Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Oh the heat!

My goodness, the heat. The temperature during the past and upcoming few days has been nearly all that anyone is talking about. It is impossible to avoid if one wishes to leave an air-conditioned home if they are fortunate enough to have one. Today was the worst, with record high temperatures were tied or broken all across New England and the Mid-Atlantic. Fortunately, it should be the worst day this week, and likely this year. At around 2PM I got a reading of 101.4 in Stratford. The heat index was well into the 112-116 range. Getting to 100 on the coast takes a lot of work.

Days like this humans and birds share the same feeling - that of not wanting to do much of anything. During the brief times I have been outside in the past few days there have not been many birds to hear or see. It was notably quiet (to the ears) today. Very few birds were singing or calling. I heard an American Goldfinch call as it flew over, while a Great Crested Flycatcher yelled out "creeeeeep!" in the woods. The local House Wrens were a bit chatty, likely only because of me. Most of the sightings I had were of birds taking a short, slow, flight to the birdbaths. I did not see any that bathed. They only drank, and quite a bit. A Gray Catbird took an exceptionally long drink before darting back into the shade.

House Wren bringing food to nestlings - the young are very vulnerable in extreme heat on days such as this.

Some birds are suffering a bit more than others are. Yesterday I saw a group of Fish Crow at the airport in Stratford that were panting in the hot sunlight. At first, from a distance, I thought I had spotted some fledglings. When I came up to them it was obvious they were overheated adults. Even at one of the coolest locations, Stratford Point, the male Red-winged Blackbirds were panting in between calls and short songs. Most species are lucky enough to have fledglings right now due to the early start to the breeding season in the unseasonably warm spring. Any young still in a nest are at mortal risk due to the extreme heat. Nearly all of the birds will do just fine staying out of the sun and lessening their activity levels. The best way to help them, and indirectly your local mammals, would be to put out some water. Make sure whatever you use is clean and free of chemicals, toxins, or pollutants. Otherwise, it is best to leave nature to its own way.

Photo © Scott Kruitbosch

No comments:

Post a Comment