DARTMOUTH – This extended Winter has been hard on us, but it’s been especially hard on migratory birds moving into our area. Thanks to the snow, birds are struggling to find food and many are dying or becoming too weak to fly.
Injured and sick birds are constantly being brought in to ‘Homeward Bound City Pound’ in Dartmouth.
“This robin was found in a puddle on the side of the road,” says Katie Hauser, an employee at Homward Bound.
“Oh he’s very skinny. You can feel, that’s his keel bone right there. He should be puffed up just like a big chicken breast,” said Hauser.
It’s been a hard Spring on birds in Nova Scotia because the fields continue to be covered in snow. It’s especially difficult for migratory birds that have just arrived from down South. Robins and American Woodcocks can’t find the food they need to survive.
“Their main food source is bugs and grubs and worms and anything they would find in the dirt, and they can’t get to the dirt,” said Hauser.
Dave Currie found one spot where American Woodcocks are feeding. In 40 years following birds, the President of the Nova Scotia Bird Society says he’s never seen so many in one place searching for food.
“I may have a dozen reports that I can say I actually seen a woodcock. You can see a dozen now in one spot if it’s open ground.”
An American Woodcock at the City Pound was well underweight.
“A full grown adult woodcock should weigh around 200 grams,” says Hauser. “This one is around 120 grams.”
Currie says woodcocks aren’t strong flyers and are vulnerable to prey. They are also ground feeders. They have a certain swagger that’s easy to recognize.
“We do expect a fair amount of mortality with the American Woodcock this year,” says Currie, “but hopefully some will survive as they normally do. It cleans the system a little bit.”
“Next year there won’t be as many woodcock, but at some point in time, they’ll build up again.”
If you want to help the birds, Hauser has a few suggestions.
“You can put out dry or soaked dry cat food or wet canned food,” says Hauser.
“Egg yolks, hard boiled egg yolks, any bird seed, mash,” she says is also good. But bread is not advised, birds can choke on it.