For most of us, this week’s record heat was mostly a matter of discomfort. For some – it was deadly. At least two people lost their lives in King County. And there was a wildlife toll. We’ve learned that on a rooftop near the Duwamish River – the heat killed more than 100 baby birds, Caspian Terns and Gulls. The report comes from West Seattle wildlife advocate Kersti Muul of Salish Wildlife Watch.
Even if you don’t know Caspian Terns on sight, you’ve probably heard them – they have a distinctive guttural call that resounds as they fly over the peninsula to the nesting spot where an overheated roof led to the chicks’ deaths. The spot is atop a vacant building on Port of Seattle property on the eastern shore of the Duwamish River. Kersti explains, “This colony is a fragment of a very large colony that was dispersed from Destruction Island [off the Olympic Peninsula coast]. They took up residence here because the cement factory puts out dust that they look at as ‘sand’ and it’s by a river, etc.” But the roof got so hot, they either overheated or else died trying to fly/jump off it.
Kersti’s been involved in rescue efforts for three days now. She says some have been saved and taken to PAWS – the regional wildlife rehab center – but some had to be euthanized, and some died on the way. “It is a very sad scene.” She is raising money for PAWS to handle this and other rescues – you can donate here or via PAWS’ website.