Wild Bird Care Centre cares for tornado orphans

OTTAWA – Tornados aren’t just devastating to the humans whose lives a twister turns upside down – it can cause harm to the wildlife as well.

“The June 2 tornado was tragic and devastating for many people, but the tornado took down more than just trees,” Wild Bird Care Centre director and wildlife biologist Lee Roy said “ It also took down the lives of Pileated Woodpeckers nesting in a tree that was downed by the tornado.”

Two Pileated Woodpecker nestlings survived and were discovered by a volunteer helping neighbours to clear away fallen trees. 

One of the trees ripped in half by the tornado held the nest of a family of Pileated Woodpeckers. While helping to remove debris from a neighbour’s yard a volunteer spotted an adult woodpecker that had been crushed by the fallen tree and had succumbed to injuries.

The nestlings could be heard calling for their parents to bring them food and were quickly excavated from the nest cavity. The orphaned birds were taken to the Wild Bird Care Centre for care.

Roy said “the nestling orphans are vocal and fortunately they don’t appear to be injured.”

They will remain at the Wild Bird Care Centre till they are able to fly and find food on their own, possibly six to eight weeks.

“During that time, they are going to eat a lot of bugs,” Roy said. “If it wasn’t for the Wild Bird Care Centre, they would have nowhere to go and would certainly die. Now they have a chance.”

Pileated Woodpeckers require large sections of mature forest, and use dead or decaying trees for nesting, roosting and feeding. Mating for life, these woodpeckers primarily eat insects, including carpenter ants (a favorite), along with mosquitoes, moths, ground ants, beetles and supplement their diet with a small amount of fruit and nuts.

The Wild Bird Care Centre recently launched a fundraising campaign as they plan to build a new centre in West Carleton.