Baby woodpeckers orphaned by tornado rescued

Two pileated woodpecker nestlings that survived Sunday's tornado in Orléans were rescued and are now in the care of the city's Wild Bird Care Centre.

2 nestlings recovering at Wild Bird Care Centre

These two pileated woodpeckers were orphaned by Sunday's tornado in Ottawa's Orléans neighbourhood. (Wild Bird Care Centre)

Many trees were destroyed when a tornado ripped through the east Ottawa suburb of Orléans on Sunday — some of which were home to wildlife.

Nearly 24 hours after the storm passed, a volunteer was clearing debris from a neighbour's yard near Petrie Island on Monday when she spotted an adult female pileated woodpecker that had been crushed and killed by a fallen tree.

Then, the volunteer heard a pair of woodpecker nestlings calling for their parents.

The two of them had survived the tornado. They were removed from their nest in a hollowed-out cavity of the fallen tree and cared for until the volunteer called Ottawa's Wild Bird Care Centre to pick them up.

The centre's director, Lee Roy, drove out to Orléans to pick up the nestlings from the volunteer late Monday night, and took them to the centre Tuesday morning.

"The nestling orphans are vocal and fortunately they don't appear to be injured," she was quoted saying in a news release.

"They will remain at the Wild Bird Care Centre until they are able to fly and find food on their own, possibly six to eight weeks. During that time, they are going to eat a lot of bugs."

Roy added it's unlikely that the surviving male pileated woodpecker — assuming it did survive — would return to the destroyed nest site, and that if it did, it likely wouldn't be able to meet the feeding demands of the nestlings on its own.


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