Birds in a heat wave
We are having a record breaking heat wave at present here in South Australia.
Today is the fourteenth consecutive day of above 35C (95F) maximum temperatures. One expects temperatures like this in summer – December through February – but not once autumn has arrived. The previous record of eight consecutive days of above 35C recorded in our capital city Adelaide in 1934 has well and truly been broken. The national record for a capital city was Perth at ten consecutive days in 1988 and that has been beaten thoroughly too. More is still to come; the next cool change is not expected to be here until Wednesday, so this record will be further extended over the next two days.
We normally get some relief in the evenings here in Murray Bridge. Not so this time. Thursday morning we arose at 6am to go for our daily walk. Normally at this time of the year it would be about 15-18C at that time of the day. At 30C with a hot north wind it was very uncomfortable. It is the first time I can ever remember putting on the air conditioner so that we could eat breakfast in some kind of comfort!
Naturally the birds suffer terribly in such oppressive heat. I have tried to keep the bird baths topped up with water each morning so that some of them have a fighting chance at survival. From first light until mid-morning there is a constant stream of birds coming to drink and/or bathe. From mid-morning to sun down there is very little calling and little movement in the garden. I guess they just find the coolest shade possible and rest up until conditions improve. At one stage I checked the temperature at about midday; the only bird I saw or heard was a Willie Wagtail bravely trying to catch a few insects silly enough to venture out on such a hot day.