Local Weather Events

Anthony Byrne, QLD Australia

Times of India, hailstorm
Times of India, local thunderstorm


Psittacines, because they roost in large numbers, are often victims of severe storms, hailstones, lightning strikes, and floods. These are rare events but usually result in dozens, if not hundreds, of casualties. Birds usually have severe or fatal blunt trauma from falling objects or from falling. Lightning may cause internal charring, instantaneous death, or noticeably severe burns. Those which survive are subject to hypo- or hyperthermia. Food sources may be obliterated.

Near-drowning is usually the result of flooding, downpours, or drought/heat plus treacherous water resources (such as steep sided ponds or swimming pools). Known nest cavities should be checked for flooding.

Dust storms may result in flock suffocation. Survivors may be subjected to primary respiratory foreign body-pneumonia/silicosis, secondary infections, incapacity, impaired fitness for flight and feeding.

Temporary "cold snaps", "heatwaves" or unseasonal cold/hot weather may result in local population impact on a disastrous scale.

Since many urban psittacines are outside their normal geographic range, especially the populations in temperate Europe and North America, they may suffer from normal or abnormal weather events. Psittacines within their geographical ranges can suffer from extreme weather events which may affect adults and young. Nestlings and fledglings often exit an over-exposed nest early if it is overheated, or may be at risk in cold snaps.

An unusual and rare event: Kakapo killed in landslide

What to Expect

  • mass mortality and morbidity

  • large numbers and entire flocks

  • severe trauma

  • hypo- or hyperthermia

  • frostbite

  • electrical shock injuries and burns

What to Do

  • Capture and contain injured birds

  • Trauma triage may be necessary to select the birds most likely to survive

  • keep them in a warm, dry, safe and secure environment

  • do not force water or food

  • warm water can be gently dropped along the tomia (edges of upper and lower beak) to encourage normal licking and swallowing

  • once water is accepted, warm sugar water (1:4 sugar to warm water) can be alternated

  • do not offer free-access water until they are able to regain normal posture

  • offer food only after they are hydrated

  • contact appropriate rescue if/when possible ASAP

  • minimal handling and refrain from :staring at them all the time"

  • visual or audible contact with other birds is desirable

  • ambulant and non-aggressive birds may do better in small groups (5 or less)

Likely Outcomes

  • severe injury and hypothermia generally do not lead to good outcomes

  • many birds will have fatal injuries

  • expect a high mortality rate on birds that are found down on the ground and docile

  • some extensively traumatized birds will survive

  • head injuries can recover given time and supportive care

Remote feed and water stations can be set up in burnt areas to help wildfire survivors.

Emergency housing

Emergency Care

Remote feed and water stations

Decision Trees and Flowcharts