03/13/2014 07:11 EDT | Updated 05/13/2014 05:59 EDT

Ducks, swans killed by brutal winter weather

The harsh winter weather has taken a heavy toll on the city’s ducks, swans and other birds — a disturbing number of which have been found dead, floating on the water or even stuck in the ice.

Toronto Animal Services says calls about dead birds are up 66 per cent this winter.

"This winter has been especially brutal on waterbirds because so much of the water has frozen," said NathalieKarvonen, executive director of the Toronto Wildlife Centre, a charity that helps care for area birds.

Georgian Bay — where a lot of birds spend the winter — has frozen over for the first time in 20 years, said Karvonen. Much of the Great Lakes have also frozen.

She says some of the birds migrate here from further north. Others are non-migratory and can normally survive a Toronto winter. But this year, many are starving to death.

The birds are "trying to make it through this incredibly difficult winter and they're finally just done. They're out of steam, they're emaciated, they really have no reserves to fight these temperatures or to really fight to find food," she said.

The full extent of the casualties will be known in the coming weeks when the ice and snow melts. If you see a dead bird, contact Animal Services at or 416-338-7297.