Raptors 'dropping from sky' during Arizona heatwave


Extreme heat in Arizona is causing large birds suffering from heatstroke to fall from the sky. 

With temperatures nearing 120°F in the western US state, as many as 20 birds have been treated daily by state raptor rescue agencies.

On Thursday 19 June, a state trooper stopped to examine a pile of what appeared to debris on Interstate 17 and realised it was a Golden Eagle, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported. The bird was delirious and unable to take flight.

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State raptor rescue agencies have saved as many as 20 large birds a day (Arizona Department of Public Safety).

The Golden Eagle was overheated and was not injured. It recovered after having some food and IV fluid, according to Wild At Heart, an Arizona-based raptor rescue organisation. "With 20 raptor intakes today, WAH had its busiest day of 2021 so far as this heat wave is really taking a toll on the young birds," the agency wrote on Facebook on Thursday.

The western US is experiencing one of the most intense heat waves ever, early in the season. Southern Arizona was under a 'excessive heat warning' last week owed to 'dangerously hot conditions' in the afternoons, according to the National Weather Service.

Excessive heat has caused some raptor species in the state to leave their nests too soon. They often end up on the ground and are not able to fly, according to the Tucson Audubon Society.