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Bird Rescue News (NZ Spring 2007)

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If sending emails about birds that you have found, please give me the area you live in. This will make it easier for me to let you know of a nearby carer.

A few things to remember for the welfare of birds in care:

  • Not to stroke or pet the bird. This will remove the oils from the feathers and make it human friendly. This is not a good idea for a wild bird.
  • Not to keep the bird longer than is needed. Once the bird has reached its goal weight and is feeding, and has recovered from its injuries/sickness then it is time for release.
  • Not to get the bird use to dogs or cats. This will result in the bird thinking all cats and dogs are bird friendly —they are not. A dog that may lick and wash a bird in a friendly manner will remove oils, this is not good for the bird. The next dog it meets may well bite and the bird is killed.

General reminder:

  • Hungry hawks often feed off road kills and many get hit by cars. Again, if possible, slow down and give them a chance to escape. The blood of the animal they are feeding on is stuck to the road and as they try to fly off with their prey they can’t lift off.

Bird Rescue News

Busy year with travel

Well it is a long time since I wrote a newsletter for the website. It has been a very busy year with three months taken up by a trip to England. During this time (May till the beginning of August) Whakatane Bird Rescue was inactive.

Winter is usually a quiet for birds and apparently there were few problems for Doc staff to deal with in the way of birds.

Not long after getting home from the holiday I had a call from the SPCA in Whakatane. A bird of prey had been handed into them, found under a bush near the Whakatane District Council car park. An underweight falcon was duly delivered.

I sent photos of the bird to Debbie Steward at Wingspan Rotorua and she confirmed that it was a young male. The bird was kept quiet and given food which it devoured. Mice, and other small road kills etc were eagerly taken. After gaining weight the bird was released, but not before being banded.

This bird was seen feeding in the Rose Garden in Whakatane and phone calls and photos were sent in. It was really excited seeing how well it was doing. The local paper even managed to get a photo of it feeding on sparrows. This made the front page of the “Weekender” the free Saturday paper.

On my return from a short trip to Wellington, I found out that the falcon had again been in the SPCA care. This time it had flown into the Pizza Hut after chasing sparrows and one sparrow had flown into the shop. The inspector let the bird rest and released it later on in the day as no sign of injuries were found. A few weeks after this incident a Council inspector rang to say he had found a dead bird with a band on its leg outside the Council offices. It was the falcon. The bird had been dead a few days and may have flown into a Council window. The bird was taken over to Wingspan for Noel Hyde to check out what caused its death.

The bird was handed into Bird Rescue on the 28th August weighing 234g Released on the 5th September weighing 286g. Found dead on the 27th September. (A very good photo from Alan Haultain shows the falcon having lunch).

Whakatane falcon
photo by Alan Haultain

Birds in care

A few Tui were brought into care with suspected Rhododendron poisoning. These birds had been found near the Rhododendron bushes/shrubs. The first one for this season (23.8.07) was brought into care from the Department of Conservation in Opotiki. If caught in time the birds recover quickly after being kept warm and given an electrolyte to flush the system through. I use a crop needle for this and give the bird 2ml if possible (sometimes less). This is given every half an hour to start with then hourly. The birds cannot stand and need a towel wrapped around them for support. Most recover after a few hours in care and can be released the next day.

Massey University are collecting details of Tui found poisoned. If possible send samples of the Rhododendron to Maurice Alley c/o Massey University with details of date, area, and number of Tui affected etc. It would be even better if you know the name of the Rhododendron. Names of plants are quiet often lost due to people moving house and then never knowing the species name. Many of the Rhododendrons that cause the problems seem to be old bushes. I believe that some birds brought in by cats may have been on the ground through being poisoned.

On the 30th August a Weka was found with an injury to its right foot, this too came from the Opotiki area. There seemed to be a small hole in the top of its foot. A small operation removed some of the infection and a course of antibiotic was given. These birds never stand still when you go into the aviary to feed them. They run and hide which is fine until it is time to release the bird and you find the infection has travelled into the other leg and a swollen knee joint discovered. To date the swelling has gone down considerably, but another trip to the vets should determine if anymore antibiotics are needed, and when the bird can be released back to the wild.

A Kiwi was brought into care (17.10.07) from the Opotiki area with a lack of feathers. Sometimes the Kiwi can loose feathers if frightened. This was the case with “Lady (Godiva)”. She was being caught for a check up by Doc staff and shed her feathers. She has been in care a few weeks now and you can just see feather growth coming through. She was slightly underweight too. As she is one of a pair it is important she quickly regains her feathers and weight then go back with her mate.

Kiwi without feathers through fright Lady Godiva
Lady Godiva

A young spur-winged plover chick was also found abandoned, that came in weighing 60g on the 2nd of November and is now 102g. The parents are usually very good looking after their chicks so maybe they were frightened off and before they could return to care for the chick someone found it. Two hawks came into care, the first one soaking wet and found in a drain. This, after drying out, was raring to go the next day. It flew off towards the area it came from. It was a female weighing 750g. The same day as the hawk was released another hawk came in from the Ohope Hill. This had its wing smashed and bones sticking out. It was put out of its suffering.

Next project

The next project for Whakatane Bird Rescue is the building of new aviaries which hopefully will take place very soon. Both Bunning’s and Placemakers in Whakatane have donated some building materials and this with donations from the BirdsaPlenty festival avian art exhibition and another donation received in the last few days should see the project completed.
Well until the next time good birds watching and a big thank you to the team at

Rosemary Tully
Whakatane Bird Rescue, New Zealand
[email protected] 
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