One of the most vulnerable victims of last week's heat wave might surprise you. According to officials with Flint Creek Rehabilitation services, based in Barrington, it was the wildlife who also suffered.
This became glaringly obvious when their volunteers, who rescue injured or orphaned wildlife, discovered nestling terns, a seabird type of gull, jumping off a roof because of the severe heat.
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By the end of last week, they had rescued 69 of the terns from a large community, but 100 of them were already dead.
"These are underdeveloped nestlings, whose flight feathers haven't developed yet," says Dawn Keller of Flint Creek Rehabilitation. "They're not even fledglings yet.
"It's the first time I've ever seen this," she adds, "but we're working every day to get them to safety."
Keller says the baby terns' desperate measures are part of a larger problem for all wildlife, who cannot cool their body temperatures in such extreme heat and cannot hunt enough to feed their young.
After rescuing the terns, they were brought first to Northerly Island, where Flint Creek Rehabilitation operates the only wildlife rehabilitation center in the city.
"It's basically a 24-hour triage center," Keller says. "Animals rescued in Chicago are transported to Barrington the next day."
Typically, the rehabilitation center located along Flint Creek in Barrington is treating 200 animals at any one time, and 3,400 per year.
Rescued wildlife usually includes birds of prey such as owls, hawks and falcons, as well as foxes, squirrels, deer, rabbits and songbirds. But currently, Keller says, their census includes up to 85 percent ducklings and terns.
At the center, they are kept in large cages, where the temperature is controlled, and where they are cooled with industrial-sized fans and misting. Volunteers check them regularly and they also receive medical care, as needed.
They have up to 100 volunteers they can call on to help care for the animals in Barrington, but for the rescue effort for the terns, they are depending on four to five people to help rescue the jumpers.
To find out more about Flint Creek Rehabilitation and the many ways to volunteer or support their efforts, visit: www.flintcreekwildlife.org.