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Bird Rescue News (Autumn 2009)

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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.

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

Welcome to a New Year

Last year, 2008, was a really quiet year for Whakatane Bird Rescue, which I think is good for the birds. Only 134 birds for the year.

» Ten birds came in with symptoms of botulism; these included a bittern and white faced heron as well as ducks.
» Birds ranging from native pigeons, ducks, hawks, pheasants were hit by cars/lorries.
» Windows accounted for some native pigeons, a long-tailed cuckoo and Tui.
» Only one Tui had symptons of Rhododendron poisoning; this recovered after 6 days in care and was released.

Remember there are bird studies going on

The Tui that come into care are banded before release and as yet I have not had any birds back that have been banded. I was wondering if after getting sick on the Rhododendron nectar they would remember the affects the flowers/nectar had on them.

Something to remember when getting the more unusual birds, like a long-tailed cuckoo for example, is that many people are doing studies on birds. They welcome hearing from us.

When a long-tailed cuckoo arrived into care last year, I found a Massey student who was studying cuckoos. Once it (the cuckoo) recovered it was banded, including colour banding. Lots of photos were taken both in the aviary and at time of release. This provided the Massey student with much appreciated data.

It was a shame I could not find anyone doing studies of the bittern as this too would have been a good subject to follow. However this was banded too.

Perhaps it would be a good idea for students to remember bird rescue centres when doing their research into birds of New Zealand.

I would love to have some of the birds that are released with a tracking tag so we could see where the birds go. I realize that the cost prohibits this, but we can dream.


With the Weka becoming more common in the Opotiki district I am getting a few each year. Last year one that came in was found on the edge of the road, standing but not moving. It was still in the same place the following day and I suspect it had been either hit by a car or maybe caught by a dog. There was a mark on its back and it seemed to have an injury to the spine area.

After rest and a few weeks care it was released back to the wild in Opotiki.

As with Kiwi it is vital not to let your dogs roam off your property, it only takes a grab from the dog and the kiwi/weka can be killed or injured. Even some rural sectors have Kiwi and Weka visiting their farms and lifestyle blocks. Which makes keeping your dogs with you at all times, or chained up if you know these birds are about.

Massey Wildlife Department

I would like to thank the staff at Massey Wildlife Department for there care and dedication to the wild birds of New Zealand. It is great to have such help at hand.


The outcome was not good for the dabchick and the bird had to be euthanized.

The longest bird in care was 62 days. This was a young morepork. Forestry found two baby chicks (moreporks) after cutting trees in a forest above Taneatua.

The chicks thrived and were moved to an aviary as soon as they could fly. Food was left for them and the birds continued to grow. The less contact with humans the better for the birds.

One bird was released on the 61st day and the other the next day. Food was left out for the birds on top of the aviary. Both birds were banded.

I had a report a few months later of a banded morepork being in a barn a few kilometres away across the Whakatane River, so it was good to know that at least one bird had survived and was catching food on its own.

The start of this year brought with it the yearly occurrence of the fledgling grey-faced petrels. This birds when leaving their burrows head for the lights of town instead of out to sea. Not too many birds this year, maybe because the weather was calm for most of their fledgling season. Photo: Grey-faced petrel in care
Grey-faced petrel

Another good thing was that the usual influx of ducks with botulism did not occur. Even though we had a hot summer we did get rain on average every couple of weeks, some of this being heavy rain so it may have kept the lakes cooler.

Presently in care

Photo: New Zealand Falcon in care
NZ falcon presently in care

» A duck with maybe poisoning, similar symptoms to botulism but just sitting and not moving about and head erect.
» A pheasant (female) hit by a car, also resting.
» A New Zealand falcon came in yesterday unable to stand. I would think this has hit a window. It is in an incubator at present but is eating food (mice and ox heart).

Photo: Young female pheasant in care
young female pheasant

And finally

I noticed that the parapara tree is in seed in Whakatane, if you have this in your garden please snip the seeds off the plant as this catches the small birds. Hence its name of bird catcher tree. The seeds are really sticky and not only small birds get caught but the larger birds such as morepork and kingfisher also get trapped when going after the smaller birds.

Photo: Whakatane Beacon
parapara plant with dead birds

parapara plant
Thanks to the team for their help with this newsletter and the Bird Rescue Website.

Rosemary Tully
Whakatane Bird Rescue, New Zealand 
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