While humans grappled with uprooted trees, torn roofs and power outages after a thunderstorm pummeled the West suburbs on July 1, Willowbrook Wildlife Center in Glen Ellyn saw an influx of about 160 animals coping with injuries or abandonment.
DuPage County in particular was hit by winds that reached up to 82 mph and quarter-sized hail. As a result, Willowbrook took in about 160 animals after the Sunday storm, officials said.
The center treats and rehabilitates injured animals with the goal of rereleasing them into the wild. Wildlife specialist Rose Augustine said some staff members had to work overtime to help all the animals, while the non-animal care staff did such extra chores as dishes and laundry.
"We definitely had to hustle," Augustine said.
Songbird nests sustained the most damage, while the center also saw numerous fledgling robins, expected because they are common birds. The center also rescued many finches, sparrows, Cooper's hawks and even a few baby squirrels.
Some animals must be incubated because they were orphaned. Others need time to heal injuries like broken wings so they are not overly vulnerable to predators.
Augustine said birds were the primary storm victims because there are few babies left in most other mammals' nests at this point in the year.
The latest blow comes in a summer already tough on wildlife.
"It's been pretty rough overall due to the drought," Augustine said, "Water sources are not abundant, and the drought affects grown plants some animals need for food."
Now, almost two weeks after the storm, many animals both at Willowbrook and in the wild are getting settled back into their natural habitats. Augustine said any residents who see fledgling birds and worry they are still abandoned should call Willowbrook before interfering, because they may be fine.
"Often," he said, "Mom is still taking care of them so sometimes it is best to leave them alone."