Recently, New York State experienced the harsh effects of raging wildfires in the Canadian Province of Ontario. For several days, air quality indexes spiked to concerning and unhealthy levels, as noticeable smoke covered most of the state in a haze. Here in New York, multiple smaller wildland fires have burned in locations across the state due to dry spring conditions. In addition to causing potential human health and safety concerns, wildfires also may affect local bird and wildlife populations.
According to the National Audubon Society, while many birds may be able to avoid fires and smoke pollution by simply flying away, weaker birds may be unable to escape. Like humans, researchers have also found that particulate matter in smoke may damage animal lung tissue, leaving these creatures prone to possible deadly respiratory infections. But it is not all bad. Many bird species have evolved with fire and benefit from the conditions that follow as new growth in a burn area develops.
To help birds experiencing the effects of local wildfires, please consider the following:
- Provide water via bird baths for thirsty birds to drink and bathe in.
- Look out for sick or injured birds. If a bird is in noticeable distress, call your local wildlife rehabilitator to seek advice.
Photo at top: Wildfire. NYS DEC photo.