Common Hazards Raptors Face in the Wild

It’s a dangerous world out there. Even though raptors are apex predators in their natural habitats, they are frequently victims of manmade catastrophes, and these hazards cause around 90% of the injuries we see at the Center.

Rodenticides
Rodenticides intended to kill a household pest will affect animals that depend on mice for their food, make them sick, and in time kill them.

Poor Water Management and West Nile Virus
In recent years, we have seen an increase in West Nile Virus in raptors. Poor water management that leads to increased mosquito populations, a carrier of the virus, and when birds arrive at the Center they are starving as a byproduct of the infection. Fishing line is almost invisible and extremely strong and is often left behind on the ground by fisherman. Some people even use fishing line as traps to prevent animals from getting into ponds or gardens, but fishing line traps are indiscriminate in who they trap and there are often unintended consequences bymutilating or even killing the bird.

Fishing Line Entrapment
One of the most common reasons for a bird to come into rehab is a collision with a car. Birds of prey have magnificent binocular vision but poor peripheral vision. Trash thrown from cars such as apple cores and banana peels attract small mammals to the sides of the road where they are easy targets for raptors searching for a quick meal. Birds hit by cars suffer typically from head trauma, but most also have broken bones that can be difficult to stabilize. Window strikes cause many of the same injuries though with a much milder impact.

Car and Window Collisions
One of the most common reasons for a bird to come into rehab is a collision with a car.
Birds of prey have magnificent binocular vision but poor peripheral vision. Trash
thrown from cars such as apple cores and banana peels attract small mammals to the
sides of the road where they are easy targets for raptors searching for a quick meal. Birds
hit by cars suffer typically from head trauma, but most also have broken bones that can be difficult to stabilize. Window strikes cause many of the same injuries though with a
much milder impact.

Habitat Loss
Habitat destruction doesn’t have to be dramatic; it can be as simple as cutting down
a single tree. Raptors are adaptable, but only to a certain point. Several species,
particularly owls, are dependent on dead or decaying trees for nesting.

There are simple things you can do to help:
• Use natural or non-toxic methods for pest and rodent control.
• Dispose of trash appropriately (NOT out your car window!).
• Remove trees in the fall, when all species have finished nesting.
• Cut up fishing line and six-pack rings and dispose of properly.
• Choose stainless steel / copper shot if you hunt.
• Don’t use lead sinkers in fishing.
• Place screens or stickers on windows to prevent window strikes.
• Support conservation efforts to preserve the environment and educate the public.
• Remove trees in the fall, when all species have finished nesting.
• Cut up fishing line and dispose of properly.
• Cut up 6-pack rings before disposal.
• Choose stainless steel/copper shot if you hunt.
• Don’t use lead sinkers in fishing.
By Annette P.