Carers stories 2018
On this page
we will keep you informed about animals that you have brought in to
care with WIRES Northern Rivers branch. If you would like to know about
a particular animal, please email us, and we will do what we can to
keep you up to date.
Mr Oats’ Silo Adventure
When dairy farmers, Megan and her husband, were dispensing feed for their cattle from a silo last week, they had a big surprise. Along with the grain, a fluffy tail appeared. When they opened up the silo chute a very dehydrated and underweight Mountain Brushtail possum fell out, he was alive but not looking at all well.
Mr Oats, as he became affectionately known, had the milled food in his sunken eyes and matted fur. Megan took the possum to a local vet where he was picked up by WIRES volunteers and taken into care.
After having his fur cleaned and eyes flushed he showed improvement and it looked like his will to live had returned. After four days in care, with lots of hydration and some lovely fresh foliage, he had gained more than 300g and was looking much better. He was transferred to a larger aviary where he could regain his strength. As soon as the weather is favourable Mr Oats will be released back to his home.
The dairy farming couple had been waiting on a new silo to be delivered and the open-topped bin was only in temporary use. Megan said they have had rats go into it before, but never a possum – that is until Mr Oats. Megan said they thought he had been trapped for a couple of days but, due to the condition he was in, it could have been longer.
After another possum was discovered less than a week later, the couple decided to empty the temporary bin so nothing else could become trapped. A big thank you to Megan for saving Mr Oats, and for taking steps to prevent other wildlife from a grainy fate.
Images by Leoni Byron-Jackson and Jeanette Dundas
A tiny chick eyes not yet open came into care after it was found by Sasha in an indoor horse arena in Tintenbar. It was identified as a Welcome swallow and named Twinkle toes.
These tiny birds grow quickly, parent birds are kept busy through the daylight hours catching insects and feeding their chicks.
WIRES volunteers caring for young chicks such as this little one, put their lives on hold in order to care for these little chicks. They are fed every 15 minutes throughout the day as they would have been if still with their parents.
Thankfully they grow and develop fast; Twinkle Toes was ready for release after two weeks in care and is now back with his/her family.
Images by Jodie Bawn
Many chicks and fledgling birds come into care with WIRES Northern Rivers, in many cases we can successfully reunite these orphans with the parent birds, but sadly with some this is not possible and the orphan is taken into care.
These crocheted nests are ideal to keep the chicks warm and snug. They are easy to make and are basically a beanie pattern but with a flat base. Using double thickness wool and longer sides so they can be folded over gives the nests a firmer shape. A variety of sizes enable the nests to be used for different sized species of birds.
This little Rainbow Lorikeet would normally be in a nest hollow. It i is snuggled in the warm wool nest with a cover placed over it to replicate a nest hollow.
We welcome any donated crocheted nests. We can arrange pickup from any Northern Rivers location; just give us a call on 66281898. If donated items are coming from outside our region, they can be sent in a postbag to PO Box 1356 Lismore 2480.
Crocheted Nest Pattern
Size H or 5mm crochet hook
Starting ring: crochet 3 chains using 2 or 3 threads of pure wool or cotton yarn held together, slip stitch last chain to first chain to make a ring.
Round 1: Chain 2 ( this counts as your first stitch), work between 10-15 single crochets into the ring ( depending on the thickness of the yarn). Slip stitch the last single crochet to the top stitch in the chain 2 that started this round.
Round 2: Chain 2. Single crochet into the next two stitches, then do 2 single crochets into the next stitch, single crochet into the next two stitches, then 2 single crochets in the next stitch. Repeat this around the circle. Slip stitch your last single crochet into the top of the chain 2 that started this round.
Round 3, 4, 5, 6, and on: Repeat round 2 until your circle is at least 7cm to 15cm, for each following round crochet ONE single crochet into each stitch. You will see the sides begin to form. Crochet until the sides are about 5-7cm high. Bind off and weave in the loose ends.
On 23rd Sept when Carl pulled up at a stopping bay south of Woodburn he noticed a Kookaburra sitting on the edge of the road looking a bit stunned, he approached the bird and was able to pick it up. Carl gently bundled him up and noted the location, knowing Laughing Kookaburras are territorial and belong to a strong family group so need to be released back where found when they recover.
Carl phoned Wires and continued driving. He was heading to Lismore and able to deliver the bird to a Wires volunteer bird carer.
The Kookaburra was very quiet indicating it was heavily concussed.
The following day a visit to Mike at Alstonville vet surgery confirmed there were no breaks, some severe bruising and concussion from impact with a car was the reason this Kookaburra had been sitting on the side of the road and able to be picked up.
The first few days were spent in a hospital cage. As he started to recover from the concussion he became more alert but was still very weak. He had to be encouraged to eat but as his strength slowly returned he took food more readily and a bit of that feisty Kookaburra attitude began to return.
A flight test confirmed his ability to fly, but also showed weakness still; a few days more to build up flight strength would be required before release.
Finally after 8 days in care he was ready; his feisty Kookaburra attitude had returned, he was strong and healthy and he was driven back to the stopping bay at the Devil's Pulpit near Woodburn by his WIRES volunteer carer Julie and released.
Julie writes: It has been such a pleasure to care for this handsome Kookaburra and such a joy to see him released.
Thank you Carl for rescuing this Kookaburra and giving him a second chance at life.
By Julie Marsh
Ari stopped his car near Nimbin when he came across a dead wallaby lying on the road; he found this little joey still very much alive within mums pouch. He bundled up the joey after removing it gently from the pouch and called WIRES.
After examination by our WIRES volunteer the joey was found to be in good health considering his ordeal and was placed in intensive care whilst he recovered from fear and shock. The following day he was examined at Lismore Central Vet Clinic due to having a kink in his tail. It turned out that one vertebra in his tail was out of alignment, most likely caused in the accident that had caused the loss of is mum.
His tail was bandaged and is being checked and changed regularly.
Little Ari, named after his rescuer, is settling into care and after meeting another two little joeys at the same stage of development already in care, he has made friends and is now getting just a little exercise on his feet each day.
Dragging his bandaged tail along does not seem to discourage Ari from exploring his new surroundings, although he is being monitored closely in order not to overdo his activities till such time as his bandage is removed.
Many animals are hit by cars on our roads, please stop and help the animal, WIRES is only a phone call away. Locally our emergency hotline 66281898 is answered 24 hours, day and night.
Please stop and check the pouch should you come across a dead marsupial, a joey may still be very much alive in mums pouch.
Thank you Ari for stopping, thanks to you we are confident that little Ari will make a full recovery and return to the wild in about 8 months’ time.
Images by Renata Phelps
On 31st July WIRES volunteers Liz and Fred got a call from Ausecology, a flora and fauna management company that works with councils. They were involved in the Mount Lindesay Highway Upgrade and they had saved four Sugar gliders and a Brushtail possum from tree clearing.
Katelyn and Paul from Ausecology delivered two female and two male Sugar gliders, together with a Brushtail possum to our WIRES volunteers. The Brushtail female had bad intestinal injuries and sadly died.
One male Sugar glider was rather lucky to have been rescued as he had a bottle top collar around his neck, which was able to be removed without any injury resulting. Long term had he not been rescued it may have been a very different story for this beautiful animal. This is a good reminder for all of us to remember to cut bottle top collars before discarding them in the rubbish.
Sadly, one female Sugar glider with young died, but the other three Sugar gliders gained weight and were clearly ready to go home after some time in care.
Ausecology arranged for a number of habitat boxes to be erected in the area where these animals were found, and once these were in place it was possible to release the animals back to their new homes. A big thank you to Ausecology staff for saving these gliders and assisting to re-home them. Our dedicated WIRES volunteers travelled around 240km to help rescue and care for these animals. It was a great team effort all around.
Image by Fred Beckhous
Leaving the nest
Children can be hard work. Feeding, providing shelter, teaching them important life skills – it can be exhausting. For some parents, convincing the kids to leave home can be a real challenge. In other families, teenagers want to be independent and decide to move out into the world early – sometimes before they are fully ready to fend for themselves.
Our feathered friends face very similar challenges, and at this time of the year young birds of various shapes and sizes are leaving their nests. Some are ready to do so and others aren’t.
A lot of calls made to WIRES Northern Rivers Hotline (66281898) at the moment are to report birds on the
ground that do not necessarily need assistance.
Nestlings are naked or fluffy chicks who should still be in their nest. If they fall they will need to be urgently assessed by a WIRES rescuer. They may have been attacked by a predator or have been injured in the fall.
Fledgling are young birds just learning to fly and this is a vulnerable time for them. Parrots and kookaburras are able to fly directly from the nest. Others chicks like magpies and currawongs leave the nest when they are just learning flight skills and may be seen on the ground flapping their wings, running and taking short flights. This is normal behaviour. The parent birds still keep feeding, protecting and teaching them to forage for food whilst they are on the ground. It can take up to a week for some young birds to develop the skill to fly up from the ground and during this time their parents will encourage them to hop up to the safety of higher branches at night.
People often want to help fledglings, as they appear vulnerable, but it is best to leave them alone, keep your domestic pets contained indoors and observe. Sometimes the parent may not be immediately visible so watch from a distance before rushing in to pick up the young bird. In most cases the parents will be nearby. Providing the chick has feathers, is mobile, doesn’t appear injured and a parent comes to attend, it is best to leave them where they are, or gently place chick on a branch in a nearby tree.
Any chick that is cold, sick or injured, or has been on the ground for an extended period with no parents attending will need urgent assistance. Call WIRES for advice.
If you are keen to make a difference for the wildlife in our area, consider joining WIRES. For more information about how you can join and contribute call 66281898.
Image by Melanie Barsony
Two weeks ago on a very windy day a magpie chick fell from its nest in Ballina, WIRES was contacted by Anna that had seen this happen in her yard. The nest had been built in a palm tree, much too high to place the chick back in the nest.
Normally we would supply a substitute nest but that was out of the question because there was still a chick in the original nest, and the parent birds may not be able to attend to both. The chick was taken into WIRES care.
Two days later the second chick fell from the nest. There was now an opportunity to reunite the chicks with the parent birds by putting up a substitute nest.
A suitable location was chosen, the substitute nest was erected with the magpie chicks safely inside. It took only minutes before the chicks were being fed and attended to by the parent birds.
Yesterday Anna who had phoned the WIRES when the chicks fell sent these photos of the rescue and to report that the magpie chicks now had enough climbing and flight skills to avoid danger, they had come out of the nest and were being fed by the parent birds on the ground as is normal for their stage of development.
Anna also mentioned they were keeping their cat inside to allow the magpies to be raised safely and how they've enjoyed the experience of being the custodians of this magpie family.
Thank you to Anna and her family.
Images by Anna
When Stu from Ballina visited his friends for a few days at Ocean Shores he did not realise that he would be taking a passenger home on his motorbike.
On Sunday Stu called the WIRES hotline reporting a snakes head peeping out from under the fuel tank of his bike.
Given that the bike is usually parked in a secure snake proof garage he quickly realised that it must have climbed aboard while he was parked next to parkland at Ocean Shores.
With WIRES snake handler Martin at the ready, Stu carefully removed the fuel tank to reveal the 2 meter python happily perched on the frame. Martin removed the python from the bike.
“Bikie ”the snake was taken into care and following some hydration therapy and removal of a few tics was given a lift, this time by car, back to Ocean Shores where Bikie was released close to its home at Ocean Shores.
Stu was as relieved as Bikie to end this adventure, and was most appreciative that Bikie travelled all the way from Ocean Shores to Ballina without deciding to make his presence known while on the highway.
As the days start to warm up, snakes are becoming much more active.
Like other reptiles, snakes are ectothermic (cold-blooded), relying on their environment for thermoregulation. In winter we do not see them as often, although contrary to widely-held belief, they don’t “hibernate”. Unlike some warm blooded animals who enter a deep sleep and do not move at all during winter, snakes enter a state known as “brumation”, and on warmer winter days will move around and find water.
Many people pass close to snakes every day but because snakes are so afraid of us and prefer to stay out of our way, we never notice. Snakes know the food, water and shelter in their territory and learn the daily movements of the resident humans. In reality, it is only occasionally that snakes and humans come into conflict -- generally because the snake cannot make a quick exit. During spring snakes can become more defensive and territorial so it is a good idea to be a little more wary.
Snakes are protected by law and play an important role in our ecosystem. A resident carpet python will easily keep rodents in check and deter venomous snake species from moving in! Relocating snakes out of their territory puts them at risk of not finding water and food, and they may die trying to get back home. A “stranger” snake that does not know your movements may move into that territory and increase the risk to you.
Never try to catch or kill a snake. Snakes are not normally aggressive; however, they will defend themselves if threatened and this is when most snakebites occur.
Discourage snakes by keeping your lawn neat and dispose of excessive leaf litter, garden waste, building materials or woodpiles near the house. Snake-proof your aviaries, pet enclosures and chicken pens with 1cm square mesh wire. Check that windows and doors have secure insect screens and weather strips to close gaps at ground level. Try to train all family members to keep screen doors closed. Placing water at your fence line can minimise the need for snakes to come near the house.
WIRES Snake Handlers will come to the rescue if a snake is inside a house. If possible leave the snake an avenue of escape: close the room off and leave outer doors and windows open so the snake can leave when it no longer feels threatened.
If you have a snake caught in netting, see a snake that might be injured or have seen a snake in the same position for a number of days, call WIRES immediately on 66281898.
If you are keen to make a difference for the wildlife in our area, consider joining WIRES. Now is a great time to join since their next workshop will be held in Lismore on October 7th and there is time beforehand to complete the online part of the course. For more information about how you can join and contribute call 66281898.
Images by Lib Ruytenberg, Marion Nel and Josef Kohlmetz
This little Eastern Yellow Robin came into care with its sibling; sadly the sibling did not survive.
The nest was found as pruning was taking place on a farm, unfortunately the environment was not suitable for relocation of the nest as spraying was going to take place soon after pruning.
||The Eastern Yellow Robin builds a cup shaped nest of bark and grass bound together with spider web; it is lined with soft leaves and usually located 5-20 meters above ground in a tree fork.
These beautiful little birds can often be seen sitting on a low branch hunting spiders and insects on the ground or perched sideways on the trunks of trees.
||The little Robin is now foraging for food and plays a game where she will drop a mealworm, watch where it falls, then pounce on it to eat, she is well on her way to becoming independent and is almost ready for release.
Images by Sharon McGrigor and Julie Marsh
We love magpies: The story of Robert Gunalung
Note that this story has been written by students at Ballina Coast High School. It has been edited only slightly by WIRES.
At the end of last year a young female magpie started visiting our classroom. She hops around the tables and chairs and sings at the closed door to come in for a visit. She stays for a little while, sitting on the backs of our chairs, has her lessons and then flies out. She spends a lot of time in the trees outside of our classroom and over the course of the year she has trusted us to start hand feeding her.
About 6 weeks ago she brought her mate to visit us. We noticed that he had fishing line or wire wrapped around his leg and claw and was not able to comfortably walk or land in the trees. He was hopping around on one foot and had become unbalanced.
We knew we had to do something to help our magpie friends. We tried on our own for weeks to catch the bird. We tried sneaking up on him with blankets, throwing nets, trying to get him to trust us by hand feeding, but we just could not get close enough to catch him. We knew he wanted help and needed help. He would hold his wire entwined claw up to show us whenever we were close. A lot of people at school had tried to catch this bird without any success and he had become quite wary of people and famous as the bird with the sore claw.
We called the WIRES hotline because we knew we needed help to catch him. We couldn’t let it go on any longer. We were all worried about him and that he might die or lose his leg completely.
WIRES sent Marion, who had been to the school a few times to catch the bird, without any success. Marion organised a bird trap for us and came and showed us how to use it.
We were sceptical about catching a wild bird that was clearly an amazing flyer. We knew we had to persist as his leg was becoming increasingly uncomfortable as the wire and line wrapped tighter and tighter. The crows were also beginning to take an interest in him, maybe sensing he was weak.
We thought seeing we had become so invested in the magpie we should give him a name. We decided to call him Robert Gunalung. Gunalung being the Bundjalung word for magpie. We call him Bob, Rob or Robbie for short.
On the first day we laid the trap for Rob, we baited it with mince. Rob would eat the mince from anywhere but inside the trap. The bait was just not tempting enough. We weren’t even close!
Remembering how much the magpies at home loved to steal our dog’s dinner we thought we would try dog food. We hand fed Mrs Gunalung some pet food and she loved it, singing to her mate with meat in and all around her beak. Robbie flew down, but would still not take the food from us. We threw a little bit onto the grass and he was hooked! We knew we might stand a chance and baited the trap with pet food.
Mrs Gunalung jumped straight into the trap and began eating. Robbie stood just outside the trap watching her, he wanted the food but was wary. We waited patiently as Robbie jumped towards the centre of the trap. Success! In a split second we had caught both birds! Mrs Gunalung had lured Robbie into our trap.
We covered the trap in a blanket and gently worked Robbie into a waiting box then released his partner. We called Marion to let her know we had been successful and she organised for a vet to see him.
The vet was worried that Robbie would not make it because native animals do not respond well to anaesthetic. We were scared! Robert made it through the detangling process and had some pain medication. It was a relief to hear he was doing great. Robert then went to stay with Marion while he completed a course of antibiotics.
Today Marion brought Robert Gunalung back to us and we released him back into our playground. We were worried that Roberts’s partner had flown away while he had been rehabilitating, but by the end of lunch time today they were sitting together on the grass and catching worms.
We learnt some important things during this process about our native wildlife from Marion. Such as; we shouldn’t feed native birds processed meat (no more ham from our sandwiches!) or bread or even our cake!
We are concerned about the future of our native wildlife and in particular our local birds who can so easily become entangled in discarded wire and line. Robbie now has a permanent disability from his entanglement. We would hope that everyone accepts responsibility for our local environment and bins materials that are dangerous to our wildlife. We would also suggest using bins with lids as we have observed our birds climbing over wire, twine and string in open bins.
We would encourage everyone to support WIRES and the fantastic practical assistance they give to our native animals and the community trying to help them.
Photo credit: Marely Kapeen (Yr8), Braidan Henman (Yr9), Sonya Soulsby (teacher), and Robert Gunalung.
Wayne, a truck driver travelling on the highway at St Helena, called in at a truck stop.
A can in the gutter caught Wayne's eye. Lodged in the hole of the can was a snake with its head firmly stuck.
Wayne called WIRES for help and volunteer snake handler Virgil was fortunately able to carefully free the Red-Bellied Black snake from the deadly trap. Once out, the snake was closely examined and fortunately found to be uninjured. It was able to be released back into surrounding bush.
Drink cans can be a deadly trap when thoughtlessly discarded; snakes are one of many species that can become trapped while exploring the inside of the can. If a snake slithers its head through the opening, it is unable to get it back out, as its scales do not bend backwards and will keep it pinned at the neck.
Please do the right thing when disposing of rubbish and help save our wildlife.
Thank you Wayne for calling WIRES
This tiny Glider is the smallest of all gliders with a head and body length of just 6.5 - 8cm. It is a Feathertail Glider and it came into care after being found inside a house, at first mistaken for a mouse, but on closer inspection Ester realised it was certainly not a mouse and would not be inside her house unless something was wrong. Ester called WIRES and that is how this little juvenile Feathertail Glider came into care yesterday.
They get their name from their remarkable tail which is flat with stiff fringed hair growing horizontally either side all the way to the tip. The tail is used to steer and brake as they glide up to 20 meters through the trees. They are the only known mammal to have a feather like tail. Tail length is 7-8cm and shaped just like the feather on a bird. The weight of an adult is 10-15 gram, so this tiny glider is often missed when in trouble, or mistaken for a mouse when the cat brings it in, which is often how WIRES become involved.
Like all gliders they have a skin fold known as the gliding membrane, in Feathertails this membrane extends from the elbow to the knee. Fringed with long hair along the edge, the body surface is increased. When stretched out, the glider can float long distances, like a falling leaf. It is at home in the trees, feeding on insects, pollen and nectar it launches itself into the air when it needs to get from one tree to the next.
To become airborne, they hurl themselves from the tree with legs outstretched; the flap of skin between front and back feet extending like a parachute. The flattened tail helps this tiny possum to glide, steer, brake and anchor itself on landing.
The feet resemble that of a frog, and the large pads on the toes which have serrated groves underneath allow them to climb just about anything. In fact many sweat glands creating moisture on the foot pads allow this tiny Glider the surface tension like mini suction cups to climb even vertical panes of glass...
They are found throughout Eastern Australia from South Aust. through to far north Queensland.
These gliders will build their nests in anything from abandoned bird’s nests to banana bags and line the nest with leaves, feathers and shredded bark. The nest is 6-8cm spherical and closed. Usual nesting places include palms, stag horn and tree ferns. They live in communal groups of up to 30 and the breeding cycle is all year round in the Northern Rivers.
This little fellow is not far from being independent and will be released in about a weeks’ time back on the property where he was found, by then he should be able to glide through the trees in search of his family home.
Ready for a feed in care
Time for a sleep with a full tummy
By Sue Ulyatt
Sigrid from Goonellabah had quite a surprise when she opened the bonnet of her car; a Python was fast asleep on the engine.
WIRES volunteer snake handler Marion was able to safely remove the snake from the engine and Sigrid was happy for Marion to let the snake go as it obviously lives on or near her property.
Marion released the snake into bushland behind the fence, through a small gap below the fence.
Sigrid sent us a lovely thank you message and pictures of the rescue: Thank you WIRES and Marion for removing this friendly python from my car today.
Images by Sigrid Haworth
WIRES Recognises National Threatened Species Day
The 7th of September is National Threatened Species day. Sadly, this National date was chosen because on 7 September 1936 the last Tasmanian tiger died in Hobart Zoo sending the species extinct.
This is a day to reflect on what happened to the Thylacine and to consider what we can do to ensure this is not the fate of other native plants and animals.
WIRES Northern Rivers regularly rescue, save and release animals that are threatened.
Particular highlights in the 2017-2018 year include the release of four Black-striped wallabies and four Squirrel gliders. WIRES had its first ever Eastern Pygmy-Possum come into care, although sadly it died not long after rescue after being attacked by a cat.
Other threatened mammals that have been assisted include Brush-tailed phascogale, Red-legged pademelon, Grey-headed flying-fox, Eastern long-eared bat and Little bentwing bat. In the Northern Rivers area, WIRES refer the many calls we receive about Koalas to the specialist care group, Friends of the Koala.
WIRES specialist raptor carers have been involved in rescues of Powerful owl, Osprey, Spotted Harrier and White-bellied sea-eagle. A number of other threatened bird species were assisted in 2017-18, including Rose-crowned Fruit-dove, Wompoo Fruit-dove, Marbled Frogmouth, Beach Stone-Curlew, Bush Stone-Curlew, Curlew Sandpiper and Sooty Tern. In our area, WIRES liaises with specialist group, Australian Seabird Rescue, for the rescue and care of marine animals and birds.
As well as educating members of the public about our Endangered species, WIRES also play an important role in educating the public about what they can do to ensure the safety and wellbeing of all native animals.
The main reasons these threatened species come into care include entanglement on barbed wire, motor vehicle collisions and cat and dog attacks. Everyone can do their part to assist wildlife by driving carefully in vegetated areas, keeping domestic pets contained and covering the top strands of barbed wire fences with visible tape – or removing them all together, particularly near fruiting and flowering bushes.
If you are keen to make a difference for the wildlife in our area, consider joining WIRES. Now is a great time to join since their next workshop will be held in Lismore on October 7th and there is time beforehand to complete the online part of the course. For more information about how you can join and contribute call 66281898.
Images by Annie Crowley, Katy Stewart, Sharon McGrigor, Lib Ruytenberg and Sue Ulyatt
Swooping Magpie Season
Spring has sprung and Magpies are beginning to swoop. But be reassured – this only happens for a few weeks each year.
Magpies become protective of their young hatchlings and fledglings because they are vulnerable to predators. While it can be very frightening, most magpies are usually just giving us a warning and generally only defend within 100 metres of their nest site. For the rest of the year outside of the breeding season magpies are friendly visitors to your garden and invaluable pest managers, eating a wide variety of insect pests.
Occasionally a magpie might become particularly aggressive. Usually this is a result of someone previously harassing them, their nests or their chicks. So never harass, hit or provoke nesting birds. Do not throw anything at a bird or nest, and never climb a tree to remove eggs or chicks. A harassed bird will distrust you and as they have a great memory they will target you in future.
If you do know an area where magpies are nesting, the best thing to do is to simply avoid that place for the few weeks. If it is a public location, consider putting up a sign to alert others. If you do have to walk through the area, carry an open umbrella, wear a hat (which is a good thing to do anyway) or carry a leafy branch just above your head. Do not try to hit the Magpie as this will only make it even more aggressive to the next person.
Studies have shown that Magpies recognise people by their faces and that once a magpie knows and trusts you it will be friendly to you for life, and will teach its offspring to trust you too. So enjoy watching these iconic Australian birds from a distance as they learn from their devoted parents. Be nice to them, and in return they will be nice to you!
If more assistance or advice is required please call WIRES Northern Rivers on 66281898.
Images by Sharon McGrigor & Sarah Bennet
Juvenile Barn Owls continue to be rescued in record numbers. There is no definite cause but we suspect it may be that this year the young owls are dispersing to find new territories at the same time as the early start to the bird breeding season.
Any bird of prey is seen as a big threat in the bird world, so this has resulted in hyper vigilant and defensive birds such as Magpies, Currawongs and Crows defending their territory if an owl is caught out when the sun comes up.
Bird strike has been a common cause of injury for owls, and the larger birds can cause some real damage resulting in head wounds and even skull fractures.
The drought and lack of food is also causing hardship for all of our birds and compounding the problem. If you see a Barn Owl being attacked by birds and it comes to ground, please call Wires on 66281898 urgently.
Also take extra care while driving at night as owls are often hunting on roadsides. Car accidents are the second most common cause for rescue. Sadly, when a car is involved, the owl will come out second best and most are mortally wounded.
Wires presently has four juvenile Barn Owls in care, all are recovering well and will soon be released.
By Melanie Barsony
Farmers are increasingly using molasses as a supplement to help their cattle through the drought. Unfortunately, birds sometimes mistake it for water or misjudge how sticky it is and can become trapped. WIRES NR has seen an increase in the number of birds becoming trapped this way.
Lisa was horse riding with her young daughter Alice when she checked the molasses tub and discovered a poor kookaburra submerged with just his beak sticking out.
Lisa quickly rescued him and then was able to juggle a very sticky bird and two ponies back home. She gave him a warm bath and then called WIRES.
It is important the birds don't get cold as shock and low body temperature can be lethal. Lisa did a great job with the initial wash and kept him warm.
The Wires volunteer gave him fluid therapy and kept him in an intensive care unit for 24 hours before another warm wash. He was still quite unwell and a vet visit for antibiotics was needed.
After two weeks in care he was taken back to the farm and happily released with Lisa and Alice watching.
Please remember to check molasses tubs at least twice a day, and have a rope or stick in the water troughs so wildlife can escape.
By Melanie Barsony
Busy pruning a bushy tree close to power lines, workers did not notice a small nest hidden between the leaves.
Two tiny chicks tumbled to the ground where they huddled together undiscovered.
Later that day the property owner put on the sprinkler to water the tree and after a while noticed her two small dogs playing with something. She went to investigate and found the dogs each had a tiny chick in their mouths. She quickly rescued the chicks and called WIRES.
Despite being in shock, cold and bruised, these two amazing little Crested Pigeon chicks survived the ordeal. They are now doing well in care after intensive care treatment and will be released back to the wild as soon as they are old enough to fend for themselves.
Please make sure to check between branches before pruning, young lives may be spared by your investigation
By Julie Marsh
Double trouble for wildlife on barbed wire
Last week WIRES was called to rescue a Barn Owl caught on barbed wire at McLeans Ridges. Barbed wire rescues can be tricky, so two WIRES volunteers went to the rescue together.
When they arrived they needed to drive through a couple of paddocks to reach the location where the entangled Barn Owl was. As they passed a small dam they noticed a Black Flying Fox also caught on a barbed wire fence over the water.
The Barn Owl had one wing caught. It had struggled to free itself causing severe injuries to its wing.
The flying fox was caught over water so proved to be a much more difficult rescue. The farmer who had called WIRES was able to provide the volunteers with two kayaks. The flying fox was caught on 3 strands of barbed wire and the injuries indicated it had been there for a couple of days. This rescue required balance and precision but, after great effort, the two WIRES volunteers were able to free the bat.
Barbed wire causes horrendous injuries to many creatures especially Barn Owls, Tawny Frogmouths, Flying Foxes and Gliders. Sadly, the injuries to both the Barn Owl and the Flying Fox were severe and they did not recover. Although not a happy ending, wildlife rescuers are always so grateful to be able to save animals from suffering on barbed wire fences.
WIRES ask that people consider the effect that their fencing has on wildlife, particularly near waterways and fruiting and flowering trees. It is best to remove fences wherever they are not needed, but some other simple steps, such as making the top two strands more visible with a light coloured tape can also save lives. Please monitor your fences and if you do find an animal that is caught call WIRES Northern Rivers on 66281898. Excellent information on how to ensure your fencing is wildlife friendly can be found at http://wildlifefriendlyfencing.com/.
At the end of May WIRES received a call regarding a flying fox caught in netting on a fruit tree. WIRES volunteer Kim attended the rescue and found a mandarin tree covered in an old fishing net.
The Flying Fox was well and truly entangled and in the struggle to free herself the netting had wrapped around her neck four times, somehow her lip had been cut through and even her wings were entangled.
Whilst Kim worked to free the Flying Fox she explained to the concerned member of public the damage that had been caused and how to avoid this in future by using appropriate netting. The old net was immediately removed to ensure no other animals would suffer the same fate.
The injured Flying Fox was taken to Goonellabah vet clinic, here her lip was stitched using micro surgery performed by vet Toni, and the Flying Fox was named Lippy. No other injury was found during the examination and Lippy went into rehab with Kim.
As her lip healed, both wings having been constricted by the netting when she was trapped, started to break down, even muscle disintegrated exposing bone.
Intensive treatment was instigated and finally the muscle grew back over the bone, but to be sure there would be no permanent damage Lippy was transported to Currumbin Wildlife Hospital for a health check.
Lippy was x-rayed and it was discovered that she was expecting, a tiny pup could be seen on the x-ray. Her injury was healing well so Lippy came back into rehab and her diet was adjusted to suit her needs as an expectant mum.
Sadly a week ago Lippy was found to have an infection in one of her wings, she was prescribed strong antibiotics and we hope this will help get the infection under control. Ultrasound and X-ray showed her pup has a strong heartbeat and is growing well.
Flying foxes are pregnant for 6 months which is a long time for such a small animal. Lippy is so far making good progress and we hope she will make a full recovery, her pregnancy go full term and give birth to a beautiful healthy pup.
If you need to use netting please ensure it is wildlife friendly. Information can be found here:
WILDLIFE FRIENDLY BACKYARD FRUIT NETTING
Images by Currumbin Wildlife Hospital & Kim McCully
Guides to the rescue of wildlife
Lismore Girl Guides have been busy helping local wildlife by knitting pouches for joeys.
WIRES members visited the Guides and talked to them about what wildlife carers do, and how marsupials such as wallabies, kangaroos, possums and bandicoots carry their babies – we call them joeys – in pouches. The joeys are very small when they are first born – the size of a jelly bean. They have no fur at all. They live in their mum’s pouch for around 9 months while they grow fur and become big and strong.
Having joeys in care takes lots of work, WIRES explained, as joeys are fed many times throughout the night and day, they need special milk, and produce lots of washing. Joeys also need to be kept warm and quiet. WIRES carers are always in need of suitable pouches.
There are two kinds of pouches needed - one inner liner made of cotton and an outer pouch made of wool.
Eager to help save these little native animals, Lismore Guides got busy and over the past few weeks knitted 22 pouches. This was a great opportunity to learn more about our unique Australian wildlife and what we can all do to assist them.
WIRES would like to extend a big thank you to Lismore Girl Guides.
Images by Susan Harmon
With the days lengthening and temperatures getting warmer, WIRES would like to alert the public that we are moving into Puggle season!
Now is breeding time for Echidnas and females may be carrying either an egg or a very small echidna, known as a ‘puggle’. Echidnas do not actually have a permanent pouch. Instead they have contracting muscles in their abdomens, which form a pouch-like fold.
After 10 days in the egg the Puggle taps on the inside of the egg with what is called an ‘egg tooth’ to break the soft shell. It then stays in the pouch for a further 2 months until it starts to develop spines, at which time mum will dig a nursery burrow in which she will leave the puggle. She will close up the entry and return every 2-10 days to feed the young through a series of mammary pores on her stomach.
WIRES would like to ask the public to be especially vigilant at the moment in regard to Echidnas. Should you come across an injured Echidna please stop, check underneath the animal as well as the surrounding area.
The impact from a car accident can cause a puggle to roll some distance from mum’s body. A search can often locate a tiny un-spined puggle. They will be rolled into a ball and may look like a pinky-grey clump of clay. Please call WIRES Northern Rivers (66281898) straight away if a puggle is found, as they require specialist intensive care immediately.
If you find an adult echidna which may be injured, please call WIRES immediately for advice. Because of their spines, echidnas are difficult to handle. Be sure to let WIRES know exactly where you found the Echidna so the animal can be returned to the exact location for release.
Image by Leoni Byron-Jackson
Late last week Lani was driving along the Rock Valley Road on her way to Lismore when she came across a Sulphur Crested Cockatoo sitting on the road. Something was obviously wrong as the bird did not fly of as the car approached.
Lani stopped, the bird still made no attempt to fly off. Lani wrapped it up in a towel and delivered it to Lismore Vet Clinic.
Here the Sulphur Crested Cockatoo was examined, no broken bones were found and he was diagnosed with a mild concussion caused by an encounter with a car.
WIRES volunteer Julie collected the bird, now named Rocky due to his resilience.
Rocky was rehydrated and recovered quickly.
After a test flight early the following morning he was transported back to Rock Valley.
He flew off beautifully, landed in a huge gum tree and screeched loudly to his family to let them know he was home.
Thank you Lani and Lismore Vet clinic for giving Rocky a second chance, considering cockatoos live more than 85 years, Rocky has a long life ahead. Fingers crossed he will watch out for cars.
By Julie Marsh
Cocos palms prove deadly for hungry bats
The ongoing drought is hitting all our wildlife hard.
Darcy from Casino called WIRES after he noticed the local currawongs swooping something stuck high in a palm tree. It was a Grey-headed flying-fox which had become hopelessly entangled in the palm fronds.
Starving bats are attracted to the green seeds of the Cocos palm as well as the palm fronds which can provide a feed of insects such as lerps. The fronds become split and stringy, creating a trap for entanglement.
There was no way to reach the struggling bat, even with an extension ladder. A cherry picker was the only option. Steve Cubis of Steve Cubis Tree Services kindly came to the rescue, travelling with his vehicle from Lismore to assist.
Sadly, as the WIRES volunteer untangled the bat she discovered that it had just died. It was a grey-headed flying-fox. This species is classified as vulnerable to extinction on the Federal Threatened Species list.
This was the second death of a bat caught in Cocos palms in a single day.
This South-American palm used to be a popular garden and street tree for its fast growth and tropical appearance. It is now regarded as an environmental weed due to its rapid spread into bushland and its harmful effect on many species of wildlife. The fruit can be toxic for animals and the fibrous seeds can create gut obstruction as well as become wedged in the teeth of animals, preventing further intake of food.
You can help wildlife on a local level by removing any Cocos palm trees you may have in your yard. Hand pull or chip seedlings that come up around the base of trees and pick up dead fruit and dispose of them thoughtfully. Encouraging your friends and family to do the same.
Before cutting down any mature palm trees please call WIRES NR hotline on 66281898 for advice as possums and gliders may be nesting in the crown of the palm.
Images by Shaun Murphy
The beautiful old fig tree located on Castle Drive, Lennox Head has sadly been cut down. Thank you to all that tried to stop this happening.
Licence to harm granted under new Biodiversity Act
A week ago, the old fig tree at Lennox Head was in the process of being cut down when a nest hollow containing Wood Duck eggs was discovered.
The distressed parent birds were seen circling the tree. Work was temporarily halted.
WIRES NR was consulted about removing the eggs and advice given by their Bird Coordinator with 15 years’ experience, Melanie Barsony that moving the eggs to another location would not work.
Birds recognise their nest position, not the eggs and the parent birds will abandon the eggs if the nest site is destroyed. Raising ducks from eggs is very problematic as they imprint so readily. This is especially so with Wood Duck who nest in tree hollows.
Once all eggs are laid, the eggs are incubated for 28 days and all hatch within 24 hours of each other. The parent ducks then fly to the ground and call to the ducklings, who have to make the ‘leap of faith’ from the tree hollow to the ground below to follow their parents. The ducklings are hard wired to recognise the particular call of the parent birds, which they have heard in the days preceding hatching. For these reasons, hatching Wood Duck eggs in an incubator has a very high chance of duck/human imprinting. Wildlife carers are trained to raise wild animals, not pets. An imprinted duck will be unlikely to survive in the wild.
Council agreed to leave coverage of branches over the hollow and there was talk of leaving the tree until after the ducklings has hatched.
WIRES NR received a call yesterday to inform us that under the new NSW Biodiversity Laws, Ballina Council has now been granted a ‘Licence to Harm’, which gives them permission to remove the eggs and continue work removing the rest of the tree.
This Licence to Harm allows three options:
1. Take eggs and get a wildlife care group to attempt to raise them
2. Relocate eggs into a surrogate nest where the parent ducks or other ducks MAY take over raising them
The new NSW Biodiversity Laws have removed existing protection for wildlife, and events such as these are likely to increase in the future.
WIRES Northern Rivers is extremely disappointed that the decision has been made to remove the duck eggs and urges Ballina Council to wait a few weeks to allow the ducklings to hatch.
If you would like to voice your concern, here are some contacts:
Gladys Berejiklian - State Premier -
Gabrielle Upton - Minister for the Environment, Minister for Local Government, and Minister for Heritage -
It is presently Barn Owl chick fledging time and the dry weather and lack of food is causing many of these youngsters to get into trouble.
This recently fledged Barn Owl had become entangled in fruit tree netting while foraging one night. The netting had been left hanging loosely around a vegetable garden, and the little owl had accidently flown into it and became entangled.
Fortunately he was discovered early the next day, and WIRES was called. WIRES volunteer Kim immediately went to the site and gently untangled the young owl who was hanging upside down by one foot.
He was extremely dehydrated from his struggles and had a swollen and sore foot and leg. Vet assessment at Casino Vet Clinic confirmed no fractures and he was prescribed rest, fluids and medication for the swelling.
After a couple of weeks in care, he has almost fully recovered and is building up strength again in a flight aviary. He is also happily eating up to 7 mice per night, which just shows what wonderful rodent eradicators owls are!
The netting has since been removed and the little owl will be returned to his home soon.
If you need to use netting please ensure it is wildlife friendly. Information can be found here:
WILDLIFE FRIENDLY BACKYARD FRUIT NETTING
By Melanie Barsony
Ending up in the mouth of a cat was not the intention of this little Noisy Minor when he left the nest for the first time. The cat’s owner Simon was quick to react; he retrieved the little bird and called WIRES for help.
The fledgling was taken directly to North Coast Emergency Vet in Ballina for assessment. No broken bones, antibiotics were prescribed as without them there would be little chance of a full recovery.
Not looking to well WIRES volunteer Deb really didn’t think he would make it through the night.
After feeding him he was given thermal support overnight and lots of fingers were crossed that the antibiotics would give him a second chance.
Deb was delighted to wake up to sound of the little fellow chirping the following morning.
He was given antibiotics for 5 days and spent a few hours outside daily, he was growing, putting on weight, fluttering his wings and after a week it was time to find his parents, he was almost ready to fly.
Deb contacted Simon and it was agreed that the cat would be kept inside till the little fellow now named Little Trooper was able to fly with confidence.
Deb arrived with Little Trooper and at first was not entirely sure she had located the correct family of Minors. His family came and went, looking at him… it seemed they were unsure, but finally they decided that, although he had grown, he was their chick. After 45 minutes they started feeding him, Deb knew it would all be ok.
Deb received the photo above from Simon showing Little Trooper safely between his parents the following day.
Should your cat catch a bird and you are able to save it please call WIRES for help immediately. The sooner the bird is treated the better its chance of recovery.
Images by Deborah Pearce and Simon
Now is a great time to install nesting boxes
Many Australian birds and mammals need nest hollows to shelter and raise their young. Birds such as parrots, rosellas, kookaburras and most owls rely on hollows to lay eggs and raise chicks. Possums, gliders, microbats and antechinus also need hollows and some animals prefer multiple sites to rotate and avoid predators.
It takes many decades for trees to grow large enough to have suitable nest spaces. With so many old growth trees being removed from our landscapes, wildlife are left competing for scarce sites. Space is even more critical now that the introduced Indian Mynahs are increasing dramatically in numbers in the Northern Rivers. They also use nest hollows and aggressively drive out native birds.
Now is a really good time of the year to install nesting boxes, ahead of August and September, when birds become serious about identifying nesting locations for spring.
Consider buying or building your own nest boxes to provide additional options for native birds and wildlife. There are many websites that provide habitat box designs. Different animals and birds prefer different sized boxes, with different sized holes, but will often make do with whatever habitat is available. So don’t let the many box design ideas confuse you into inaction!
Every nest box that we put out into our local habitat is likely to provide a home for someone. A safe place for parents to raise their young will save many baby birds and animals and ensure a harmonious living environment for humans as well.
Nest box for Boobok owl
Local Mens’ Sheds will often build and sell nest boxes, or search the following websites for nest box plans: WIRES, Birds in Backyards, Birdlife Australia or Wildlife Queensland. For further information call WIRES Northern Rivers hotline (66 281898).
WIRES - https://www.wires.org.au/wildlife-info/wildlife-factsheets/wildlife-nest-boxes
Birds in Backyards - http://www.birdsinbackyards.net/Nest-Box-Plans
Wildlife Queensland - http://wildlife.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/nestbox_instructions.pdf
Birdlife Australia - http://www.birdlife.org.au/images/uploads/education_sheets/INFO-Nestbox-technical.pdf
Images by Julie Marsh, Melanie Barsony, Sharon McGrigor and Deb Pearse.
Is it spring already?
WIRES is being kept busy with many chicks coming into care. As mentioned yesterday WIRES volunteer Julie went straight from reuniting two Crested pigeon chicks with their parents, to pick up a little Plover chick from Lismore vet clinic.
This little chick was found alone on a veranda at Alstonville. Julie was able to locate the parents and the chick was reunited with its parents the following morning.
Another Plover chick came into care the same day after being found at Goonellabah, sadly it died overnight.
The Noisy Miners must also be thinking the warm days are signalling the start of spring. These chicks were lucky that Lachlan noticed an upturned nest on the ground in Casino. He searched the area nearby and located three chicks.
He placed them in a ‘Family pack’ box and kept them warm in his car with the heater on until a WIRES volunteer arrived.
After a careful check to make sure the chicks were uninjured after their fall, WIRES volunteer Melanie was able to reunite them with the parent birds. The fallen nest was placed inside an outer support made from gutter guard that Melanie had brought along just in case a chance to reunite the chicks was possible.
The parent birds kept a close eye on their chicks while all of this was happening and the ‘Family pack’ box suddenly took on a new meaning!
As soon as the chicks were placed in their newly secured nest, the parent birds arrived with food for their chicks.
Images by Julie Marsh and Melanie Barsony
Earlier this week Jamie was pruning branches when he noticed a baby bird on the ground, he quickly gathered it up, placed it in a box with a soft cloth and called WIRES.
Living close to Animal Rights and Rescue he took the tiny bird there as he was unable to wait for our volunteer to arrive.
Meanwhile the WIRES volunteer responding to the call went to Jamie’s address. As she was leaving she noticed something moving on the ground, it was a tiny Crested Pigeon chick. At the same time a call came through that Animal Rights and Rescue had a tiny Crested Pigeon chick needing to come into care, obviously the one from Jamie.
The siblings were reunited and quickly snuggled up together.
WIRES volunteer Julie made a substitute nest and drove back to Jamie’s place. The chicks were safely in the car being kept warm on the drive.
Julie placed the nest in the tree that had been pruned and noticed an adult Crested pigeon watching intently. Julie placed the chicks in the nest and almost instantly the parent bird flew to her chicks.
Julie left the scene knowing the chicks were safe as another call came through from WIRES hotline; a Plover chick had been orphaned.
Images by Julie Marsh
Fledgling Barn Owl lives to hunt another day
On Monday 2nd July the WIRES Northern Rivers hotline (02 66281898) received a call from Terania Creek about a Barn Owl that was being attacked by other birds. The caller, Josh, was able to contain the Barn Owl and meet a WIRES volunteer at Dunoon.
On rescue it was ascertained that this was a young bird. At the moment Barn Owl chicks are fledging from their hollows and some are getting into trouble. If they are caught in the open when the sun comes up other birds start attacking them.
The WIRES volunteer arranged for the Owl to be assessed by vet Richard, at Lismore Vet Clinic. Thankfully this little one had no injuries - just a few ruffled feathers. She was, however, weak and undernourished.
Possibly due to the dryer conditions, there appears to be less rats and mice around this year and some owl families are struggling to find enough food for their young.
This young bird was very fortunate. After a week in care with WIRES it gained weight and strength and was able to be returned to Terania Creek to be released back with its family.
Two other local residents, Benita and Phil, assisted with the Owl’s release. It flew out of the box and straight up to their barn roof - which was very fitting! Another Barn Owl was seen in the tree next to it, most likely a member of its family.
Please remember that rat baits kill more than just rodents, and many of our native wildlife suffer a slow death from secondary poisoning. Owls are extremely efficient hunters and a pair of owls with chicks can easily take up to 10 rats per night. With the ongoing loss of large old trees with hollows, a nest box is a good way to encourage owls to your neighbourhood and encourage natural pest control.
WIRES is always looking for new members and we particularly need more volunteers in the Terania area. If you are interested in helping wildlife, get in touch with us on 66281898 or send us an email..
Images by Julie Marsh & Melanie Barsony
Iksha the Squirrel Glider
On 7th May the WIRES Hotline received a call for an injured glider, found lying on the ground in bushland at Mountain Top (between Jiggi and Nimbin). WIRES volunteer Julie picked the glider up. It was a female Squirrel Glider - a threatened species - and it was covered in very small maggots and eggs – just hatched and hatching.
Julie transported her to WIRES volunteers, Don and Renata, and the three dedicated carers spent an hour removing maggots and maggot eggs from all over the gliders body. The infestation was so bad that the only hope of getting rid of the maggots was to give her a bath in an appropriate medication.
Sadly two dead embryonic joeys were found in her pouch. They were removed post haste. The glider was exhausted, hydration and rest were the main priority, with regular checks for re-hatching of maggots, but the bath had solved that problem.
The glider was closely observed, neurological issues were suspected but it soon became evident that her problem was an eye injury, with one eye now displaying a large ulceration.
After examination by Lismore Central Vet Clinic and consultation with Currumbin Wildlife Hospital it was agreed that with treatment, full recovery was possible.
Iksha (meaning ‘sight’), as she was named, required intensive treatment with eye drops given eight times a day. This was a difficult task as gliders are feisty, difficult to handle and can deliver a very nasty bite. For three weeks she was kept in a smaller cage and was transported to the vet for regular checkups.
The improvement was considerable and once her eye treatment was decreased to four times a day she was transferred to a larger aviary where she could regain strength.
Iksha was finally released back to her family at Mountain Top last Thursday night, as soon as WIRES volunteer Julie reached the tree where Iksha was found 8 weeks previously she shot out of the basket and up into the tree- she was home.
Many thanks to the vets and vet nurses at Lismore Central Vet for treating Iksha – despite her biting!
Atlas the Dog saves miracle joey
WIRES all too frequently receives calls about wallabies that have been attacked by dogs. Sadly, the outcome is almost always tragic. So in March this year when the WIRES Hotline was phoned about a joey that had been brought in by a dog, WIRES expected the worst.
The little Swamp wallaby was delivered by the caller to the Byron Bay vet, who called WIRES. He was flat and non-responsive, and neither the vet nor the WIRES carer expected Atlas to last the night. But this little joey was a fighter and, after a week of intensive care, he started to turn the corner.
Once on the way to good health his WIRES carer contacted the member of the public whose dog had brought the joey in to update them on progress and to find out what really happened. Only then did the miracle of the story become clear.
As it transpired, a dead wallaby had been seen some four or five days beforehand on the periphery of the caller’s property. Their dog, a Belgian Sheppard named Atlas, had been seen sniffing at the body days before, but it was assumed the wallaby was long dead and no one went to check.
Far from attacking the joey, Atlas the dog was curious about the small joey that was no doubt struggling and calling inside its mum’s pouch. In a remarkable show of compassion, Atlas finally took the joey out of his dead mother’s pouch and carried it to his humans, laying him at their feet. In fact, Atlas the dog saved this little joey’s life, as without him the joey would perished unfound in the pouch.
Atlas the joey is going from strength to strength and in a couple of months will be released back into the wild. He is pictured here (on the right) with Isla (on the left) who came into care about the same time.
Please always check the pouch of any dead wallaby or kangaroo you see on the side of the road, even if you are unsure if it it has been dead for a while. You might just be saving a little life. Once you have checked the pouch, drag the body away out of sight so others don’t need to re-check. Of course not all dogs are as wildlife friendly as Atlas. Please always keep dogs contained and never let them chase wildlife. And if you do find a joey, immediately call the WIRES local 24 hour rescue Hotline (66281898) for advice and assistance.
Image by Tricia Griffin
A shiny green bird was found at roadworks near Uralba earlier this week; it was taken to Alstonville vet where it was examined by vet Michael.
No injuries were found, but any bird able to be picked up is obviously in trouble, this little bird was absolutely exhausted.
It was collected by WIRES volunteer Julie and identified as a Shining Bronze-Cuckoo. After rehydration, food and rest its energy levels were quickly restored.
The Shining Bronze-Cuckoo is partly migratory with some members of the species known to migrate from New Zealand to South West Pacific Islands via Eastern Australia, no wonder this little bird was exhausted.
This morning the bird was released to continue on its long journey.
The Shining Bronze-Cuckoo feeds on insects especially hairy caterpillars.
An interesting fact about these birds is their gizzard is lined with a soft thick lining which catches the hairy caterpillar spines, these fall away and are spat out by the bird.
By Julie Marsh
Sooty Saved with a Singe
Last week, when Brian from Pimlico lit the fire in his slow combustion stove, smoke poured out into the room. The flue was obviously blocked. Almost immediately after, a possum dropped into the fire. Brian acted quickly and put the fire out, but was unsure if the possum had sustained burns. He called WIRES for help.
Sooty, as the young possum was named, was extremely lucky. After rescue and examination it turned out that she had sustained minimal damage as she had avoided the hot part of the fire box. Her main concern was smoke inhalation.
Possums, gliders and many bird species use hollows as homes. Sadly, as human habitat expands, these are no longer as easy to find. A chimney or flue looks very much like a hollow log and clearly this possum had been seeking shelter in this man-made home.
Sooty is fairly young and should most certainly have still been with her mum. However she was not in good body condition, indicating she may have lost her mum some time prior to sheltering in Brian’s flue. She has now been in care with WIRES for a week and is doing well. Shortly she will be transferred to a large aviary till she is ready to be released back to the wild.
If you have a fireplace it is a good idea to ensure you have an adjustable stainless steel chimney cap. It is the only way to prevent animals from entering your chimney or flue.
Please call WIRES on 66281898 should you find a native animal in trouble.
Image by Jeanette Dundas
A long recovery but hope in sight for this magnificent Sea-Eagle
This unfortunate juvenile White-bellied Sea-Eagle became trapped when her back talon hooked in power lines at Palmers Island near Grafton. As she struggled to free herself, she ended up hanging upside down from the wire for hours. Origin Energy was called and the power was turned off while an employee climbed the pole and unhooked her talon from the power lines.
Image by Tony Bowman
Fortunately, there had been some leakage of power to earth, so while the eagle suffered burns, she had not been instantly killed, as sadly is often the case. She was transported by WIRES volunteer Tony to the vet for immediate assessment and then transferred to Melanie, a WIRES raptor carer in Casino.
White-bellied Sea-Eagles are a threatened species and only with a team effort from several dedicated WIRES volunteers and specialised veterinary assistance would this eagle have a chance of survival.
The young eagle had suffered a number of burns, some deep causing muscle and cartilage damage. Over the first few weeks she was regularly transported by WIRES volunteer raptor carer Melanie to Casino Veterinary Clinic where three separate surgeries was performed by Dr. Ed King.
As her wounds slowly healed antibiotics and ointment had to be administered and applied daily; not an easy task when one is dealing with an eagle.
Three months after rescue, she was given a clean bill of health and she was transferred back to WIRES volunteer raptor handler Danny in Grafton. Here she was placed into an intermediary aviary to regain strength. She has now been transferred to a large circular rehabilitation aviary where she can exercise freely and regain her peak physical fitness before release.
It has been a long haul for this beautiful eagle; it involved Origin Energy, specialised veterinary treatment from Casino Veterinary Clinic and a number of dedicated WIRES volunteers, all intent on seeing this threatened species flying free once again.
Images by Melanie Barsony
We think of spring as the time for chicks, but autumn and winter is also busy for WIRES avian carers.
Julie is a WIRES volunteer and writes: in the past 3 weeks I have had and have numerous birds and chicks in care. Just a few examples:
Two young Bar-shouldered Doves came down nest and all when a tree was pruned. They were reunited with the parent birds by placing a substitute nest in a nearby tree.
A Crested Pigeon chick came to the ground in extreme wet and windy weather conditions. It was safely returned to the the nest as soon as the weather cleared.
A White-headed Pigeon chick was found on the ground, sadly it couldn't be reunited and is currently in care. An exact location of where the bird is found is so important for a successful reunite, please make sure you take notice of the exact location and let WIRES know when you call.
Seven Pacific Black Ducklings are in care after the mother duck was struck by a car and killed, they will be joined by another little duckling orphaned when its family crossed a busy road and promptly disappeared before this little one had time to catch up.
Dave a WIRES volunteer when driving home from work this week stopped to rescue a mother Pacific Black Duck and her duckling. The mother duck had been hit by a car. It was dark, cold and wet not all the ducklings were rescued as they scattered in all directions into the long grass, but mumma duck and one duckling were rescued. They were examined by Jane at Lismore Vet Clinic and given the all clear. They were returned home to Corndale the following day. Let us hope mumma duck found the rest of her family safe and sound.
If you come across a family of ducks crossing the road, slow down, put your hazard lights on to warn others and allow the family to cross. They move very quickly, your delay will be short, for the family of ducks you may save their lives.
Plovers are currently busy with their young families. They nest on the ground, are extremely proud and vigilant parents and just like us they protect their young. Let’s give them a bit of space, understanding and time to raise their chicks.
This week not far from where I live two Masked Lapwing chicks have hatched. They are running around with 2 vigilant parent birds to guard and keep them warm.
Winter is still a busy time for WIRES volunteer Avian carers.
By Julie Marsh
WIRES is busy with many joeys in care and urgently need your help
Each winter, as the days get shorter and there are more cars on the roads at dusk and dawn, wallabies and kangaroos are at great risk. This year WIRES Northern Rivers is very busy with a large number of joeys; many from road accidents, but some have become separated from their mums and left alone after being chased by dogs. Each little orphan is scared, cold and alone.
WIRES need pouches for joeys in care
Do you have a sewing machine or overlocker?
Joeys come into care at all stages of development, small or large all need pouches in order to feel safe and secure. If you have an overlocker WIRES currently need pouches made from towels, thicker soft cotton (like baby blankets) or woollen blankets. Sizes from 30x30cm to about 70x70cm are urgently required.
Pouch liners are made from soft cotton (no synthetic fibres). They should look like pillow cases – slightly longer than they are wide. Again, sizes from 30cm square to 70cm square are useful. Curved bottom corners are ideal.
Do you knit? We need more knitted pouches for younger joeys. These MUST be made from pure wool (not synthetics). Suggested pattern: 8 ply 100% pure wool. 4.5mm knitting needles (Size 7). Dimensions can be any size from 15 cm wide and 25 cm long, to 30 cm wide and 50 cm long. Pouches should be knitted in plain stitch or 2 pearl, 2 plain. If crochet just plain stitch is fine. Once finished fold in half and neatly stich both sides together leaving opening at the top.
Small pouch: cast on 35 stitches. Knit a strip 40cm in length. Finished lenth 20cm.
Medium pouch: cast on 45 stitches. Knit a strip 50cm. Finished length 25cm.
Large pouch: cast on 55 stitches. Knit a strip 60cm. Finished length 30cm.
Donations of good, clean wool or cotton blankets, towels and cotton fabric, or pure wool for knitting are always welcome. We also currently need old-fashion bayonetted light globes (for our heat boxes), and larger bull-dog clips.
If you are able to assist please call us for further advice and details and drop-off locations in the Northern Rivers area. Call our 24-hour hotline – 66281898.
Thank you to our wonderful community and everyone who came to share in the Lismore Lantern Parade.
What a special event this was.
Lots of activities for all, children were busy with native animal drawing/collage, decorated lanterns, animal masks and ears, flapping bats on bamboo sticks, guessing how many gummy snakes were in a jar and talking to our WIRES volunteers at the Quad before the Parade.
Mullumbimby Public School celebrated World Environment Day recently with lots of activities focussing on protecting the environment. The gold coin donation collected was generously allocated to the local branch of WIRES to assist with feeding flying-foxes, wallabies and possums in care.
WIRES volunteers Barbara and Colleen attended the School assembly and explained how the donation would be used to support native animals in care.
Students from the Environment Committee were presented with a certificate and book with thanks for their wonderful fundraising activities on behalf of local wildlife.
WIRES is very grateful to the school students and teachers for this wonderful initiative to help our injured and orphaned wildlife.
Echidna season is here
Many current calls to our hotline are regarding echidnas that are spotted in house yards. Sometimes the animal has “dug in” or rolled into a ball, which are its ways of defending itself when it feels insecure and in danger. The best solution is to leave the echidna alone, remove the threat (usually the family dog) and the echidna will go on its way once it feels secure. Echidnas have a great memory, and it is unlikely that it will return after a frightening experience.
As the weather gets cooler, echidnas become more active and are starting to travel further afield looking for a mate. If you are very lucky you might see as many as 10 echidnas walking in a line. This is called an echidna train. The female is in the lead with males behind in order of size! She may lead them around for 6 weeks before choosing a mate.
Unfortunately, this increased activity makes echidnas more vulnerable on the roads. Please be alert when you drive to avoid injuring an echidna. Echidnas don't move very quickly, so please slow down to allow them to safely cross - and keep an eye out for injured animals that may be on the side of the road.
Echnidnas aren’t easy animals to handle! The echidna's sharp spines, called quills, cover its back and moult every year. Each individual spine has a muscle attached to its base, giving the animal control over the movement and direction of its spines and enabling it to anchor itself firmly onto many surfaces by using the erect spines.
If you find an echidna on the road, it may have been hit. Injuries are not always apparent. If you can, cover with a towel and move it off the road. Please stay with the animal and call WIRES right away. Do not put the echidna in your car uncontained as it may bed itself in and be very difficult to remove.
When you ring our Hotline (66 28 1898), one of our members will talk you through the situation and how you can assist until a rescuer arrives. It is also very important to know where the echidna is from as we always aim to return them to their home territory where they are likely to have a burrow.
Image by Sharon McGrigor
A lifting experience for this Barn Owl Nestling
This little Barn Owl nestling found itself in real trouble when it accidently fell about 6 metres from its nest box. For a number of years, the owls at Lindendale had been using the purpose built nest boxes erected by Ken and Louise, who encourage the owls in their macadamia plantation as natural rodent control agents.
After falling to the ground the owl chick was fortunately found by Ken and Louise and they called WIRES straight away for help. The chick was collected and transported by WIRES volunteer Marion to Lismore where he was carefully assessed by experienced avian carer Kim. Amazingly he had survived the fall unscathed. He was kept quiet and warm in a substitute nest box and happily ate four mice throughout the night.
Reuniting chicks with their family is always the best outcome, but the next day Kim discovered the nest box was too high to reach. So Steve Cubis Tree Services from South Lismore were called and Steve kindly made the trip out to Lindendale with his cherry picker.
Once high enough to inspect the nest box, it was discovered that the roof had been damaged, so some hasty repairs were made before the little owl chick was placed safely back inside where the parent birds were quietly waiting.
Please remember that rat baits kill more than just the rodents, and many of our native wildlife suffer a slow death from secondary poisoning. Owls are extremely efficient hunters and a pair of owls with chicks can easily take up to 10 rats per night. With the ongoing loss of large old trees with hollows, a nest box is a good way to encourage owls to your neighbourhood.
Some great nest box plans can be found here if you would like to erect a nest box and encourage natural pest control.
Images by Marion Nel and Kim McCully
Possums at risk as the days shorten
As the days shorten and winter approaches, more cars are on the road at dusk, dawn and dark. Sadly, this means that many nocturnal animals become victims on our roads.
Possums are particularly at risk at this time of the year, and WIRES has been receiving a large number of calls about injured, deceased and orphaned possums. Yesterday there was a particularly sad case where a mother Ringtail and her little joey were both found dead on Richmond Hill road.
In the Northern Rivers region we predominantly have two types of possums. The Ringtail possum (pictured) is a red-brown colour and has a long tail with a white tip. They are smaller in size than the Brushtail possum, which can be black to grey in in colour.
As with all marsupials, it is very important to check any possum that is killed on the road. If it is female there may be joeys in her pouch or nearby if they were riding on her back. In many cases the joeys can be saved.
While Brushtail possums generally only have one baby at a time (very rarely they will have twins), the Ringtail possum is likely to have 2-3 joeys at any time. So always look around in case there is another joey nearby. Call WIRES for advice on how to check a pouch and to arrange a rescue.
Most importantly, always drive carefully at dawn and dusk and slow down in areas with bushland around the roadsides. A possum, wallaby or any nocturnal marsupial life might just be able to be saved.
Image by Sharon McGrigor
WIRES Volunteers: Giving Wildlife a Second Chance
National Volunteers Week (21-27th May) is an opportunity to acknowledge the many diverse roles that wildlife carers play in helping injured and orphaned native animals across the Northern Rivers - 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
When little joeys like Carob and Coffee Bean are orphaned, a whole team of local WIRES volunteers help to give them a second chance.
Trained volunteer Hotliners take calls in their own homes - morning, noon and night. They are on the front line to provide initial advice to the public and arrange for one of our rescuers to respond when needed.
A network of WIRES members spread across the region, from Crabbes Creek in the North, to New Italy in the South and Drake in the West are on call to pick up or take delivery of native animals and provide essential first aid and initial care.
Some WIRES members are full-time carers, providing round the clock nurture for animals in their own home. Making milk, bottling, feeding – sometimes 6-7 times a day, and washing the many pouches and towels is an enormous but highly rewarding job. However these carers can’t do what they do without the contributions of so many other volunteers, many of whom operate quietly behind the scenes.
There are those who stock and distribute food supplies and equipment; those who assist with fundraising activities; those who come along to working bees to build and maintain cages and yards; and those who do the many administrative roles that keep the local WIRES Branch running smoothly.
Importantly, WIRES acknowledges the invaluable role played by local vets, who also volunteer their time so generously to assist wildlife in significant need.
Every contribution made by our volunteers, big or small, makes a huge difference to each and every little life that is saved.
WIRES rely on the generosity of the public. If you would like to donate or are interested in becoming a member, contact WIRES Northern Rivers on 6628 1898
Any time is a great time to join WIRES and start learning to be a wildlife rescuer. Contact WIRES for rescues, advice or enquiries. The 24-hour hotline is for all calls to WIRES in the Northern Rivers - 6628 1898.
Image by Allison Pon
A relaxing fishing trip was cut short for two fellows fishing in the Wilson River at Lismore when this Brisbane short-necked turtle thought it had caught a tasty meal. It was hooked with no chance of escape.
WIRES was promptly contacted but the carer was unable to safely remove the hook. The Turtle was in need of surgery.
The turtle was driven to Currumbin Wildlife Hospital where the hook was finally removed during surgery, but the turtles ordeal was not yet over. Two months of treatment followed.
Finally yesterday it was given the all clear and the turtle was brought back to the WIRES carer in Lismore. Earlier today it was released back home in the Wilson River where we hope it will stay well clear of fishing lines and hooks in the future. Seen in this picture at release, heading to the safety of the water in the Wilson River in Lismore.
Should you be out fishing and accidentally hook a turtle, please do not attempt to remove the hook or cut the line and let the turtle go, please call WIRES straight away for help, or if in business hours take it to your nearest veterinary clinic.
Image by Marion Nel
Migratory bird day
Saturday May 12th is World Migratory Bird day; an opportunity to raise awareness about the need to protect migratory birds and their habitats - in all parts of the world.
Autumn heralds a time of change for many of our wildlife, but in particular migratory birds begin their long haul flights to other environments. Migrations are tuned to the seasons and are a response to the fact that when it is winter in the northern hemisphere it is summer in the southern hemisphere. Birds arrive in Australia in August or September and leave in March or April to return to their breeding grounds in the tundra areas of Siberia and, for some, Alaska, to breed in June and July.
While many migratory birds are shorebirds, a number of other land-based birds also migrate. Channel-billed Cuckoos, for example, are Australia’s largest cuckoo and are very distinctive with their huge curved bill and strikingly barred tail. They travel south from New Guinea, Indonesia or the Bismarck Archipelago to Australia from August to October where they breed, before heading north again around March.
Channel-billed Cuckoos are not nocturnal, but they can often be heard vocalising at night, with their loud 'kwark, wark, wark'. The adults feed mostly on native figs and fruits, but will also take insects and sometimes chicks. Like other cuckoos, the adult bird lays her egg (occasionally two) in a host nest, usually of larger birds such as crows, ravens, currawongs or magpies and occasionally smaller species such as Magpie Larks. The chick does not push out the other eggs or chicks like some cuckoos but they are fast-growing with a voracious appetite. Chicks eat whatever the host feeds them, most often insects.
Another small local partly migratory bird is the Shining Bronze-Cuckoo. This cuckoo has iridescent green upper parts, white underparts with bold dark, mostly unbroken barring, and a very white face with fine, dark mottling. Some migrate from breeding areas in New Zealand, Norfolk and Chatham Islands to South-West Pacific islands via eastern Australia. Others breed in Tasmania, eastern Australia and south-west Australia and migrate as far north as New Guinea and the Lesser Sundas.
Migration is a perilous journey and birds face many threats, often caused by human activities. Flying long distances involves crossing many borders between countries with differing environmental politics, legislation and conservation measures. World Migratory Bird day is an opportunity to acknowledge the ecological importance of migratory birds and address the need for international cooperation to conserve them.
More information about World Migratory Bird Day can be found at http://www.worldmigratorybirdday.org
Young Channel-billed Cuckoo who was rescued on the ground while still a nestling and was raised and released by a WIRES carer.
Image by Melanie Barsony
WIRES receive animals into care for a variety of reasons and sometimes it can be hard to ascertain exactly what has actually happened.
This adult female Squirrel glider came into care after it was brought into a house by the dog.
Squirrel gliders rarely come to the ground; they are arboreal and very adept at climbing. When they wish to move further afield they use the membranes of skin (called a patagium) that stretches between their front and back legs to glide from tree to tree. They steer and maintain stability by varying the curvature of either the left or right membrane. As they approach to land, they bring their hind legs closer to their body, make an upward swoop and land on the bark utilising their sharp claws to grip. They have been observed to glide up to 100 metres with the assistance of a downhill slope.
As with any travel, accidents can happen, and this is also the case for Squirrel gliders. If a strong wind is present, or distance of a branch is misjudged, the glider may not land as intended, but hit head first resulting in a concussion and end up on the ground.
Is that what happened to this glider, is that the reason it was able to be picked up by the tail by a dog? We will never know. What we do know is that this glider was not severely injured; it was kept in care for 4 days to ensure all limbs were functioning, appetite was good and all body functions normal.
Squirrel gliders are territorial and she was released well after dark back onto the property where she had come from in order for her to be reunited with her family.
Thank you Ruth for calling WIRES and for taking these pictures when the glider was released.
Plumed Whistling Ducks do not come into care as often as Wood Ducks and Pacific Black Ducks, so it has been quite a treat to have three of them come in at once.
The three young ducks were found alone in a swimming pool at 2am at Meerschaum Vale in early April, when Ashley and her family were alerted to their presence by their pet dog. The ducklings were too young to be on their own and would have been an easy target for predators. An extensive search of the area failed to find their parents, so they were brought into care. They were named P, W and D.
The Plumed Whistling Duck is a tall, long necked duck, with prominent long off-white plumes edged in black along the flanks. It is found in the northern and eastern tropics of Australia, and extends southwards to eastern New South Wales.
They can be found sometimes in large numbers on the edges of lagoons, mangrove creeks and swamps where they preen and sleep during the day, then at night they fly out to feed on grasslands, often a long distance away.
The three orphaned ducks will be in care for another 2-4 weeks while their flight feathers grow. Once able to fend for themselves, they will be released on a large dam in Meerschaum Vale with others of the same species, near to where they were found.
Image by Barbara Wilkins
Now is a great time to join WIRES. Our next workshop will be held in Lismore on May 27th. Complete the online part of our course in the next 2-3 weeks and then join us for the practical workshop.
Give us a call 66281898 for more information about how you can join and contribute.
Jenny was on her way home from work quite late at night when she came across a wallaby on the road. Jenny stopped. Sadly the wallaby was dead but inside her pouch Jenny found a very young joey very much alive.
Jenny gently removed the joey from the pouch wrapped her warmly, drove home and called WIRES.
The joey was named Toona due to the location being near Toonambar Dam.
Toona had not escaped injury; she had a significant bang to head and lots of bruising and gravel rash around head and one toe. Jenny was given vital information on how to help the joey overnight.
The following morning she met with WIRES. Jenny had done a magnificent job caring for Toona overnight, the first few hours can determine the long term outcome for these orphans, good or bad, Jenny had ensured the outcome for Toona would be positive.
Toona spent the next few weeks in a humidicrib in intensive care, her wounds healed and she has thrived in care.
After 5 weeks in care she is now at a stage of development where she is big enough to meet other joeys in care and yesterday she joined a number of other orphaned Red-Neck wallabies. Her journey back to the wild is well under way.
Thank you Jenny for caring and for calling WIRES.
Images by Renata Phelps & Julie Marsh
Rush hour for reptiles
As the days become shorter and cooler we start to pull out the winter woollies and look forward to cosy nights by the fire - if we are lucky enough to have such a luxury.
While humans can adapt to the changing seasons by rugging up and keeping warm, life is not so easy for our native animal friends.
As mammals we have evolved as warm blooded creatures and have developed the amazing ability to thermoregulate; that is to say, our bodies can generate heat to support our vital organs in cold weather. Our opposing thumbs also enable us to build shelter and create warmth. Not so for our native reptile friends.
As ectothermic animals, reptiles rely entirely on their environment for the heat they need to function and to digest their food. As winter approaches lizards and snakes are hard wired to build up their reserves in preparation for the cold months ahead.
As the temperature drops snakes are actively chasing food, helping to keep the rat population at bay and are also seeking out a quiet cosy place to curl up for winter.
For the forthcoming colder months, reptiles will enter a state known as brumation. Brumation is similar to hibernation in mammals where their body slows and energy consumption is minimised. While reptiles do disappear when the weather is cold, they do awaken again if we get a warm spell, and may come out of hiding to stretch and soak up some sunshine, before retreating again until Spring.
So right now is “rush hour” for our snakes. You may notice heightened activity in their haste to stock up for winter.
If you do encounter a snake or lizard outside it is best to just let him or her go on its way. In the event that one ventures indoors please call WIRES 66281898 and they will help to get it back where it belongs.
Image by Sharon McGrigor
Thank you to Students at Jiggi Public School for your generous donation to WIRES.
Students at Jiggi Public School celebrated the end of the school term with a wildlife picnic. Students bought along nonliving native wildlife to join them on a beautiful Autumn day picnic. All fauna groups were represented from a red-bellied black snake, a seagull and even a Tasmanian Devil. Money collected will be used by WIRES to help with the rescue, rehabilitation and release of native wildlife. Julie Reid a WIRES and Jiggi Landcare member was on hand to collect the generous donation.
Tristan from Bexhill found his tractor to have a flat battery.
When Tristan lifted the engine cover he discovered a soundly sleeping Coastal Carpet Python inside the cowling of the engine fan. Had this python not been discovered prior to the engine being turned on it would have been severely injured.
WIRES snake handler Marion attended this call, and slowly coaxed the snake out. It was a slow process as the python seemed to know the engine well, including all the best hiding places.
After some time and encouragement Marion was able to get a good grip on its head and remove it from the tractor.
The python was finally relocated unharmed to a creek bank close by.
Thank you Tristan for calling WIRES.
Did the Easter Bilby call at your place?
The idea of the Easter Bilby is much older than many people think. This Australian alternative to the Easter Bunny was first documented in 1968 when a 9-year-old girl, Rose-Marie Dusting, wrote a story titled "Billy The Aussie Easter Bilby" – a story published 11 years later. In 1991 the Foundation for Rabbit-Free Australia developed the idea to increase awareness of the environmental damage caused by feral rabbits. Later, several confectionary manufacturers started creating chocolate bilbies, and several additional children’s books were published around this theme.
WIRES regularly receives calls from people who have spotted what they think is a Bilby. However Bilbys are not found in the Northern Rivers area of NSW.
While Bilbys were once common in many habitats throughout Australia, the Lesser Bilby is now believed to be extinct and the Greater Bilby is on the endangered list. The latter occur only in fragmented populations in the Northern Territory; in the Gibson and Great Sandy Deserts and the Pilbara and Kimberley regions of Western Australia; and the Mitchell Grasslands of southwest Queensland.
In the Northern Rivers of NSW, our Easter eggs are far more likely to be delivered to us by a Northern Brown or a Long-nosed Bandicoot. Other animals that might be mistaken for a Bilby include the rarely sighted Long-nosed Potaroo (which is listed as vulnerable to extinction) or Pademelons – with both the Red-necked and Red-legged pademelon found in our area (the latter is also listed as vulnerable).
All these small marsupials deserve our recognition as native alternatives to the Easter Rabbit.
Pictured here is Marlou, a Red-necked Pademelon, currently in care with WIRES.
Image by Jeanette Dundas
Hayla the Ringtail’s remarkable rescue
Normally dogs and wildlife are a deadly combination. WIRES regularly receive calls about animals that have been attacked, injured or killed by pet dogs. However this little Ringtail possum owes it’s life to a very special dog.
Hayla, a Maremma/Blue Heeler cross, works on a farm in Myocum, protecting the livestock from foxes, dogs and other predators. Hayla has never ceased to amaze her owner Lindsay with her work ethic and instinct to protect all farm animals particularly the young, sick and vulnerable.
“She regularly checks on the turkeys nesting in the paddock and then is on hand to welcome the newborn chicks. She alerts the humans to any birds trapped or in distress. She identifies the cows ready to calve and then guards the calves. She will sit all day with an orphaned calf being fed in the yards” Lindsay said.
This week, Hayla displayed a new level of care.
Lindsay had found a dead female ringtail possum on their property two days earlier.
Then, during the night, Hayla located an orphaned female baby possum, which we assume had been separated from her dying mum.
Hayla managed to get the possum joey to attach to the fur on her back, keeping it warm, and then presenting it to Lindsay and his family at 6am the following morning.
The tiny (88g) possum is now in care with a WIRES volunteer. She will be buddied up with another ringtail currently in care, and they be released together as a little family when they are about 8 months old.
The little possum has been named Hayla in recognition of the wonderful work of her canine rescuer. Well done Hayla - you truly are a wonder dog.
Images by Lindsay
WIRES regularly receive calls for sick, injured or orphaned animals from The Channon, Tuntable and Keerong areas.
The 3rd of February proved to be a particularly eventful night, with two Pademelon joeys found all alone.
One older joey was spotted outside a house at Tuntable, and after consulting with one of our macropod carers, it was determined he was too young to be by himself. This joey (later named Sapote) was easily caught and brought into care, where once he had settled joined two Pademelon joeys already in care, one of which was rescued from Upper Tuntable Falls Road back in December. Sapote can be seen in the picture below he is the one in front.
The second little Pademelon joey found on the road by itself that night- was very young and barely furred. Mum was probably hit by a car, but managed to hop off, leaving her joey behind. Sadly it is not uncommon for young joeys to fall out of the pouch from the impact when mum is hit.
Thankfully Mandy noticed her while driving past and met one of our volunteers. Mandy named this joey Marlou, she can be seen below being fed by our volunteer macropod carer.
Marlou will join other Pademelon orphans once she is a bit older. All will be released back to the wild.
Thankfully these joeys were not injured, but of course not all our rescues have happy endings.
Below are just some of the other wildlife rescues where WIRES has been involved in the Terania area since December (2017)
A Grey Goshawk was hit by a car on Wallace Road. It was transported to one of our raptor specialists but sadly died as a result of its injuries.
A juvenile Tawny Frogmouth was found on Terania Creek Road with bad maggot-infested injuries from a suspected animal attack. Its injuries were too severe for us to save.
A little duckling was picked up by itself in the middle of Keerong Road and went into care with one of our bird specialists where it was introduced to a number of other ducklings. These will be reared together and released once old enough to fend for themselves.
A snake was found looking unwell in a pond at The Channon and, after consultation with one of our snake specialists it was ascertained that it was most likely shedding and advice was given to leaving it under observation.
WIRES is always looking for new members and we particularly need more volunteers in the Terania area. If you are interested in helping wildlife, get in touch with us.
Contact WIRES for rescues, advice or enquiries. The 24-hour hotline is for all calls to WIRES in the Northern Rivers - 6628 1898. www.wiresnr.org
Images by Fleur Letitia & Sue Ulyatt
People are often surprised to know that echidnas are very good climbers. With each spine controlled by a separate muscle they can scale fences and push their way past many obstacles.
Wildlife carers need special, deep tubs and enclosures when they rescue or care for an echidna so that they don’t escape.
When WIRES received a call from Peter at Dalwood they discovered an echidna that had definitely met its match. This echidna had fallen several metres down into a Macadamia hopper and definitely could not get out.
After trying several strategies to provide an escape means for the echidna, with no luck, the WIRES volunteer climbed down a ladder into the macadamia bin to wrestle with this strong animal and carry it back up the top. The metal sides were very slippery metal and presented a challenge for our volunteer and echidna alike. .
The echidna is very lucky to have been spotted by Peter and to have survived the ordeal. It has some skin off its back legs where it had been trying to dig on the metal bottom of the hopper but is now in care with one of WIRES’ echidna specialists and should make a speedy recovery before being returned to its home on the macadamia farm. We trust this particular echidna will stay clear of metal bins in the future.
Thank you Peter for calling WIRES.
Images by Leoni Byron-Jackson
'Hiccup' and 'Sneeze' are Pheasant Coucal fledglings. They are not siblings but buddies.
When orphaned they couldn’t be reunited with their parents so they are being raised together in WIRES care until they are independent.
It is so important for orphan birds to have a buddy when in care as it reduces the chances of the birds from becoming humanised.
These birds are wild and need to remain so to be successfully released.
If you find an injured or orphaned critter phone the WIRES Northern Rivers 24/7 Hotline service on 66281898.
By Julie Marsh
We are often prompted to take care with disposal of rubbish and to consider how it might affect the environment. Plastic of all kinds has a devastating effect on land and sea creatures. Even something as simple as paper masking tape can, however, be a death trap for wildlife.
When WIRES received a call about a snake that was caught in sticky tape, we expected it would be tangled in a heavy duty plastic tape. Our rescuer was surprised to find that the tape was normal paper masking tape which had been crumpled up and discarded. Of even more surprise, the tape had caught not only a Dwarf crown snake but also a little lizard, itself perhaps an intended meal for the snake.
Dwarf crown snakes average about 25cm in length. They are mildly venomous but not considered dangerous to humans because they are reluctant biters, relying more on bluff display than bite. Freeing the snake and the lizard from their sticky situation would take some careful and patient work, since both were so small and delicate. Two WIRES snake handlers worked together, one holding the snake’s head as they soaked the paper and freed the two reptiles.
This lizard and snake were fortunate that the tape they were stuck to was water soluble. WIRES also currently have a juvenile coastal carpet python in care who had been adhered to a very sticky ‘matting tape’ used to insulate a ceiling. This snake had to be transported to Currumbin Wildlife Hospital for treatment and is now in care until he sheds.
It is always important to consider the potential consequences of our disposal of rubbish, particularly things with adhesive surfaces, dispose of it responsibly and you might just save a small bird, mammal or reptile from a sticky fate.
Contact WIRES for rescues, advice or enquiries. The 24-hour hotline is for all calls to WIRES in the Northern Rivers - 6628 1898.
Image by Marion Nel
This Coastal Carpet Python was called into our rescue hotline on 21 January, it was found lying in front of a chicken coup at Mcleods Shoot not moving when approached.
The property owner suspected it may have ingested a placebo plastic egg placed in the chicken coop some time previously.
The unfortunate snake was rescued by a WIRES volunteer snake handler and after examination was driven to Currumbin Wildlife Hospital where x-ray confirmed the plastic egg was indeed lodged in the snake’s stomach.
A delicate operation to remove the egg was performed and the snake was brought back into WIRES care for recovery.
After 44 days in care the python finally shed it's skin and three days later it was released back in its home territory at Mcleods Shoot where it was welcomed back by the property owner.
Thank you to Currumbin Wildlife Hospital for operating and saving the life of this beautiful animal.
Images by Currumbin Wildlife Hospital & WIRES volunteer Martin Fitzgerald
Have you seen a “mouse”? Disturbed a “rat”? Don’t assume that the animal is a feral pest. There are numerous small Australian mammals which can be easily mistaken for rats and mice, and they often are friends rather than foes.
Over the past two weeks WIRES has taken into care quite a number of baby rodents, including this melomys which has only just opened its eyes.
Melomys, sometimes known as mosaic-tailed rats, are Australian native rodents. There are a number of species in the Northern Rivers, including the Grasslands and the Fawn-footed melomys.
The native Bush rat lives in eucalypt and rain forests and eats insects, fungi, seeds roots and plant stems. In the Northern Rivers we also have the Swamp rat and the Water rat. These shy creatures rarely move in to human houses, but are sometimes found around sheds and rural properties. The New Holland mouse (listed as vulnerable) is similar to the introduced House mouse but does not have a pungent odour.
We also have a number of species of Antechinus in Northern NSW; the Brown, Dusky and Yellow-footed as well as the Black-tailed antechinus that was first discovered in the Border Ranges in 2014. Together with Planigales (which are listed as vulnerable to extinction), these small marsupials are often mistaken for mice. Being carnivores, they eat insects such as cockroaches, so are great inhabitants around your house.
It can be difficult to identify these species of small mammals, particularly when they are young. Please be careful when dealing with mice and rats around your home as you could be accidentally killing protected native wildlife, who might be eating less desirable insect pests and who help maintain the fragile balance of biodiversity in our environment.
By Renata Phelps
In the past two weeks WIRES received a number of calls about swans, often a pair, with bands around their legs. Banding of these graceful birds is done as part of the Australian Bird & Bat Banding Scheme (ABBBS).
WIRES sent one of our volunteer rescuers to check on the welfare of these two beautiful black swans sighted at Lennox Head beach. It was determined that both were in good health. A photo was taken and the tag numbers reported to the ABBBS.
The swans had been observed previously at that location, and the following day they were sighted 40km south at Evans Head. Both had originally been banded at Pacific Pines in Queensland on 3rd December 2017 and 7th January 2018.
Black Swans are found in wetlands and river estuaries, bays and lakes across much of Australia. They feed on algae and weeds and only occasionally graze on land, since they are clumsy walkers. Swans pair for life and raise one batch of chicks a year. Hopefully this happy pair will go on to raise many more of these spectacular birds.
By Renata Phelps
A reminder to use Wildlife Friendly netting only.
This beautiful male Flying Fox was caught some time last night. A member of the public called WIRES as soon as the animal was discovered and it looks at this stage as only minimal damage was caused.
The Flying Fox is expected to make a full recovery. He will be kept in care for observation for a minimum of 3 weeks as it sometimes takes a few weeks for constriction injuries to show.
Many are not as lucky, some sustain severe injuries and others are not found in time suffering a slow painful death. Many different species of wildlife fall victim of unsuitable netting.
Please ensure your netting is wildlife friendly and check daily for any victims.
Image by Wendy Leighton
Ringy the Water Dragon survives strangulation
In mid January this year residents at the village at Southern Cross Drive in Ballina noticed one of the many water dragons seemed to be wearing a less than glamorous adornment. On closer inspection it became clear that the poor guy had managed to somehow get his head stuck through the safety seal ring of a discarded bottle.
Judging by the size of the ring and the dragon it appears that he may have been wearing his necklace for quite some time, however it was now clearly approaching restriction and needed to be removed.
WIRES were called to assist, however catching an agile water dragon is no easy task when he has many nooks and crannies to his advantage.
WIRES maintained regular contact with resident Jan, but “Mr Ringy” proved elusive.
Trapping was the only way to contain the lizard.
Resident Jan was provided with a cage trap and string and, thanks to her endless effort and patience, she finally managed to secure the patient almost 5 weeks after reporting the concern.
After a visit from a volunteer reptile handler from WIRES the ring was carefully cut and removed and the Water dragon was assessed and released.
Ringy’s story is a good reminder that a careless approach to our litter can cause great distress to the local wildlife. Please remember to cut all safety seal rings before discarding.
We are all feeling the heat at the moment and so is our wildlife.
You can help by putting out fresh water daily. If you have a bird bath please fill it with fresh water daily. Ice cream containers, placed on the ground around boundaries of the property and filled with water will also help, but be sure to put in a stick or large rock to allow small creatures an avenue of escape should they fall in.
Snakes may venture closer to our homes in search of water. If a water source is available away from your house they are less likely to venture closer seeking a dripping tap.
Images by Sharon McGrigor and Niall Stanton
Ethan from Alstonville had quite a surprise when he found a Python neatly curled up in his wardrobe on 19th January. On closer inspection he noticed a clutch of eggs under the snake.
WIRES was contacted and volunteer snake handler Josef arrived wondering why a python would have chosen such an usual nesting place, not the most hospitable being very hot and dry.
Josef knew straight away that there was something wrong with mother python. Being in an unsuitable environment for some time on her eggs she had failed to shed her already damaged skin, causing bad scarring, and deforming many of her scales.
A road trip to Currumbin Wildlife Hospital was in order. Once up there the vet advised that she must remain in care for treatment and close observation to ensure her skin condition improves and that she can eventually successfully shed her skin.
Josef drove back home where mum python was reunited with her eggs now located in more suitable nesting material.
On Wednesday 7 February the eggs started to hatch.
By 9th February 15 baby pythons had successfully hatched. All were released a few days later in a location close to where mum python had been found.
Mum python will stay in care till she has shed her damaged skin and is back in good health.
Thank you to Currumbin Wildlife Hospital for treating this Python. Thank you Ethan for calling WIRES and ensuring the python and her eggs were attended to.
By Josef Kohlmetz
Help our Wildlife - Join WIRES Now
Wildlife volunteers are needed in all parts of the Northern Rivers.
WIRES Northern Rivers are hosting a Rescue and Immediate care workshop in Lismore on 25 February.
The first part of our training can be completed online. Give us a call on our 24 hour hotline 66281898
Members can be actively involved in WIRES regardless of the type of dwelling in which they live. For example, the very intensive care of young birds requires no aviaries or expensive equipment, merely training & dedication.
Fundraising is a necessary part of our operation as we rely completely on public donation. Fundraising is time-consuming and can be organised by someone who is not actively involved with caring for animals.
Having pets or having young children does not exclude members from caring for wildlife. Common sense is the main ingredient.
Our Rescue Hotline is operational on a 24 hour basis; this means that someone has to answer the phone no matter what time it is, day or night. How we manage this is by breaking the 24 hours up into shifts, each manned by a volunteer. As you can imagine this requires quite a lot of volunteers, maybe you could help?
You can choose your level of involvement. Anyone 18+ can sign up to become a qualified wildlife rescuer, and can opt for additional areas of wildlife care & involvement:
•Caring for orphaned & injured wildlife
•Building enclosures & equipment
•Phone roster- operating a shift on our 24 hr hotline
Swimming pools and water troughs can be a death trap for wildlife; if they fall in they can’t get out. They will swim trying to find a way out or something to hang onto.
30 January was a hot day and this Echidna would have been looking for a drink of water when it came across a swimming pool, sadly it fell in and unable to get out it swam till it found the pool skimmer box. Was that the way out? Sadly it was not and once in, the Echidna was stuck.
This Echidna was lucky, as soon as it was noticed by the property owner and he realised he would not be able to free the animal without help he contacted WIRES.
WIRES volunteer Merryn arrived on site and with the help of the property owner managed to free the Echidna, not an easy task considering the spines.
The unfortunate animal was brought into care as it had obviously been in the water for extended time, if you have been in water for a long time your skin goes white and wrinkly, and that is what this Echidnas skin looked like.
After two days of rest and recreation plus a good feed, the Echidna was feeling much better and released back on the property where it had come from. Echidnas have a very good memory; it is highly unlikely that it will make the same mistake of looking for a drink from the pool again.
Ready for release
Back in home territory
Ducklings are often found in pools, they fall in, or follow mum, she can fly, but they are yet too young and they are trapped.
Please remember that any container of water can be deadly for our wildlife, especially during the hot summer months. Sadly a huge amount of animals are found in swimming pools or water troughs unable to get out.
If you have a swimming pool or water trough on your property please check it regularly for any animals that may have fallen in, better still create an avenue of escape. A thick weighted rope attached securely so it is hanging into the pool or water trough can provide a lifesaving escape for drowning animals and birds.
Most Australian land animals can swim, but only for so long before exhaustion sets in and they silently drown.
Images by Merryn West-Bird
New Years eve was a sad day for Claire, a resident at Newrybar. A python was accidentally hit by a hedge trimmer, and a clump of 15 eggs were discovered under the snake.
Sadly the python died from its injuries, but the eggs were carefully collected and WIRES was called - could we possibly take the eggs into care and release the baby pythons back on the property if they were to hatch?
WIRES Volunteer snake handler Steve collected the eggs and they were taken into care, equipment and knowledge put into action for the eggs to incubate.
The waiting game began - would the eggs hatch?? It was hard to know how long ago they had been laid, but around 50 days would be the normal incubation period.
Finally, on the afternoon of 24 January it started to happen!
The first little noses started poking out through slits in the eggs.
By the next morning 13 healthy little baby pythons had turned their tub into a literal snake pit!
It was a sight to behold and only two eggs didn't make it - one had dried up early on and one baby python died inside the egg for an unknown reason. 13 out of 15 was a great result however, and that night all the baby pythons were released into a rock walk near where the eggs had been found back on the Newrybar property
Claire was delighted, as she had felt very close to the mama python that had been seen around the property for a long time before the accident.
Thank you for calling WIRES when the eggs were found, and thank you also for your generous donation Claire.
Images by Steve Berry and Claire
Thanks to the vigilant efforts of two Myocum members of the public, and Mullumbimby vet clinic, two young birds were successfully released yesterday.
A young crow was found at the base of a tree, covered in ants. Ronan took the little one into the Mullumbimby vet. Though unclear what had caused its condition, the young bird was checked out and given the all clear.
The young crow was collected by a WIRES volunteer and after a few days rest and recuperation; it was released back in its home territory.
In a second rescue, not too far away, a juvenile Sacred kingfisher was plucked wet and bedraggled from a swimming pool. It was also taken to Mullumbimby vet surgery and then collected by the same WIRES volunteer.
Only a few hours rest was needed for this bird, it quickly gather its strength and was returned to the swimming pool area where Michael, who had fished the bird out of the pool, was present to see it happily fly off into the trees.
Thanks to Ronan and Michael and the Mullumbimby vet clinic who all helped these young birds recover from their ordeals.
By Barbara Wilkins
The Australasian Grebe is a small waterbird. They are prolific divers, disappearing under water when approached or disturbed. They feed on small fish and aquatic insects. An interesting fact about these birds is they eat their own feathers to help prevent injury from any sharp fish bones swallowed.
This little chick was found on a bridge between Naughtons Gap and Casino. Rarely do these birds come into care as they are able to swim as soon as they hatch. Parent birds share the task of rearing the chicks.
The grebe's feet and legs are made for life in the water so to find one on a bridge was rather unusual. This little one was brought into care for observation to ensure there were no injuries and housed overnight in a tub set up with a makeshift pond and soft cloth to take the pressure off its legs and feet.
All seemed normal overnight.
Early the next morning the creek below the bridge was quietly checked out and it was not long before the sound of another little grebe could be heard in the dense foliage further along.
Our little chick was placed in the creek near the sound of the sibling and the little Australasian Grebe family was soon reunited.
If you find an injured native critter or one that seems to be misplaced phone the 24/7 WIRES Northern Rivers Hotline on 66281898.
By Julie Marsh
Joan a resident of Alstonville was out for an early morning walk when she came across a large and very young white bird at the base of a huge Norfolk Pine.
She gently gathered up the chick and quickly returned home to phone Wires Hotline on 66281898.
Wires volunteer Julie was quickly on the scene and identified the large chick as a Royal Spoonbill chick.
The bird had no injuries so the best option was to return it to the nest where the parent birds could continue to raise it.
The only problem was the nest was approximately 30-40 metres up in this enormous pine tree.
After a few phone calls the Wires hotliner spoke to the owner of Down To Earth Tree Services, John Holmes.
John was on the scene with his cherry picker in no time at all.
The Royal Spoonbill chick went for a ride in John’s cherry picker and was placed back in the nest where it made itself comfortable and waited to be fed by its parents.
Thanks to Joan for calling WIRES and thank you to Down To Earth Tree Services, John Holmes for taking time out of a busy schedule in order to help return this beautiful chick to its parents.
By Julie Marsh
Learning to fly can be hazardous.
Bimbi is an 8 week old black flying-fox; she was somehow separated from her mum whilst learning to fly. Found hanging alone in a tree far away from the colony she was rescued by a WIRES volunteer after a call to our emergency hotline.
She will stay in care with other juvenile flying foxes till all are ready to resume life in the wild.
Image by Lib Ruytenberg
Kookaburra chick reunited with its family, thanks to Essential Energy
Birds sometimes build nests where a fall by a chick is fraught with danger. One Kookaburra family regularly uses tall bangalow palms in the centre of Byron Bay, and almost every year, WIRES is called out to a chick found on the ground.
This little fellow was found under a tall Bangalow palm by holiday maker Ed , he called WIRES immediately and kept watch until WIRES volunteer Deb arrived.
After checking the young chick had not been injured by the fall, and ensuring the parents were about, Essential Energy were called to assist with putting the little one back in the nest.
The wonderful Essential Energy crew once again used their cherry picker to put the little one back in its nest, watched over by anxious kookaburra parents. It is now safe with its sibling, and hopefully will stay safe until it has grown its flight feathers and is ready to fly off with the family.
A huge thank you to Essential Energy for their prompt response and caring reunification of this little Aussie icon with its family.
Images by Deborah Pearce
A large Goanna was yesterday found sunning itself on a big pile of pallets at Beaumont Tiles in Ballina. Employees were concerned that it may get injured as the location is close to the highway and there is no source of food or water. It had appeared after flash flooding and a king tide had occurred.
WIRES volunteer Marion visited the location earlier today to check on the goanna which had now gone into the warehouse.
Goannas are not the easiest of native animal to handle, and this particular one was cornered with little chance of getting out by itself. It was fast becoming defensive so Marion called for backup.
When WIRES volunteer Steve arrived it had gone into the ladies toilet.
This area made the rescue a lot safer for Marion and Steve and the goanna was soon caught and placed into a suitable container for relocation back to a more suitable environment nearby.
Thank you Beaumont Tiles for calling WIRES and being concerned for the welfare of our native wildlife.
Images by Belinda & Marion Nel
HIGH ALERT: Flying-foxes are especially susceptible to a run of days with high temperatures. Flying-foxes suffering heat stress may come to the ground or move lower down roosts closer to the ground during daylight hours.
If you see this please call WIRES or another wildlife care group immediately 1300 094 737.
In Northern Rivers area please call 66281898
It is important NEVER TO TOUCH OR HANDLE a flying-fox under any circumstance as a very small number may present a risk of contracting Australian Bat Lyssavirus, a disease transmitted through bites and scratches.
If you are waiting for a WIRES rescuer to arrive and you are able to safely provide some form of shade over the flying-fox (without touching it) to keep it out of the direct sun, please do so.
If the flying-fox is on the ground and it’s a hot day, you can place a cool towel or umbrella above it until the rescuer arrives to protect it from the the worst of the heat.
Spraying the animal intermittently with a very light mist or setting up a sprinkler to gently wet the animal can also help.
Image by Nick Edards