While many local residents are still rebuilding and re-calibrating after this month’s historic flooding here in the Ottawa area, much of our wildlife has also been displaced by the sudden change of the landscape. As waters rise and run into places that did not previously have water, the animals, birds, and insects are forced with quick decision making, and in some unfortunate cases, do not make it out alive.
As flooding is nothing new to us here in North America, as many regions see the problem annually, it continues to wreak havoc on communities, people, and the natural world each time the water levels rise.
With increased precipitation accumulating over the years, the Great Lakes for example, currently sit at extremely high levels. As climate change works to warm these large bodies of waters and evaporate water, the adverse effect of heavier rainfall that we typically are used to, causes these large lake’s water levels to swell during spring months as we are currently experiencing.
The unfortunate reality of the latest flooding here in Ottawa, at least for our birds, is that it really couldn’t have come at a worse time.
As many of us know, this is a busy season for our birds and a season in which many of us simply love to be outdoors enjoying all that mother nature has to offer. When it comes to our birds, however, it is a vital time of the year as they work diligently to attract mates, build nests and raise a brood of young chicks.
Perhaps the most harmful side effect of flooding for our birds is the loss of their nests and in many cases, unhatched eggs. As we head into the middle of May, the majority of bird species are on the brink of having their eggs hatch, if they hadn’t already.
As many of us can imagine, the nests of ground nesting birds such as game birds, shore birds and waterfowl in areas that had been flooded over the past couple of weeks were likely washed away. While the parents were likely to have safely escaped to higher ground, we inevitably lost a great deal of the new generation of birds here in the Ottawa area.
Natural disasters such as flooding are undoubtedly a part of our natural world and one that all species (including us) must deal with and overcome, the sheer timing of this recent disaster was one that unfortunately took many unborn and young casualties from the bird world.