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  • 1. Perth Raptor Care W.A. Bird Rescue Guide Perth Raptor Care W.A. Bird Rescue Guide Marra Apgar (B.Sc.Biol.) Raptor Presentations www.raptor.id.au ©Marra Apgar www.raptor.id.au
  • 2. Perth Raptor Care W.A. Bird Rescue Guide Why you need to know this Every year the Wildcare Helpline referral service (based in Perth,,Western Australia and covering all WA) gets well over 2,000 calls about birds. Hundreds of other callers get in touch with a wildlife rehabilitator through some other channel. There are also unknown hundreds of other birds that never get the help they need. I hear their stories ‒ often with tragic endings ‒ when I am talking with people and doing my conservation education work. If you find a human being lying on the side of the road bleeding and unconscious, you don't even have to think about what to do: you call for an ambulance. If you find a dog or a cat in similar distress, obviously you need to get it to a vet. Even if you see a horse or a sheep limping around, you'd know straight away that the RSPCA is a good place to get help. Q: But what do you do if you find a wild animal in distress? A: Get it to an experienced wildlife rehabilitator. A lot of people take them home and keep them. This is because, first, they don't know who will help, and second, the animal may not seem that distressed. The third reason is that wild animals are fascinating things, and an opportunity to see such an animal ‒ even feel it ‒ is a rare and special occasion. In the majority of cases, the “we can take care of it” animal dies. Wild animals usually need urgent medical attention as well as specialised diets and housing. Even healthy wild birds will die when not taken to someone knowledgeable about their care, especially baby birds. To find a wildlife rehabilitator call the Wildcare Helpline on 9474 9055 A trained Dept. of Environment and Conservation volunteer will check the State-wide directory and give you contact details for registered wildlife rehabilitation who can advise you and provide care for the animal you have found. Wildlife rehabilitators are volunteers. They may not be able to come to you, or they may not be able to get there straight away. If you are a long way from any rehabilitators, they may not be able to get there at all. Being able to capture a bird yourself is a very useful skill. Now that you know who to call, the rehabilitator can advise you on what to do and how to transport the bird. As a rehabilitator in Perth, I often get birds that are flown down from remote areas and mine sites for treatment. If there aren't any flights, they often arrive safely after a ride down with a helpful truckie. They are sent back out there when they are ready for release. ©Marra Apgar www.raptor.id.au
  • 3. Perth Raptor Care W.A. Bird Rescue Guide Does it really need to be rescued? Not all wild animals you come into contact with will need help. Here are a couple of examples that people regularly report: An owl seen sitting in the same tree in your back yard for several days running is probably ● leaving every night to go catch food. Check after dark to see if it is still there. A young magpie sitting on your front lawn calling is waiting for a parent or auntie to bring ● food. Watch to see if it gets fed. In some situations you may need to help, but won't need to take the bird to a rehabilitator. Here are a couple of examples: A baby bird with stubby wings is on the ground below a nest. Pick it up and put it back in ● the nest (or rescue it temporarily while you build a substitute nest). A duckling (or ducklings) is stuck behind a barrier, with mum on the other side. Catch ● ducklings (if you can!) or herd them past the obstacle so that they can rejoin mum and their siblings. A bird does need to be rescued if it: ● is a very young baby (fuzzy without wing or tail feathers) out of the nest and chilled, ● is an older baby that you have watched for a few hours and it isn't getting fed, ● has an obvious illness or injury, ● doesn't / can't fly away from you, ● seems to be tame (this is often severe shock ‒ a life threatening condition), ● has a limb (wing or leg) hanging oddly, ● was trapped (in a building, entangled etc.) and unable to eat for more than a day, ● has something sticky in its feathers, ● has hit something (e.g. a window, car) and has been badly stunned. This is not a complete list ‒ there are other situations where a bird may need rescue. If you are unsure if the bird needs help or not, call for advice from a wildlife rehabilitator. ©Marra Apgar www.raptor.id.au
  • 4. Perth Raptor Care W.A. Bird Rescue Guide Is it safe to rescue this animal yourself? Kids: if you are not a grown-up, get help from someone who is. The frightened bird may bite or foot a rescuer, and some situations (cutting a barbed wire fence, going into the middle of a road) are too dangerous for young people. An adult needs to decide that it is OK to do a rescue. You will need to assess the situation and decide what risks there are. Figure out how you can reduce the risks, or if you are prepared to take those risks at all. You may not want to rescue the animal yourself if it: ● is in the middle (or even on the side) of a busy, multi-lane road, ● looks too dangerous ‒ including large eagles, herons and cockatoos, ● is a long way off the ground and you don't climb or have safety equipment. In many cases, the risks aren't that great. The best way to reduce risks is to have help. A second person is useful to help herd the bird away from danger or towards a good capture point. They can watch out for your safety if you need to go near a road or climb a ladder. Disclaimer: You choose to rescue at your own risk. The author of this guide is not liable for your actions, the actions of injured birds or resulting injuries! If in any doubt about the risks involved or if you aren't confident in your ability to rescue a bird safely, call for advice from an expert rescuer ‒ a wildlife rehabilitator. Rescue equipment Rescue equipment is not difficult to find or expensive. You may like to store rescue kits in your home and car. The essential items are a box and a piece or two of cloth. In a pinch, a laundry basket and a big blanket that completely covers it can be substituted for the box. I do not recommend using a net unless you are an experienced bird handler who is able to safely restrain / hold a bird to untangle it quickly once caught. Nets can break feathers and scratch eyes. The box is usually made of cardboard, though the plastic cat carrier boxes can be used. The box must have a secure lid and air holes. Never, ever, under any circumstance use a wire cage ‒ birds can damage themselves severely on wire, and the wire doesn't provide the dark safe environment that a box does. Ideally the box should be just big enough for the bird to stand in ‒ a smallish box can be stored inside a biggish box to cover most sizes of bird. The cloth can be an old towel, T-shirt or baby blanket. Tea towels can be handy for small birds. The cloth should be woven thick enough that you can't see things through it (put it over your face and look towards some light to check). The cloth only needs to be big enough to cover the bird ‒ a huge blanket is “overkill” and will only get in your way. ©Marra Apgar www.raptor.id.au
  • 5. Perth Raptor Care W.A. Bird Rescue Guide Rescue technique As mentioned before, assess the risks first. In some cases, injured or sick birds can still run, so place yourself between the bird and hazards such as roads or trees (unless you want to scramble up the tree after the bird). Put pets indoors. Put on a bright shirt before venturing near roads and round up a helper or two if needed. Plan what you are about to do before you start. Have the box waiting, have the cloth in your hands. Is there a corner where it would be easier to catch the bird? Where might the bird try to go instead? With alert mobile birds, you may have to use some strategy to render them catchable. One good trick with partially flighted birds is to herd them into an enclosure or large room, such as a chook pen, a family room or garage. (If they are too hard for you to catch once there, at least they are confined and relatively safe until someone can come to help.) Approach very, very, very slowly and don't stare straight at the bird. A direct stare is threatening. Birds have a much faster firing rate on their nerves than people. This means that they initiate their movements faster than we can, and they can see our movements that much faster too. Even a guy with ninja reflexes is going to look sluggish to a bird. Moving slowly in your approach is less likely to cause the bird to try to escape in a panic. If you see the bird tense and get ready to move, you can either freeze until it seems to relax or change its mind, or edge just a smidgen closer if you are trying to get it to move into a corner. Be patient. It is better to spend half an hour approaching a flighty bird and catch it on the first or second try, rather than dashing madly around making multiple attempts and failing or causing it more injury. Of course, in many cases the bird won't be capable of trying to escape at all. ©Marra Apgar www.raptor.id.au
  • 6. Perth Raptor Care W.A. Bird Rescue Guide The capture can be made once you have closed the distance. There are two ways: fast or slow. Slow: use the same slow, slow speed to drape your cloth over the bird. Fast: thrust your towel over it at speed, as fast as you can without squashing the bird with your hand. You now have a bird under a cloth. As quickly as possible, restrain the bird. For most birds, this simply means scooping them up and depositing them into the waiting box. There are many birds with pointy bits that you should be wary of. Parrots have a lot of crushing power in their beak, magpies and other pointy beaked birds can stab with their beak, and raptorial birds (hawks, owls etc.) have very sharp talons and powerful feet. Locate the pointy bits and ensure that you pick up your bundled bird in such a way that you either avoid those bits or hold them firmly out of harm's way. If you are unwilling to pick up a bundle of bird, substitute the box for capture, lowering it over the top of the bird to restrain it. Something can be slid slowly and gently under the box and bird to enable you to move it. This method usually will only work with slow moving / ill birds. Close the box securely after freeing the bird's head (at least) from the cloth. This allows it to breathe freely and to disentangle itself if it wants to. Place the box in a safe place ‒ somewhere pleasantly warm, out of the way. A healthy parrot can chew through a box, though a sick one is much less likely to. Place the box in a small room just in case of escape. Stress kills sick birds. Do not bring the neighbour kids etc. around to show them the bird. The sight and sound of people is terrifying to most wildlife, even when they are healthy and even if they appear calm. Calmness is a sign of shock, with can be a life threatening condition. Call a wildlife rehabilitator immediately. They will advise on how to get the bird to the them, or how to give first aid if needed. Never, under any circumstances, feed a rescued bird without instructions from a rehabilitator. Birds that are in shock (most rescued birds) have difficulty digesting their normal food, and few people have the correct liquid feeding formulas needed to help the bird recover. People usually try to feed inappropriate foods that can kill a sick bird (mince, milk, bread, porridge etc. are NOT healthy foods for wild birds). Food is not nearly as important as warmth and quiet. The first thing the rehabilitator will give is fluids, rather than food. This is because the digestive system shuts down until the bird starts to recover from shock and the resulting dehydration. Only then will the bird be capable of dealing with food again. To find a wildlife rehabilitator call the Wildcare Helpline on 9474 9055 ©Marra Apgar www.raptor.id.au
  • 7. Perth Raptor Care W.A. Bird Rescue Guide Stuff for junior bird fans to do Make up rescue kits It is always nice to be prepared in case you need to rescue an animal. It is easy to put together the things you need and store them where they may come in handy. Materials: two cardboard boxes around 30 x 20 x 20cm, and 40 x 30 x 30cm cloth such as an old towel, baggy T-shirt etc. ‒ one per box scissors or craft knife paints / textas etc. Flatten the boxes out by cutting tape or carefully removing staples. Get a grown-up to stab some air holes through all four sides of the box. Make the holes about 1cm, but you don't need to be exact. Put 4 – 6 holes on a side. Decorate the outside of the boxes with craft supplies of your choice. It is helpful if you write something on the box about it has a sick bird in it, so don't peek etc. If you are really keen, you could probably paint or sew on the cloth for each box as well. Once flattened and decorated, there are two ways to store your rescue kit ‒ flattened or folded. To store flat, fold each piece of cloth neatly. Put small box inside big box with the two pieces of cloth on top of it (inside the big box). It won't be perfectly flat, but will take up very little room. To fold a box so that it stays shut without tape, open it out and set it on its end. Fold the flaps in order. The last flap to get folded has its corner folded down. The first flap to get folded has its corner folded upwards. The tricky bit is squeezing the downward corner of the last flap past the upward corner of the first flap. During a rescue, you can use this type of fold for the top of the box too. For storage, put each cloth into its box and put the smaller box inside the bigger box. The best places to keep rescue kits are in the back of the car, in the house where everyone knows where to look, and at school in the office so everyone can find it if they need it. ©Marra Apgar www.raptor.id.au
  • 8. Perth Raptor Care W.A. Bird Rescue Guide Build a new nest If you need to make a new nest for a baby bird you have found, rescue the baby first and make sure it is safely out of sight and sound of you in its box. The room the box is in needs to be toasty warm but not hot, so the baby doesn't get chilled or overheated. NEVER feed a baby bird. Materials: scissors or craft knife wire and wire cutters or strong water resistant tape nest sized box, basket or plastic ice cream container handful of small sticks and twigs one bigger stick twice as long as container Once the right size container is found, cut the sides down so the baby can look over the edge, so its parents will be able to see it and feed it easily. Poke a couple of drain holes in the bottom just in case it rains, so the water will run out again just like in a real nest. Line the nest with small sticks from non-toxic plants (hibiscus, native bushes and trees). Poke two holes in the sides and have a bigger stick going through the middle and sticking out the side. This will make it easy for the parents to land. The right location for the nest is very important. It needs to be on a vertical tree or pole near where you found the baby, and close to adult birds you think are the parents. Put the nest on the side away from the hot sun or cold wind and rain. Smaller types of birds need thick overhanging branches so the baby is sheltered and hidden as well as possible. Put it as high as you can so the birds will feel safe from cats, dogs and people on the ground. Use wire (or tape for smaller birds). Remember, you will need to take this off the tree when the birds are done with the nest, so that the tree isn't injured when it grows. (Trees get fatter as they grow, and wire or tape will eventually cut into their bark.) Once the nest is up and feels nice and sturdy, it is time to put the baby in it. If you have built the nest in late evening, wait until first thing in the morning to put the baby in. Once the baby is put in the nest, leave as quick as you can. Move far enough for the birds to feel safe from you (around 20 metres if you are in the open or less if you can hide). Watch to make sure it gets fed by parent birds. Hopefully the baby's parents will see or hear the baby. If they do, they will feed and care for it just like it was in their old nest until it is old enough to climb in the trees. The baby will start flying and chasing its parents for food, often within days of your help. If the parent birds don't feed the baby within half a day, the baby needs to get to a rehabilitator immediately to help it recover. ©Marra Apgar www.raptor.id.au
  • 9. Perth Raptor Care W.A. Bird Rescue Guide What else can we do? Be wildlife friendly: don't use poisons on insects or mice / rats, get rid of barbed wire fencing, get feral honey bees removed from tree hollows Create habitat: by planting local native plants in your garden, leaving a spot for bushes to get really thick and un- trimmed, putting up nest boxes Protect habitat: write letters to local members about your local park or bush, raise funds for people who protect habitat, sign petitions and adopt your local park so you can get permission to plant native plants and ask for bees to be removed. Make others aware: tell everyone you know about the wild animals in your garden or park (from the little tiny bugs right up to any big birds that fly over) and how you are looking after them. Maybe they'll want to look after them too Support conservation organisations: join a conservation group and help them conserve nature for the wild animals that live there. Resources to help you Make a Difference: Use these web sites to get ideas of what you can do, and who can help you do it. Many of these organisations love to get young people involved in their projects! Don't forget that there will be local “Friends of..” bush care groups in your area too. Check with your local council. WA Electoral Commission and Education Centre: http://www.waec.wa.gov.au/frames.asp?section=education A great way to learn how government works. Get in touch with your local members. WA Local Government Association: http://www.walga.asn.au/about_lg If you want to find your local councils so that you can write them letters. Greening Australia's “Grow Us A Home”: http://www.growusahome.org.au/ Fantastic site, and some of the nurseries might be worth a field trip too! and Greening Australia: http://www.greeningaustralia.org.au A local, active organisation, educating the community. Australian Wildlife Conservancy: http://www.australianwildlife.org/ Keeping the wild places for the wildlife. WA Department of Environment and Conservation (previously CALM): http://www.calm.wa.gov.au/ Lots of info on WA parks and places, with some good education programs on offer. WA Conservation Council: http://www.conservationwa.asn.au/ For local conservation issues. Men of the Trees: http://www.menofthetrees.com.au/ Get involved in growing and planting local native plants so animals have more habitat. Birds in Backyards: http://www.birdsinbackyards.net/ National program that encourages growing habitat and bird watching. WA Gould League: http://www.wagouldleague.com.au/ A great place to learn about the wetlands of Perth! GrantsLINK: http://www.grantslink.gov.au/ Got big ideas with a little budget? Just one site to look for grants for conservation projects. Perth Raptor Care: http://raptor.iinet.net.au/raptorcr/ Help injured local raptors. You can donate or sponsor a raptor to help Marra care for them. ©Marra Apgar www.raptor.id.au
  • 10. Perth Raptor Care W.A. Bird Rescue Guide Emergency Rescue for Raptors 1. Assessment: Does it Need Help? ➢ Can You Help Safely? ➢ 2. Rescue: Catch the ➢ raptor Beware the feet. Cover with a towel. Restrain the feet as shown Place in a cardboard box. Get Assistance, call: ➢ Wildcare Help Line 9474 9055 Perth Raptor Care: 9250 4759 ©Marra Apgar www.raptor.id.au