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Bird Rescue News (March/April 2004)

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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.

Bird Rescue News

Good month for releasing birds

March has been a good month for releasing birds.  One little blue penguin that has been in care since last November was released near Whale Island on the 20th.  This bird was brought into bird rescue after being found on a beach at Pikowai (near Matata).  It had cuts across both legs and back injuries.  Because the penguin had lost feathers on its back I had to wait for it to come into the moult before new feathers would grow.

The penguin’s weight was only 545g and this had to reach over the 1kg before the moult began.  Most adult little blue penguins moult after the breeding season, and they have put on weight. When moulting the penguin cannot go back to sea, as it is not waterproof so for up to three weeks the penguin goes without food and relies on its fat reserves.

Another little blue penguin was released at West End Ohope; this juvenile was only 350g and most at this size die.  I have found the by using slippery elm powder on birds that are down in weight and may have internal bleeding some do pull through.  This bird was 900g when released.

A native pigeon came in under weight and with wing injuries; this too recovered and was released at Otarawairere.

Botulism symptoms

Two hawks both male and with symptoms of botulism both recovered and after gaining weight were released.

Birds feeding on maggots from anything that has died/dying of botulism can pick up botulism.  So when a New Zealand dotterel and variable oystercatcher came in with the botulism symptoms I was extremely worried.  Both birds were found at the spit opposite the Whakatane Heads. (Where the Whakatane River meets the sea).  Also nearby were dead mussels.

Other dead birds were in the area. The person reporting the oystercatcher spoke of seeing another dead New Zealand Dotterel and a dead oystercatcher.  It is very important for any dead birds to be buried to stop the botulism spreading.  Take a note of any bands on birds and report them to the banding officer (see this website).

Both the dotterel and the oystercatcher were released, the dotterel on Whale Island (Moutohora) and the oystercatcher at Ohiwa Harbour.  Unfortunately another variable oystercatcher brought in from the same area died.

Gannet chick update

The two gannet chicks brought in the beginning of February were released on the 21st March at White Island (there were three but one died).   These chicks were found after banding operations on White Island away from the colony.  They weighed 1.1kg and 1.3kg and had been without food for a few days. Release weight was 3.150kg and 3.2kg. One gannet chick was brought in the day before the three and that had a broken wing and was put down. It was found in the water and only weighed 1.6kg. The gannet that died was 1.6kg.
Gannet chicks
Gannet chicks

It has concerned some of the charter boat operators for many years now that banding disturbs the gannet chicks.  Chicks that have not reached fledging weights/plumage have been found in the water after banding and die. It would be good to have a break from banding next year to see if the problem is the banding or a natural occurrence.  It would also be interesting to find out what benefit it is to band birds for over 40 years, what papers have been written and what banding returns have been sent in from these White Island birds.

All sorts of help

Having a large number of fish eating birds creates the problem of finding enough food for them.  The gannet chicks were eating 500g of fish per day each. The penguins too were taking up to 250g each a day. 

I was very lucky to have the help of our fishing charter boats who supplied fish, also Sanfords Seafood’s of Tauranga.  Sanfords gave (and have given in the past) a few boxes of fish.  It is very much appreciated. Children and fishermen also sent fish as well as the local “Iceman”.

Edgecumbe Vets gave support when one of the gannets was sick as well as Liza Schneider a Holistic Vet from Tauranga.  I was lucky to be able to go out with White Island Tours for the release on white Island, Once again thanks to all involved.

At last I have a helper (well two for a short time) for the native and endemic birds. Glennis can come and help in the mornings and Jenny maybe able to help in the afternoons.  Jenny starts a job at Hamilton Zoo in June.  I am lucky to have a couple of ladies who look after the introduced birds and ducklings, which saves me a lot of time.

Whakatane Bird Rescue Weekend

Date: 7 & 8 August 2004
Venue: Apanui School, McAlister Street, Whakatane
Agenda: Saturday
8:30am Registration Tea/Coffee
9:00am Opening by?  followed by introductions of speakers and attendees
9:30 – 10.30 Rosemary Tully Birds from the freezer!  A collection of birds that did not make it, handling and crop feeding etc
10:45am Brett Gartrell Occupational Health and Safety for wildlife rehabbers (zoonosis and injuries) + question time
Midday Lunch taken to Rosemary’s for a look around the new Bird Rescue Room
1:00pm Claire Travers Kiwi Care/handling/feeding/housing + question time
3:15pm Rosalie Goldsworthy  Penguins and other seabirds? Care/handling/feeding/housing  + question time
5:15pm Close
7:00pm Dinner in the evening
Agenda: Sunday
9:00am Richard Norman Oil Spills and looking after oiled birds, cleaning, etc. + question time
10:15am Dawne Morton Raptors, Care/Handling/feeding/ housing + question time
1:00pm Richard Norman... Flipper, Fluke, Fin,and Fur marine mammals + question time
2:00pm Brett Gartrell. Trying to avoid Imprinting of hand raised birds and case studies in critical care + question time
3:15pm Clare Green and Kerri Morgan talking on ? followed by Question Time Round up. Concerns of individual rescuers 
  • I have taken out the tea and coffee breaks.
  • Awaiting confirmation on two of the speakers.
  • Please email me if you wish to attend, as we will only have a limited number of seats available.
  • $80 for the weekend.   Does not include...lunches, dinners or accommodation

Rosemary Tully
Whakatane Bird Rescue, New Zealand 
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