Carolina Waterfowl holds up after second round of ice, snow
The second time through was easier for Carolina Waterfowl Rescue. Working daily, volunteers were able to brace the nonprofit’s nets and aviary Monday, Jan. 10, building a support structure to prevent another collapse as winter weather hit the area for a second time in recent weeks.
“After the last storm, we braced cage walls with wire and stakes,” volunteer Sandy Bush said. “Some generous Matthews residents donated PVC pipe, and we were able to re-enforce the structure.”
Unfinished construction projects in the outside cages did suffer from the ice and snow, but most of the damage this time came from furry intruders looking for a quick meal.
“We had some friendly raccoons visiting” Monday night, Bush said of the nonprofit’s Indian Trail location at 220 Garmon Road. The animals tore holes to get inside the aviary. However, volunteers had moved the birds into the facility’s barn for the night, so visitors left empty-handed.
“All aviaries were covered in ice this morning, and there were several very large holes in the netting from predators that were repaired today,” facility director Jennifer Gordon said on Tuesday. “The aviaries and cage walls held, the extra braces added to the cage walls after the last storm did their work (Monday) night.”
The snow in the area Christmas night weighed down the facility’s netting, causing it to collapse and injuring several animals. Holes in the netting are no more than 2 inches in diameter, to prevent predators like red-tailed hawks from swooping down and grabbing a bird perched near the top. In addition to re-enforcing the structure, volunteers built additional stalls in the barn.
“All aviaries survived this latest snow and ice storm, although some construction projects in several of the cages were damaged. But (they) can be re-built,” Gordon said.
The biggest issue at the moment, Gordon said, is a lack of hay bales for the birds to use as they wait out the cold in the barn.
“With all the birds staying inside at night, we are using a lot more straw bales than normal,” Gordon said.
The organization finds itself juggling the rebuilding project and continuing rescue operations as the cold weather drives birds out of their normal habitats. Someone brought in a barred owl Monday night and a mallard duck and Canada goose have made their way to the operation’s doorstep.
This week’s weather poses the biggest threat to birds like blue herons and swans that find their ponds and lakes iced over. With no access to food, the birds start wandering the surrounding area.
“We tend to see more accidents this time of year, as birds walk into the roads searching for food,” Bush said.
Bush encouraged people who see birds such as owls or herons walking around to e-mail the operation, so they can catch the animals before they freeze.
Donations also have been slow in coming. On a good month, Carolina Waterfowl gets less than $900 in donations, not enough to cover the $1,000 rent. Add in $250 in utility bills and the cost of repairs, and things get dicey.
Want to help?
Carolina Waterfowl rescue needs volunteers. For more information or to help, visit www.carolinawaterfowlrescue.com or call 704-668-9486.