HOWELL (WWJ) – How cold is it? Even too cold for some birds that fare well in Alaska.
Director of the Howell Nature Center, Dana DeBenham, says two bald eagles are among the horde of animals the center has been forced to take in out of the cold.
“Their energy sources are depleted,” said Debenham. “Unfortunately, they’re on a diet of mice, rats and fish and their food is freezing.”
Debenham said that the center has a shelter to protect the eagles from the wind but they are nervous birds and haven’t wanted to go in there.
“I don’t think I have had to move those two eagles ever. Occasionally we’ve had a really cold night here and there and they can handle that. It’s just that this has been so extended for two straight weeks.”
Debenhem brought in the eagles after noting signs of distress. “If I see an animal that’s puffing up, that’s usually a typical sign that they’re distressed from the cold. Puffing up or shivering, I’m going to move them to a better location.
The shelter is getting crowded, said Debenham. “We even brought in some of our rabbits, our ferrets, barn owls, short-eared owls, broad-winged hawks.”
The infirmary is getting crowded, too treating cold-related animal injuries. The most affected are opossum, animals that Debeham said have no fur on their tails or ears and “suffer horribly” in the winter.
“They can eat just about anything. But when the snow is very deep, it’s very difficult for them to find anything to eat. They come into our rehab clinic with frostbite, and emaciated.
One animal though, is just loving this arctic chill.
“The one animal that I have that is absolutely in her glory with this horrible weather is my snowy owl. She’s happy as a clam.”