Baby eagles fleeing nests due to extreme heat in B.C., says rescue centre

Staff at the Mountainaire Avian Rescue Society (MARS) on Vancouver Island believe high temperatures are to blame for an influx of young eagles requiring care.

MARS staff say they're caring for 18 eagles right now -- 13 babies and five adults or juveniles – which is highly unusual for the summer season.

Staff believe that young eagles are leaving their nests before they're ready to fly in an effort to escape the heat.

"It's so hot where they are in their nests that they're just trying to leave early to balance out that temperature," said Kiersten Shyian, assistant manager of wildlife rehabilitation at MARS.

"It's crazy how many we're getting. They're leaving early because of the heat," she said.

The animal centre says they're also getting reports of baby eagles that have fallen from nests. Many appear dehydrated, skinny, and "covered in bugs" when they first come in. Most have their down feathers still, meaning they're roughly a month to a couple of months old.

Caregivers add that it's unusual to have an influx of eagles in the summer, because winter is typically their busiest month of the species.

'RAVENOUS APPETITES'

With nearly 20 eagles in its care, MARS says it struggled to find enough fish to feed them at first.

"A couple of days ago our fridges were pretty much empty because we were going through fish so fast," said Shyian. "Because feeding 18 eagles is a lot of food, and they have very ravenous appetites."

The animal centre then turned to social media to help stock its fridges. Since then, Shyian says the community response has been overwhelming.

Community members have been donating pounds of fish after the animal centre sent out the request, particularly for salmon, which are easy to puree for the baby eagles.

The response was so generous that staff are now asking for donors to wait for roughly two weeks so that the centre can go through its current supply.

"We're full at the moment but we're going through about 10 kilograms of fish a day," said Jo Stiles, an animal caregiver at MARS.

"So in another two to three weeks we'll be in the same spot," she said.

MARS staff say they're grateful for the contributions they've received so far.

"People have been so generous," said Stiles. "I've always found with this community, if we mention the word 'eagle,' people are right there to help."

Donations to MARS can be dropped off at 331 Williams Beach Rd. in Merville, though the rescue centre asks that you call them before making a donation at 778-428-1990.