was shattering their own personal records for the number of birds admitted in one day.

Over the course of the week, the non-profit society took in around 100 birds needing care, estimates Martina Versteeg, a raptor care supervisor at OWL.

“For our centre, we never have a capacity because we can never turn away a raptor in need. And we make it work and give them all the best care we possibly can with the amount we have,” she says.

While OWL does expect an influx of rescues for this time of year with young birds falling from their nests, this number is definitely out of the normal range, says Versteeg.

And though the exact reason behind every incident can not always be fully known, she theorizes that these young birds were actually jumping from their nests.

“The birds that are in the nests are just looking for an escape,” she says.

And whether that’s an escape from the unruly heat beating down on them or from the increased number of flies attacking them, a fall from that height can lead to broken legs or wings.

“Some of them have come in with maggots around their necks or around their eyes and face. And other ones seem to just jump out of the nest from the heat exhaustion and are found panting on the ground.”

Some of the week’s admissions were also found near water sources, seemingly in search of some reprieve.

But taking care of this increased number of birds is no easy task, and Versteeg would like to thank all the OWL volunteers who work so tirelessly, as well as the community members who find these birds and call them for help.

“As you can imagine, the amount of food that we’re going through right now is quite astronomical,” says Versteeg.

If you’re wanting to help, the organization is looking for fish donations – salmon or trout, fresh or frozen – as well as monetary donations. OWL is also looking for more volunteers to help transport birds to their centre from different locations throughout the province.

If you’re interested, email

And to help your local wildlife, Versteeg recommends putting out some shallow water in a container for them to either drink from or cool off in.

For more information on what you can do to help, check out OWL’s website.