Island eagles suffering due to unusual heat this summer

Island eagles suffering due to unusual heat this summer
WatchWildlife rescue centres have seen a spike in starving and dehydrated eagles since the first heatwave hit in June. Dean Stoltz has more.

A bird that normally fairs well in summer has taken a battering with recent heat waves.

Another bald eagle was taken to the North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre (NIWRA) in Errington Sunday after it was noticed lying on its chest and slow to move.

It is the 16th eagle now being cared for at the centre, and there are another 18 sick eagles at Mountainaire Avian Rescue in Merville.

The summer is usually a healthy time for eagles, but not this year.

“Sixteen eagles in care and the majority of them came in the last month and a half starting when the first heat wave hit in June,” said animal care supervisor Derek Downes.

Young eagles have been fleeing the nest because it’s too hot. Others of all ages are suffering because it’s too hot to hunt or their food sources are also affected by the heat.

“They have to be out in the elements and not only out in the elements but trying to find food for themselves,” added Downes. “It’s even harder for breeding pairs that are trying to raise their young because they’re trying to find food for them too.”

Eagles become severely dehydrated because they get most of their hydration from the food they eat, not from drinking water, said Downes, adding that many of the birds that arrive at the centre are covered in parasites.

“When a bird starts to starve like that the first thing they stop doing is preening themselves. They’re not going to waste what limited energy they have on preening,” said Downes.

The recovery can take weeks or longer but then there’s the question of when to release them.

“The ones we’re getting and even if they’re healthy and ready to return we can’t put them back out right now because of what’s happening in the environment so it means they’ve got a delayed stay here which we have to hold over until things change a little bit,” said Robin Campbell of the NIWRA.

The public can help the recovery centre get through this period by donating fish, game meat, fruits and berries. Monetary donations can also be made at

[email protected]

READ MORE: Beloved North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre bear passes away, leaves lasting legacy


Dean StoltzDean Stoltz

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