Portland Audubon ‘busiest in over 30 years’ amid heatwave


More than 350 animals were taken to the care center for treatment during the record-high heat

A red-shouldered hawk at the Portland Audubon. (Portland Audubon)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The record heat that swept through the Portland area took a heavy toll on wildlife.

The Portland Audubon said Thursday that the past several days marked the busiest they’ve been in over 30 years of record keeping with more than 350 animals being brought in for treatment. -That’s roughly 9% of the total number of patients Portland Audubon typically sees in a year.

Bob Sallinger, the director of conservation at the Portland Audubon, said the heat caused resulted in many young birds leaving their nests early. He said young Cooper’s hawks were hit particularly hard by the searing temperatures — 75 arrived at the care center within just a couple of days — but experts aren’t exactly sure why.

“They nest fairly high up in trees in open nests but they also tend to be in the foliage so I am not sure that they would have faced more exposure than other raptor species,” Sallinger said. “The ones we saw were mostly relatively close to being able to fly. This is a time when the nest starts to get kind of crowded and when they become more active. The heat combined with the stage of development combined may have created a perfect storm. It is a really interesting research question that we will be pursuing.”

Sallinger said it’s not uncommon for young birds to leave the nest before they can fly and their parents will continue caring for them on the ground until they’re able to take flight.

This means that a young bird on the ground doesn’t need help unless it’s clearly injured, Sallinger said. Leaving it alone so that its parents can do their jobs gives the bird its best chance of survival, even during a heatwave.

With the overwhelming number of patients in its care, the Portland Audubon is in need of financial support. Donations can be made online.

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