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Bird Rescue News (NZ Summer 2006)

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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

Moving house -- literally

Here we are in a new year and the height of summer. Many changes have taken place since the winter newsletter. Whakatane Bird Rescue is on hold; we have sold our house and have not been able to find something that we like.

The bird rescue first aid room, that houses the really sick birds, has been transported from Otarawairere Road in Whakatane to a friend’s farm waiting for relocation when we find a home. This was by no means an easy task. Our home was set on a hill with a steep driveway and the bird room was on poles. Straps holding the room on the poles had to be taken off, power and water disconnected, and excavation around poles and the drainage barrel. Raymond, my husband, was set to work digging while Mike, the builder and friend, manoeuvred the lorry under the base of the room. Many hours later the room was on the truck and off it went to Mike’s farm. The following day we, too, moved out of our home of nearly 25 years.

Moving the bird hospital
Moving the bird hospital

Last year’s statistics (minus one month)

As we moved home at the beginning December, yearly statistics for birds brought into care cover only 11 months plus a few days.

This last year was very quiet for bird rescue, which is good for the birds and me. Even after storms not many, if any seabirds, were brought into care. A few birds needed time to re–grow feathers when coming in with injured wings. The more unusual birds were a Kiwi, a Weka and a baby bellbird (fallen from a nest).

In total 139 birds were handed into care:
5 were dead on arrival
43 died
37 put down
54 recovered

Baby bellbird, released
Baby bellbird, released


Traps are still catching Kiwi in the wild. Perhaps it is time for a renewed public awareness program to highlight the problem and proper setting of possum traps? The Kiwi that I had in care lost its leg to a trap and was placed in Fairy Springs Kiwi House in Rotorua.

Grey–faced petrels

Although I am not active in Bird Rescue at the moment our SPCA are keeping me up to date with any birds they have coming into care. At present it is the time in Whakatane that the grey–faced petrels get disorientated and end up in town or areas of high night lights (like the mills of Kawerau and Whakatane). Most of these birds can be released in the evening if their condition is good.


Please if you do find sick penguins on the beach keep dogs away from them. I just saw a new program on Television, one with a dog very near a penguin. This is not good for the penguin because the penguin may loose its fear of dogs. Even if your dog doesn’t kill the bird someone else’s dog may.

Young penguins are sometimes found after fledging. The parents stop feeding the birds when they think the chick is big enough to fledge. It then has to find its own way to the sea and starts feeding on its own. It is survival of the fittest.

Botulism risk

With the warm weather also comes the risk of botulism. Birds, especially seagulls, feast on rotten food at dump sites. They can then get botulism. Any other birds then feeding on the maggots that are laid on the dead birds will also get the disease. Likewise ducks can also pick up the disease from overheated lakes that harbour a strain of botulism in the muddy bottom. And the same thing happens, anything eating the duck or maggots will contract botulism. Dead birds must be buried to stop the chain of events. Some birds can be saved if found soon enough. Take sick birds to your nearest bird rescue centre.


My thanks go to those that contribute to helping Whakatane Bird Rescue, from vets who give their services free, people donating food and funding, Glennis and Tansy who help with the birds and Narena and Jaclyn for allowing space on the website for bird rescue matters. Also our local SPCA, DOC and Forest and Bird Society.

Rosemary Tully
Whakatane Bird Rescue, New Zealand 
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