The record-high temperatures gripping parts of the country have caused a reported 10% increase in birds who need to be rescued.
Dehydrated birds are falling from the sky! Here’s how you can help them:
- Provide birds with fresh water: Place shallow dishes on windowsills, balconies, and terraces as well as in gardens. If possible, place the containers in the shade to keep the water cooler. Every day, scrub the containers with a solution of nine parts water to one part vinegar (don’t use soap, as remnants of soap can strip off birds’ natural oils) and refill them with water. Prevention is always better than a cure.
- Help fallen birds: Check them for signs of dehydration, such as sunken or dull eyes, wrinkly skin, lethargy, and solid droppings. One sign of heatstroke in birds is rapid breathing. If a bird needs help, seek a veterinarian or animal protection group’s assistance as soon as possible.
- Provide immediate help: If you see a bird – or any animal for that matter – who urgently needs assistance, you can call PETA India’s 24/7 animal helpline number (98201 22602) for advice or contact a local animal protection group. A directory of animal protection groups is available on WorldAnimal.net. You can also take the bird to the nearest animal hospital.
- Secure the bird: If a bird has fallen to the ground and seems to be dehydrated or suffering from heatstroke, quickly make sure that the animal is in a secure and ventilated place, i.e. where he or she cannot be attacked by other birds, cats, dogs, wild predators, and so on, until veterinary help arrives. If you need to take the animal to a veterinarian yourself, use gloves to place the bird inside a secure cardboard box for transport. It should have holes for ventilation and be lined with paper towels.
- If professional help isn’t available quickly, take other steps: Provide shade immediately, pour cold water over the body, or wrap the bird with a cold towel and provide water or, preferably, something with electrolytes, such as orange or cherry juice, glucose powder, Gatorade diluted by half with water, or a mixture of ¼ tsp salt and ¼ tsp sugar in a mug of warm water. If the bird cannot drink on their own, put a few drops at a time into the animal’s mouth using a syringe, an eye dropper, or a clean cloth.
- If the bird is a baby and not dehydrated, leave them alone: Chances are that the bird you may have found on the ground is a baby who is learning to fly, i.e. a fledging. Many people mistakenly think these young ones are in distress and try to save them, but most fledglings don’t need assistance. Although a nestling (with no or nearly no feathers) may need help, fledglings (with fuzzy down and perhaps feathers) likely do not. Try to put a nestling back into their nest with clean or gloved hands, or if that’s not possible, create a makeshift nest using an open box padded with tissue paper and leave it in a tree or as near to the nest as possible and watch from afar so as not to frighten the parents. If the bird continues to need help, call PETA India or a local animal protection group.
PETA India also urges everyone to keep dog companions indoors when temperatures are high. Never leave them inside parked cars, as they can quickly suffer from heatstroke, and place sturdy mud pots filled with water anywhere there are community animals or those forced to work.