03/02/2015 06:06 EST | Updated 05/02/2015 05:59 EDT

Hard winter causing trouble for sea ducks

A Maritime wildlife rehabilitation centre is noticing a dramatic increase in the number of sea ducks and other water fowl that are being affected by this winter's high winds and heavy snowfall.

The Cobequid Rehabilitation Centre in Nova Scotia is receiving almost daily phone calls from people who are discovering injured birds, four times the usual number of winter-time calls.

At least three grounded ducks have been reported on Prince Edward Island.

Dr. Helene Van Doninck, a veterinarian founder of the Cobequid Rehabilitation Centre, said this winter's weather is creating dangerous or even lethal conditions for some birds.

"High winds and lot of precipitation is making some of these birds land in inappropriate places," said Van Doninck.

"A lot of them, depending on the species, can't walk or take off from land. So when they land anywhere that is not the water, then they are immediately in trouble."

A grounded sea bird that is is not injured needs to get to open water as soon as possible, she said. Otherwise the duck is in danger of freezing, being taken by a predator, or hit by a vehicle if it lands on a road.

Van Doninck said anyone who finds a grounded duck should contact a wildlife rehabilitation centre or government agency that deals with wildlife.