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Bird Rescue News (December 2003)

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e-mail about found birds

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.

Bird Rescue News


First of all for this months newsletter I would like to say a few “thank you’s”. Narena, thank you so much for allowing me to be part of your website, and also for taking the trouble arranging my news letter each month. To the ladies that help look after the introduced birds, the two Margarets, and Pam thank you.

To those that have given help during the year, DOC staff in Whakatane, Whakatane Vet Centre, Whakatane District Council, Environment Bay of Plenty, Whakatane SPCA, Carter Holt Harvey Tissue, Norske Skog Tasman, Charter Boat Operators in Whakatane, Mike and Sue Coffey, The Whakatane Beacon and Radio 1XX, and the many others that have helped, thank you.

To the people that have sent e-mails asking for advice with birds, I hope I was able to help in some way.

Newly hatched

At the end of last month a tiny newly hatched pied stilt was found.  When I arrived to collect the bird it was nearly dead.  Please try to remember that young birds do need to be kept warm.  Even birds like ducklings and stilts if they are without their mother need warmth.  So the stilt was popped down my shirt and into my bra!  Instant warmth!  It started to revive going around the supermarket and started cheeping.

The chick weighed only 5g and was placed in the incubator.  It now weighs over 80g and is outside in an aviary. I am hoping in a couple of week’s time it will be able to be released at Ohiwa Harbour.
Newly hatched pied stilt
Newly hatched pied stilt

Looking after a little blue penguin

I am still looking after a little blue penguin that was found injured on the beach at Pikowai.  Both legs look liked they had been cut, and it also had an injury to its back and lost feathers.  As being waterproof is vital to penguins it may be some time before these are replace. 

I was running out of fish to feed this bird and had just begun buying some, when a charter boat skipper phoned to offer some off cuts from fish freshly caught.  Saved again!

First of grey-faced petrels

The first of the grey-faced petrels came in a few days ago and has now been released.  It was underweight so had a few days feeding of arrow squid. 

On Moutohora (Whale Island) there is a large colony of grey-faced petrels and every year from December through sometimes to February the fledglings get disorientated and instead of heading out to sea, head for the lights of town and factories.  Some birds have been found as far inland as Waimana and Ruatoki and at the paper mills in Kawerau. 

The petrels feed on bioluminescent squid etc and I wonder if this has any bearing on the birds heading for the bright lights of town. 

They leave their burrows after dusk or early in the morning before daylight.  The parents come back during the night to feed the young.  The one egg is white and laid the end of August or September. 

At one time the grey-faced petrel was taken for food (mutton-birds) but it is now protected in our area.

Also in care

Also in care a morepork that had hit a window, suffered head and neck injuries but has nearly recovered and is eating on its own.  It is now in an outside aviary and flying.  The morepork is eating mice and small chicken chicks.

Take note of signs on beaches and in parks

There will be many of you away during the next month and visiting beaches and parks etc, please take note of signs that say “no dogs”. Some of our reserves are now dog free and there are good reasons for this. 

In our area we have kiwi. A dog, with its strong sense of smell, could easily find and kill them, sometimes without the owner of the dog even knowing. 

The beaches may have penguins (little blue in the Bay of Plenty), these may be hiding under logs etc just above high water mark.  Also many beaches have nesting birds, again just above high water mark, birds like the New Zealand dotterel, variable oyster catcher and banded dotterel. 

So if you are on a beach that allows dogs, please keep it under control and with you at all times.  Check with the local Council for the bylaws pertaining to dogs on beaches.

Care in handling injured birds

If you find an injured bird please be careful handling it.

Some birds have a nasty bite. 

Throw a towel over the bird and then hold the back of its head (so you have control of the biting end), then lift the bird by supporting its body (and still holding it’s head) and place in a box. 

DO NOT put the bird in a bucket of water even if it is a seabird. 

Take the bird (first phone if you can) to your local bird rescue or SPCA centre.  If you cannot find a centre and the bird is native or endemic to New Zealand then your Department of Conservation should be informed. If you can give a donation to help with the care of the bird it would be appreciated, I am sure, by the rescue centres.

Rosemary Tully
Whakatane Bird Rescue, New Zealand 
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