Carers stories 2020
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.
Monday morning WIRES received a call from Paige at Discovery Caravan Park in Casino about a plover chick that was trapped down a drain. Concerned residents heard the distress calls of the parent birds and were dismayed to realise one of the chicks had fallen into the drain and was cheeping desperately.
WIRES volunteers Hanna and Melanie were quickly on the scene, they could hear the chick but soon realised help was needed to remove the grate in order to reach the distressed bird. Richmond Valley Council was contacted and rangers came to the rescue in record time.
With knowhow and strength they were able to lift the heavy grate.
The little chick was quickly retrieved but it was cold and weak.
With immediate warmth, followed by fluids and overnight care in a bird intensive care unit, the little chick recovered and was reunited with its parents and three siblings early this morning. One sibling in particular was very excited to see it back; it rushed towards its lost sibling as the parent birds swooped Melanie making sure she retreated as soon as the chick was released.
Thank you to all involved, especially Richmond Valley Council rangers for taking time out to help this little chick!
Images by Melanie Barsony
This beautiful Eastern Rosella, came into care after being rescued from a bird attack. We can only guess why he had been vulnerable to attack on the ground; the most likely reason being a window strike and subsequent concussion may have made it impossible for him to fly away.
He was missing quite a few feathers from the head and neck, had some scratches and a bald patch on the top of his head.
He was a tough little bird and was self-feeding and flying in the aviary fairly quickly after he recovered from the shock of his ordeal.
Releasing him with wounds would have made him vulnerable to infection and possibly another bird attack so he was kept in WIRES care for two weeks in an outside aviary, specially designed to minimise the risk of feather damage.
He was released back where he was found after two weeks in care, he flew fast and high, calling as he went letting his family know he was home.
The Eastern Rosella mainly feeds on the ground, especially amongst grasses often found on the side of the road lawns, pastures and clearings amongst trees and bushes. They feed on seeds, fruits and flowers, nectar and insects.
Eastern Rosellas mate for life. They nest in the hollow of dead or living gum trees.
The loss of old trees is now creating a shortage of nesting sites and nests have been found in holes in rotting logs lying on the ground. You can help these birds by erecting nest boxes in and around your property or garden.
Images by Deborah Rearce
Chris was on his way to work on Tuesday when he hit a Laughing Kookaburra on the Pinchin Rd between The Channon and Goolmangar. He stopped to see if the kookaburra was okay but it couldn't be found. When Chris arrived at work in Goonellabah he noticed the bird was caught in the grille of his car. Chris called WIRES and WIRES volunteer Julie attended.
The unfortunate bird was caught by it's right wing at an odd angle. The only way to get the bird free of the grille was by opening the bonnet of the car. Julie was then able to gently push the wing down and the bird was free of the grille. It was no joy ride for this kookaburra.
Julie found the Kookaburra to be in surprisingly good condition. The bird was obviously in shock but there did not seem to be any broken bones or major feather damage. Julie brought the bird into care and allowed it to rest before a thorough check up.
No injuries were found, a flight test proved positive.
Chris was called later in the afternoon and he collected the Kookaburra on his way home from work and released it back to the spot where it had unfortunately crossed the road in the morning.
We hope next time it is in need to cross the road it will take a different and higher flight path.
Thank you Chris for saving this lovely bird, for calling WIRES and taking the time to release it back into it's home territory.
Images by Chris
& Julie Marsh
This fledgling White-headed Pigeon thought it could fly before it could perch, and promptly ended up on the ground.
Kerri-Anne saw it sitting on a rock which at night is certainly not a good spot for a little bird.
Kerri-Anne called WIRES and kept the little bird warm, dark and quiet overnight.
WIRES volunteer Julie arrived to check out the situation this morning. The little Pigeon was not injured, the best outcome would be to reunite it with its parents.
Julie could see the nest but it was much too high to reach. She noticed an old nest further down the tree, low enough to reach and was able to reinforce it with a cane basket. The fledgling was placed in the basket. The parent birds had been watching with anticipation and were soon attending to their mischievous offspring. The little family was back together.
Thank you Kerri-Anne for helping save the life of this little White-headed pigeon.
Image by Julie Marsh
Peter, Paul and Mary came into care after being orphaned when an old dead tree was felled. Old dead trees look deserted with no sign of life, no new growth, but they are vital for many species seeking hollows.
The three orphans are Feather-tailed gliders, we will not go into details as to how mum was killed, but can disclose that it was very upsetting for the person felling the tree.
The orphans were found after the tree came down; they were uninjured and taken into care by WIRES volunteer Jeanette.
Old dead trees may not look great, in some cases can pose a threat should they fall, little choice but cutting them down. BUT if you do have a choice, please let them be.
In Australia many native species need tree hollows, including 17 % of bird species, 42 % of mammals and 28 % of reptiles (Gibbons and Lindenmayer 1997). They include bats, possums, gliders, owls, parrots, antechinus, ducks, rosellas and kingfishers as well as numerous species of snakes, frogs and skinks.
Natural tree hollows are an increasingly scarce and valuable resource for many native species and for some they are absolutely essential. Hollows provide safe places to shelter and in many cases to breed. The destruction of dead and living hollow-bearing trees results in the displacement and decline of all wildlife who depend on them for their survival. Hollow trees located near watercourses are equally very important for wildlife. Leave native vegetation along rivers and creeks.
The types of hollows needed by our wildlife are generally found in mature and dead trees. For some animals small openings of only a few centimetres are needed but others need much larger entry points.
Animals and birds do not select tree hollows at random. Factors such as entrance size and shape, depth and degree of insulation generally dictate which species uses which hollows and their frequency of use during summer and winter.
Small hollows with narrow entrances suitable for small animals such as the Brush-tailed phascogale and the Eastern pygmy-possum take about 100 years to form. Hollows of a medium size and suitable for animals such as parrots will take around 200 years to form, and the larger and deeper hollows occupied by Glossy black cockatoos and other larger animals such as Masked owls can take even longer (Mackowski 1984; Menkorst 1984; and Scotts 1991)
What can you do to help wildlife in need of hollows?
Retain live and dead hollow bearing trees
Retain fallen trees on the ground, and in creeks
Protect vegetation which produce hollows
Build and install several different type nest boxes.
Download plans for building nest boxes for specific species in need and plans for nest boxes for a number of bird species.
It is important nest boxes are sited correctly to suit the species, according to winter and summer aspects. They must also be located at 3m or greater above the ground.
Plant local native species that produce hollows.
As long as everything goes well, these three orphans will be released back to the wild with a nest box when they are old enough to fend for themselves.
Images by Jeanette Dundas
Doing some fencing for your property or business? Make it wildlife friendly!
Each year thousands of animals face a cruel death entangled on barbed wire fences. Many nocturnal animals like bats, gliders and owls fail to see the fence or cannot clear the height in windy conditions. Many fences are near flowing bushes or trees, animal feeding in these trees can easily become entangled.
Do not approach a trapped animal as it is likely to struggle and do more damage. Where possible, leave the rescue to an experienced carer who will untangle the animal with minimal further injury.
Do not handle flying-foxes, call for help, 66281898 and a trained and vaccinated volunteer will attend.
You can also encourage wildlife-friendly fencing in your local area. Monitor fences in the area and report any entangled animals to WIRES by calling 66281898.
This Noisy Pitta was picked up by Scott after he noticed it sitting in the middle of the road at Bangalow. He turned his car around, stopped and picked it up. He placed the bird in a box with a soft cloth and called WIRES for assistance.
Once in WIRES care it was hydrated and placed in a hospital cage where it was kept dark and quiet overnight. Amazingly the bird was not injured, it was stunned and in shock, likely having been clipped by a car.
It recovered quickly and was soon perching. The following morning it was offered food which it readily accepted. It passed a flight test with ease; it was time to go home.
It was released well away from the road into nearby bush close to where it had been found.
Most of us have never seen a Noisy Pitta as the population of these birds have declined due to the clearing of forests where these beautiful birds live and breed. They are also easy prey for cats and other predators as they spend considerable time on the forest floor. Their nest is located on the ground in the rainforest, or forests with good ground cover, at the base of a tree or between buttress roots, logs or rocks. Built of sticks, bark, leaves and grass it is shaped like a dome with an entrance platform. Both parents build the nest and share the family duties, incubation of the eggs and feeding of the chicks.
Noisy Pittas eat insects, spiders and worms, occasionally they also eat fruit. But their favourite food is snails, consumed after they break the shell open on a favourite rock.
If you live in a rainforest area and come across a rock surrounded by broken snail shells, you may be very lucky, if you stay very still and quiet, to have the pleasure of observing the beautiful and unusual Noisy Pitta.
Thank you Scott for taking the time to rescue this little bird, calling WIRES and giving this little bird a second chance at life.
Images by Scott and Deborah Pearce
Checking the letterbox when you live in the country can be surprising at times.
Britt was not unduly surprised when she checked her mail on a Saturday late afternoon a few weeks ago, only to find a Feathertailed glider. What was surprising, it did not leap out as is usual, it was listless and non-responsive. Usually if there is a glider sheltering within one or more will leap out at incredible speed as soon as Britt opens the box to check her mail.
Britt called WIRES for help and the little glider was promptly collected by WIRES volunteer Laura.
No injuries were found, so why was the glider so listless, they are usually extremely fast and very hard to examine unless they are injured or in shock. The glider was given thermal support and transferred to WIRES volunteer Natalie.
This letter box is not your usual prefab type, it is a homemade slightly deeper variety positioned below a large gum tree. Feathertailed gliders are often found sheltering within this drum, most likely an alternative home when predators have been exploring their nest hollow which we assume is located above in the large tree.
The little glider would have entered the letterbox probably on Friday and would have expected to leave that night for its usual night of foraging for food and return to its nest hollow in the early morning.
Natalie and Laura worked out what had gone wrong. The drum was quite deep; the gliders must have been using the mail within to exit. No mail was delivered on the Friday and the glider was not able to exit using the mail as a ladder. Britt did not check her letterbox till Saturday late afternoon and by that stage the glider was dehydrated, hungry and cold not having had her family to snuggle with in the cold.
It did not take very long before the glider was feeling much better, the thermal support soon revived her from her torpor, a method used by the small gliders to save energy in cold weather or in times of food shortages. The glider slows its breathing and dramatically reduces its physical activity dropping its body temperature and oxygen consumption and wrapping its body into a ball. Torpor bouts can last between 2 and 23 hours thus saving vital energy.
She was hydrated and given food by Natalie and released back near Britt’s mailbox on the Monday night.
Natalie constructed a small ladder which is now positioned inside the deep letterbox. Britt has decided to leave the gliders preferred letterbox entirely to the gliders; her mail is now being delivered in a new less deep letterbox positioned nearby.
This is a good reminder to all owners of deep letterboxes to place something within, allowing small critters an avenue of escape should they be using your letterbox as shelter when in need.
Images by Laura Hill
A member of the public was surprised to find a small green bird sitting in a puddle in his backyard, when approached the bird did not fly away, something had to be wrong. He contained the bird and called WIRES for advice. The bird was checked by My vet Byron Bay and found to be a healthy juvenile.
WIRES volunteer Deborah collected the bird and was surprised to find a Rose-crowned Fruit-dove.
These birds are on the Threatened Species list, extremely shy and rarely seen. The juvenile was fairly recently fledged and likely ended up in the puddle due to an overnight storm.
Deborah hydrated the little fellow; it was fed and spent 24 hours recovering before it was returned back to where it had been found.
Using a reuniting pole Deborah was able to place the dove up high on a branch in the rainforest at the back of the house. The family agreed to watch out for it from a distance to ensure the parent birds attended to the juvenile, but far enough away as to not scare them away. Considering Rose-crowned Fruit-doves only lay one egg the parent birds would have been eager to find their “ lost” offspring.
Rose-crowned Fruit-doves can be found in sub-tropical and dry rainforest and occasionally in moist eucalypt forest where fruit is plentiful. They may congregate in large numbers in rainforest trees when fruit is abundant, at other times they are usually seen singly or in pairs foraging in the canopy of rainforest trees, clambering about among the leaves of the outer branches to eat the ripe fruit, sometimes hanging upside down to reach it. Despite their bright plumage they are not easy to spot, and are more often heard than seen. They swallow fruit whole and particularly like figs and the fruit of other species of rainforest trees, palms and vines.
The Rose-crowned Fruit Dove is listed as vulnerable in New South Wales due to rainforest clearing and fragmentation, logging, weeds and increased fire regimes altering habitat.
Images by Deborah Pearce
Last Friday a Whistling Kite somehow became entangled in vines that were growing up a tall tree, perhaps while chasing a bird. She was lucky to be spotted by a passer-by who managed to untangle her and drove to a local vet at Kyogle. She was examined and found to be exhausted and sore, no broken bones or severe injury.
WIRES volunteer Fred picked her up from the vet and she was transferred to WIRES raptor carer Melanie.
Melanie administered first aid and the unfortunate kite spent the following days recovering in a warm enclosure. By Monday she had stabilised and was taken to Casino Vet Clinic for x-rays and a full check-up. Fortunately all was well and after a few more days she was released near where found.
Whistling Kites are a medium sized raptor, sandy brown in colour with a long tail. Their diets are varied and consist of mammals, birds, fish, lizards and insects. They will also feed on roadkill.
You may be lucky enough to see one soaring slowly and calling out with a distinctive whistling call.
Thank you to the caring passer-by for acting and helping this beautiful bird.
John was out in the field replacing an old fence post earlier this week. He kept hearing a noise that seemed to be coming from inside the rotting post. John investigated and found two very young Eastern Rosella chicks inside.
John carefully removed the chicks and placed them in a small box with a soft flannel cloth and kept them in a warm location while he phoned WIRES for assistance.
Michelle an Avian trained WIRES volunteer quickly responded to the call. The chicks were less than a week old; the best outcome would be to somehow reunite them with the parent birds. It was late in the day, the chicks needed to be taken into care whilst a Rosella nesting box was organised overnight.
The following morning the nest box was put in a tree close to where the post had been removed, the chicks had been fed whilst in care and were now placed within the box. Adult Eastern Rosella's could be heard nearby.
John monitored the birds for the day and saw a Rosella coming out of the tree where the nesting box had been placed. At the end of the day he checked the chick’s crops to make sure they had been fed. Their crops were empty; WIRES volunteer Michelle collected the chicks, they were fed and spent another night in care, a second attempt to reunite would be attempted the following morning.
Being just a day older, the chicks were a little noisier calling for the parent birds. John kept monitoring the nest box and finally a bit later in the day the parent birds were seen flying in and out of the box attending to their chicks. The little family were back together.
Eastern Rosella's are hollow nesting birds and with the loss of old trees in our forests there are limited hollows for nesting. They choose other locations to nest such as old fence posts, rotting logs on the forest floor and in suburbia they often choose chimney flutes and roof cavities. If you are aware of Eastern Rosella's in your location you can help by putting a nesting box up in a suitable location.
Thank you to John for rescuing the little chicks, and for spending so much time monitoring the attempts to reunite, ensuring the outcome would be positive for this little family of Eastern Rosella's.
Every critter we save makes a difference to preserving and protecting our fauna. You can make a difference by calling WIRES on 66281898 if you find an injured, orphaned or native animal in trouble.
Rescued from Ocean Shores this young female Long-nosed bandicoot was most likely out exploring possibly for the first time by herself when she was attacked by a dog on 10 May. WIRES was promptly contacted and she was picked up by WIRES volunteer Catherine.
There were no deep wounds but multiple skin tears and bruising. Catherine treated her wounds, gave her hydration fluid and she was placed in intensive care, warm-dark-quiet. Her biggest threat at that stage was shock; Bandicoots do not handle stress well and can in fact die quickly from stress related issues.
The little lady fared well overnight, and the flowing day was brought to Alstonville vet where she was checked over by Dr. Mike, a course of antibiotics were prescribed.
WIRES volunteer Josef took over the care of the little lady, she was placed in an intensive care facility whilst her wounds healed and finished her course of antibiotics.
Although she has now finished her antibiotics, she remains in care a while longer allowing for her wounds heal. She will be released back to the wild next week.
The Long- nosed is smaller than the Northern brown, and like its name suggests it has a very long nose. The hind limbs of both species resemble that of macropod's, the thigh is powerful, foot elongate and the second and third toe is joined. The hind limbs can be used for leaping, but the usual fast movement is like a gallop.
Bandicoots dig cone shaped holes in the ground looking for worms, lawn grubs, insects and roots. Complaints are often heard about the holes dug in the garden by these interesting creatures, but if you consider that they are at the same time getting rid of many pests, maybe we should be thankful for their assistance.
They have a home range of 1-6 hectares, however, they tend to roam over a comparatively small range, often staying within half a hectare of their nests and can live for up to 3 years. Although some people associate bandicoots with ticks, this may be because humans tend to pick up ticks most easily in long grass or thick scrub- which also happens to be the type of habitat favoured by bandicoots.
Images by Josef Kohlmetz
Yesterday WIRES received a call that a Magpie Lark had been found with a sticky substance through its wing, the wing was actually attached to its tail, it couldn't fly.
Sophie had already contained the helpless bird, put it in a box with a soft cloth at the bottom and was keeping it warm, dark and quiet to reduce its stress before she called WIRES for assistance.
WIRES volunteer Julie was soon on the scene and discovered that the sticky substance was bubble gum.
This was one lucky Magpie Lark, firstly because Sophie discovered the bird was in trouble before any major injuries occurred and secondly because WIRES volunteer Julie is trained in how to remove sticky substances such as chewing gum from our feathered friends.
There was minimal feather damage after the gum was removed, the Magpie Lark was given hydration and seemed quite feisty. It was given a flight test and passed with flying colours. This male Magpie Lark was ready to resume life in the wild and was promptly released back home.
Chewing gum can be lethal if thoughtlessly disposed of, it may not kill the bird if it is ingested, but it can certainly cause issues, and as in this case would have eventually killed the bird as it was unable to fly leaving it helpless and easy prey. Please dispose all ALL rubbish including chewing gum responsibly, in a bin with a closed lid.
Thank you to Sophie for calling the WIRES 66281898.
By Julie Marsh
It's National Volunteer Week and we want to take time to celebrate our simply amazing volunteers who spend their time helping native animals in distress.
First the bushfires followed by COVID have made this year especially challenging for many and through it all, every single day and night, our tireless volunteers continue with the rescue and care of our precious wildlife.
THANK YOU to each and every one of you .
Paul was walking his dog in Casino this morning when he heard a bird calling in distress, he followed the sound and found a Blue-faced Honeyeater trapped in a cage that was protecting the loud speaker at a primary school.
||What looked to be a very tricky rescue was made easy by the idea of covering the cage. A stick was entered through the small gap where it had entered the cage and a tasty Bottle-brush flower placed outside the cage but visible to the bird trapped within.
The combination of covering the cage allowing light only from the escape route with the stick worked, the bird was out and free in less than a minute and flew away as fast as a rocket.
Thank you Paul for calling WIRES straight away and allowing us to free this beautiful bird.
By Melanie Barsony
Australian wildlife has so many faces
We want to help you get to know them while everyone is staying inside.
WIRES offers a free online community course 'An Introduction to Australian Wildlife' which is a perfect way to begin understanding our unique biodiversity. This course is free, completely online and available in English, Arabic or Chinese (simplified). Let's keep busy by learning, sign up today!
This juvenile White-faced Heron was brought into My Vet at Byron Bay after she kept wandering into a mechanics shop. Being a bird lover the mechanic met WIRES volunteer Deborah at the vet surgery.
||An assessment at the vets revealed that the young bird was ok but very underweight. It had been separated from the parent birds. Not yet old enough to source her own food she was starving.
||She was taken into care by Deborah and named Miss Lucille. At first she was very snappy and resisted all food offered. Deborah soon worked out that she needed the larger space of an aviary and to feed herself. With that arrangement she progressed in leaps and bounds. She loved her food and would show her gratitude by hissing at Deborah whenever she was near.
After just over two weeks in care Miss Lucille was returned to the wetlands near where she was found.
Deborah watched from a distance to make sure she was able to find food. Miss Lucille was very sensible and found a little protected lagoon on the edge of a large pond.
||She stayed there all day fishing and adjusting to her new surroundings. By the evening she was checking out an adult Heron from a tree.
||The following morning Deborah went back again. She found Miss Lucille happily foraging with the resident flock on herons on the big pond. Miss Lucille was home, wild and with her own kind.
Images by Deborah Pearce
New life and a Second Chance.
This Purple Swamp Hen chick was found by Kylie and her family on the side of a busy road in Ballina.
There were no adult birds in sight to protect and keep it warm.
The little chick was cold. Kylie's partner held it in the palm of his hands to keep it warm while Kylie contacted WIRES, shortly after the family drove it to a WIRES avian carer.
The little chick was placed in intensive care and given much needed fluid. It did not take long before the little one was looking much brighter.
The best outcome for the little bird is for its parents to be located, but if it that is not possible it will be raised and released once it is old enough to fend for itself.
A new life hatched very much out of season, even so this Purple Swamp Hen now has a second chance. Thank you to Kylie and her family.
If you come across an injured or orphaned critter please phone WIRES on 66281898
We are still operating during this Coronavirus pandemic and will discuss with you how best to comply with social distancing when arranging to rescue or collect a critter.
By Julie Marsh
During these times of social distancing and home isolation, wildlife is still in need of help and WIRES volunteers are still going out to rescue injured or orphaned wildlife.
On Thursday, WIRES was alerted to an eagle that was caught in a barbed wire fence.
WIRES volunteer Raptor carer Melanie had the difficult task of carefully untangling the beautiful juvenile Wedge-tailed eagle, severely injured in the struggle to free itself from the barbs that held it captive.
It was examined at Casino vet clinic, every effort made to find a way to save it, but the injuries caused by the barbs were extensive and un-treatable, it had to be euthanased.
Such a sad ending for such a magnificent bird, please consider other options if you have barbed wire on your property.
Barbed wire fences cause untold suffering for many of our native wildlife species. If you have barbed wire fences on your property, please consider whether the barbed wire is really necessary and whether it can be replaced with plain wire. Or perhaps just the top wire can be replaced or covered with split poly pipe, as this this is where most wildlife are caught. If you absolutely must have barbed wire and you are not able to cover the top strand, you can help wildlife by ensuring it can easily see the wire. Wrap something shiny, like electric fence tape, around the top strand so animals are alerted to it, including at night when gliders and other nocturnal animals are active.
By Melanie Barsony
Tuesday 10 March turned out to be a distressing day for this Cattle Egret. Amanda came across the distressed bird stumbling out of some bushes, it seemed like both legs might be broken. Amanda promptly contained the bird and took it to My Vet at Byron Bay where it was examined. Both legs were intact, no broken bones, but it was unable to stand, and was in obvious pain.
Vet Suzie assessed him has having quite serious soft tissue damage and thought he’d probably been hit and rolled by a car.
He was prescribed pain relief and anti-inflammatory medication, and taken into care by WIRES volunteer Deborah.
Cattle Egrets are highly sociable birds and gather in small groups or large flocks. They are frequently found in the company of cattle and other grazing stock sitting on the back of the beast looking out for insects. They roost communally in trees and on the ground near the shallows of fresh-water wetlands.
|Oscar as he was named due to being a bit grouchy wasn’t keen on being in the hospital cage and definitely didn’t like any of the delicacies being fed to him.
||Deborah had to make sure she had glasses on when feeding him, as sudden lunges for her eyes and any other parts of the anatomy that he could reach was his way of letting her know he was not impressed by being in care.
As soon as he was able to stand properly he was moved into an outside aviary however his displeasure of being in care was still very much evident by his grumpy behaviour, clearly indicating that he wanted to go home.
After nearly two weeks in care Oscar finally started to behave normally, becoming active especially around sunset when Cattle Egrets are on the move to their roosting spots for the night. It was time for release.
Deborah returned Oscar to the wetland pond found nearby to where he had been found by Amanda.
She waited patiently nearby and was rewarded straight away; Oscar was having no trouble wading around in the mud looking for prey.
She waited some more and watched him fly. His flight was perfect, it was time for Deborah to go home, Oscar had made a full recovery.
Thank you Amanda for rescuing this magnificent bird.
Images by Deborah Pearce
What a difference a few days can make.
This adult Red-neck wallaby was pulled out of a 1 meter deep hole by Andrew at Nimbin. Andrew was lucky to see movement in the hole as the wallaby was completely covered by mud. After much effort to free her from the hole Andrew called WIRES as, apart from being completely covered in mud, she was unable to stand.
She was transported by WIRES volunteer Kayla to macropod carers Renata and Don. Initially it was impossible to assess the extent of her injuries due to the mud, which was caked thickly all over her - even in her ears, nose and eyes.
It took some time to wash the exhausted animal, but after a concerted effort she was finally clean and able to be assessed for injuries. Lotus, as she has since been named, was dehydrated and exhausted, but there did not seem to be any significant injuries or breaks, she was definitely sore and possibly had some degree of soft tissue damage.
After being rehydrated, and two days of rest, she is feeling much better.
Today she was taken outside to a large enclosure. Feeling the grass under her feet and the sun on her body she is moving well. Although slightly limping her recovery is well under way.
Thank you Andrew for saving the life of this beautiful animal.
Images by Renata Phelps
Matt was driving between Casino and Kyogle when he saw a bird of prey sitting in the middle of the road. When it didn't fly off, he knew there was something wrong. He stopped and whilst making sure cars slowed down he was able to safely contain the bird with a blanket and promptly called WIRES.
Matt met up with WIRES volunteer Melanie and the bird was taken in to care.
Melanie identified the bird of prey as a Black Kite. The likely cause of the birds predicament was most likely being clipped by a car and sustaining a concussion. A vet check at Casino Vet Clinic confirmed the concussion; luckily there were no other injuries.
After a few days in intensive care with Melanie the Black Kite was transferred to a flight aviary.
A week later he had fully recovered and was returned to where Matt had found him. He never looked back as he flew away; once again free to roam the skies.
Black Kites are not actually black as they appear from a distance. Their common name of Fork-tailed Kite seems more fitting. They can sometimes be seen hunting in groups as they skilfully scavenge for small mammals and large insects. Opportunistic feeders, they will look for food around rubbish tips, cultivations and fire fronts. They are agile flyers and can catch insects on the wing.
Thank you Matt for stopping for this beautiful kite, he would not have survived otherwise.
By Melanie Barsony
Back in early February Claudia was driving along Dingo Lane near Byron Bay when she noticed a small birds nest on the road. A storm was raging but that did not stop Claudia from stopping to check if there may be chicks in the nest.
Sure enough, there were 3 barely feathered chicks in the nest. Claudia went straight to Byron Vet clinic where the tiny creatures were given much needed nourishment and WIRES was promptly contacted.
They were identified as being Red-Browed Finch chicks. Once in WIRES care they were placed in intensive care and fed every two hours during daylight hours.
Over the next few days the area was checked by WIRES volunteers in search of the parent birds, sadly they were never located.
The chicks thrived in care with WIRES volunteer Deborah at Byron Bay and they were named Dot, Dash and Dilly.
They developed at an amazing speed and once fully feathered they moved from their substitute nest to what is called a hospital cage, which is a small but fully lined cage ( ensuring no feather damage is done) . They still have their nest within but can now move about building some muscle.
They were joined by Dainty, another young orphaned Finch in WIRES care. Dainty was immediately accepted by the trio.
Soon they were testing their flight skills and were moved into a small lined aviary in the garden where they were soon flying.
Within days they were self-feeding and after a total on 28 days in care they were released back to the wild.
Images by Deborah Pearce
Newborn in safe hands
An early morning call to WIRES emergency hotline on 21 February was from Lisa in Mullumbimby. Lisa had found a small flying-fox on the ground. WIRES volunteer rescuer Jodie responded to the call and was surprised to see that it was a tiny newborn pup, estimated to have been born the previous night or early that morning.
Normal birthing time for flying-foxes is October-November, so this one is quite out of season.
Normal birth weight for a black flying-fox is 70 gr, they are born with fur and their eyes are open. This tiny flying-fox was only 51 gr and had been born prematurely. She had no fur and her eyes had not yet opened.
Dream, as the little one was named, is still doing OK after 11 days in care, her eyes are now open, her fur is emerging and she even flaps her little wings. We wish her all the best and keep our fingers are crossed for her.
Images by Merryn West-Bird
This Lace monitor thought it had come across the ideal place for an easy meal when it somehow managed to gain access to a local Poultry farm.
The owner of the farm was however not very happy about its presence and neither were the chickens. The farm owner tried in vain to get the Goanna to move on, however the Goanna was not in agreement. Sharp claws and teeth would certainly be a deterrent for most of us when confronted with a Goanna of this size and intent on staying put.
WIRES was called and two experienced reptile handlers managed to catch the Goanna and release it safely outside.
Images by Brett Anderson
Thank you so much for all the wonderful donations of handmade items we receive on a regular basis, most are from Australia but some have come from afar. We thought we would share the love.
This week’s mailbox has been full of wonderful surprises; it has included handmade items from New York, beautiful handmade pouches from some lovely ladies in the Netherlands. Handwritten messages of support from a kindy class in Phoenix Arizona, and a beautiful delivery of handmade blankets, pouches and birds nest from Animal Rescue Collective Craft Guild.
Strong winds and heavy rain in regions recently impacted by bushfires and drought may cause additional issues for the surviving wildlife.
With so little foliage remaining in some areas there will be limited shelter. Birds may become waterlogged and unable to fly.
How you can help:
After the storm has passed and only if it is safe to do so please check for fallen chicks, nests or injured birds. Please check any fallen trees especially older trees with hollows as almost certainly someone would have called that hollow home.
If you find a fully feathered bird on the ground please pick them up by gently wrapping them in a small towel or soft cloth with no loose threads (they can easily become entangled).
Take them inside and place in a ventilated box large enough for the bird to stand, place a soft cloth on the bottom of the box. If there are signs of injury please call WIRES 66281898. If there are no signs of injury you can let the bird warm up and dry out in peace and quiet. Once the weather has settled the bird can be taken back outside, open the box to allow light in slowly and if the bird is OK it should fly away. If this does not happen please call for advice straight away.
We are seeing an increase in young Figbirds coming to the ground, they are cold and wet.
Contain the bird in a box with a soft cloth, place holes in the box for ventilation and place in a warm location. Do not give food or water to the bird, please call WIRES straight away for advice.
Small possums and gliders could also be found under trees after heavy rain and storms. Please contain the animal in a suitable size box with a soft cloth, place holes in the box for ventilation and place in a warm location. Call WIRES on 66281898 for advice and please do not handle and do not feed the animal.
||This little Mountain Brushtail possum joey was found alone,wet and cold yesterday in Nimbin. She is now in WIRES care and doing well.
||Pythons are slowing down in the wet and cooler weather and turning up in gardens / sheds. If the python is not trapped or injured, please give it time to move on when the sun comes out again.
Please be vigilant on our roads looking out for wildlife. Take care and stay safe.
Interested in joining WIRES? Now is the time to act, call us on 66281898 or send us an email email@example.com
Images by Jeanette Dundas & Michael McGrath
Sadly WIRES in the Northern Rivers area has recently been called to three cases where wild wallabies have been observed with a swollen jaw or swollen face and eye. The animal were under weight and fairly easy to approach.
These animals have been suffering from what is called Lumpy Jaw a disease rarely seen in wild macropods.
Lumpy Jaw is a serious bacterial infection of the jaw. Although it is treatable in the very early stages, by the time it is obvious in wild animals, it is too late to treat as the infection is well advanced.
It is caused by an inappropriate diet of soft feeds which can cause tooth decay, can also be caused by hay with hard stalks that may pierce the gums and allow the bacteria to invade.
With recent drought and bushfires, native animals have been and are still in some areas having a hard time finding their natural food. Kangaroos and wallabies are herbivores and will graze on grassland or browse on native shrubs.
Human food is not natural for kangaroos and wallabies and can make them very sick. The lack of nutrition in human food, can cause nutritional imbalances in kangaroos and wallabies plus lead to other life threatening complications such as Lumpy Jaw.
If conditions are still such that you feel the kangaroos or wallabies are having a hard time finding food you should aim to minimise the risk of harm:
Totally avoid unhealthy and potentially life-threatening food such as bread and other soft foods.
Offer long dry grass and hay (not stalky) or best of all specific Macropod pellets available from most produce stores.
Consider that providing a regular supply of artificial food may draw many animals into a single area which can easily become a killing field for predator species such as wild dogs and foxes.
As conditions improve there will be less need to feed wildlife as their natural food is once again in good supply. In many cases feeding native wildlife may sadly be doing more harm than good.
In Dec 2019 thousands of hectares were burnt in the upper Clarence region of NSW.
This included Paddys Flat a location popular with campers.
On the Australia Day long weekend a baby Sacred Kingfisher was found on the ground, alone and hungry in the fire grounds at Paddys Flat. Not yet old enough to fly it is still dependent on the parent birds for food and protection.
The Sacred Kingfisher builds a nesting burrow in a termites mound, a riverbank or a tree hollow. Male and female share the work in constructing the nest and both defend it with tenacity. For this young kingfisher to be found alone and hungry something had obviously happened to the parent birds or this little one had somehow become displaced.
The person who found this exquisite little bird took it home and kept it warm, dark and quiet overnight and phoned the WIRES hotline 66281898 the next morning.
It is now in care with one of our specially trained avian carers.
When it is independent and has gained flight strength it will be released back to the wild.
The Sacred Kingfisher is a migratory bird. They spend the winter in the north of their range and return to the south to breed. They are found in Indonesia, Australasia, New Zealand and mainland Australia. The Sacred Kingfisher is a solitary bird pairing only for breeding.
If you find an injured or orphaned critter remember that they all need specialised care so make sure you have the local WIRES hotline number stored in your phone, 66281898.
By Julie Marsh
AUSTRALIAN DAY STORY.
Today an English man called the hotline regarding a native Australian Coastal Carpet Python snake in trouble due to ticks......
The call was answered by a South African ( Marion) , and then relayed to an English lass (Jodie)whom sought advice from a Canadian ( Steve) . An Irishman ( Martin) became involved and coordinated the rescue by an Argentinian (Gus), all WIRES volunteers….
It will be taken to Lewis, a Scotsman at Currumbin Wildlife Hospital.
And all going well will be cared for by “Aussie Shiela” Artemis.
A true blue international rescue for Australia Day.
HAPPY AUSTRALIA DAY TO ALL
Image by Gus
Casino Little Reds
You have probably noticed increased numbers of bats (flying-foxes) in Casino recently. This is because the Little Reds are back in town! They have joined our small local colony of Grey Headed and Black flying foxes for a short stay. Their fly out around 8pm is a spectacular sight to witness.
The Little Reds are nomadic and make their way each year from south and west of NSW all the way to Central Queensland and back again. They usually stay in Casino for a number of weeks before heading off again to follow their favourite food, the flowering eucalypts. They are important pollinators of hardwood timber, especially as many trees release their pollen at night. They are like nocturnal bees. Flying-foxes are considered a keystone species due to their feeding habits which pollinate and distribute native tree species. This is even more vital now as wildfires destroy so much bushland and forests. The flying-foxes will help rehabilitate habitat for koalas and other wildlife.
While the Little Reds appear to be in abundant numbers, like all the flying fox species in Australia, their numbers have plummeted. Recent climate events and habitat loss have heavily impacted flying-fox numbers, with heat stress deaths wiping out tens of thousands. When the temperatures reach 42°, the bats start to suffer and die. Lack of food has also caused ongoing problems. This year, many bats miscarried their pups due to starvation. The Grey-headed flying fox is now listed as vulnerable to extinction.
Remember the flying fox motto “No me, no tree!”
If you find a bat in trouble, please don't touch; call WIRES hotline on 66281898 for help and advice.
Suffolk Park children Raine, Taj and Macy decided they wanted to make a difference; they took action and made it happen.
Over the last two weekends they sold cupcakes outside Suffolk Park Spar supermarket to raise funds for WIRES and RFS and this morning presented $ 505.00 to WIRES Northern Rivers Chairperson Annie Crowley. An equal amount was raised for RFS.
Thank you so much Raine, Taj and Macy, the money raised for WIRES will be spent on injured and orphaned wildlife. Thank you also to the Suffolk Park and surrounding community, some of which helped out by baking and even manning the stand at times.
Bushfires and Birds
Bushfires are devastating our wildlife and their habitats. Some birds manage to escape the heat and flames but will be displaced and starving. You may be seeing more birds in your gardens and local areas.
What can we do to help?
Keep dogs and cats locked up as birds will be weak and vulnerable.
Water is essential and life saving. Provide clean fresh drinking water in shallow containers. These can be on ground level and higher up next to tree cover in the shade. Place a rock or heavy stick to allow smaller birds, lizards and insects to easily access the water and not become trapped. Clean the containers and refill with fresh water every day or more frequently if needed.
Helping the habitat
All birds eat insects. Compost heaps and piles of damp leaf litter will encourage a variety of insects.
Keep a wild weedy area in your garden. For the time being, don’t mow seeding grass or dandelion flowers. Water certain corners of your garden to encourage plant growth and insects (use grey water if you are on water restrictions).
Propagate/buy native trees to plant! Some local Councils offer native trees and shrubs to residents for free, so check with them before you purchase anything.
Feeding the birds
Food can be provided for the short term during the most critical period until the natural environment begins to regenerate.
Incorrect diets can be harmful for our native bird species and can cause long term health problems and increase the spread of diseases. It will take some extra time and cost, but to really help the birds we must do what is best for them.
Unfortunately, there will be feral species also competing for food, such as rats. We don’t want a population explosion of feral species by leaving uneaten food about. It is also important the birds are not eating spoiled or rotten food. Therefore, please remove all uneaten food at the end of the day, and wash food containers thoroughly.
• Good quality mixed seed, both parrot and budgie mix
• Chopped fresh fruit – preferably berries/grapes. (Avoid sweet mushy fruit such as mango and melon)
• Defrosted peas and corn
• Small pieces of lean meat when carnivorous birds are about (NOT mince)
• Meal worms (available at pet shops)
• Commercial bird food products ie. Vetafarm Insecta Pro or Wombaroo Insectivore, prepared according to manufacturer’s instructions and replaced regularly
• Parrot pellets
• Dry honeyeater and lorikeet food
• Honeyeater and lorikeet wet mixes, prepared according to manufacturer’s instructions and replaced regularly. These must be replaced regularly as will sour and ferment.
Provide food in clean dishes that can be cleaned daily and removed in the evening.
Feed early in the morning before the weather gets too warm.
All uneaten food must be removed each evening, as:
• meat will rot and attract bacterial diseases
• uneaten seed will sprout after rain and introduce non-native weeds
• feral animals such as rats and mice will be attracted.
Other things you can do to help:
Countless large old trees have been destroyed, along with their natural nest hollows. Erect nest boxes for all types of birds!
Nest boxes are fairly easily constructed at home or bought at your local Men’s Shed or purchased online. Below are some helpful links:
Information supplied by WIRES Avian management team.
This story sadly does not have a happy ending; it is a reminder of how our discarded rubbish can and does impact our wildlife on a daily basis.
While Mark was camping at the caravan park by the Richmond River at Coraki yesterday he noticed a Little Corella hanging from a branch approx. 6 meters high in a tree. It had fishing line caught around one leg and was desperately trying to free itself.
With the entangled bird were other members of its flock, it was as though they wanted to help free the bird and comfort it.
Mark phoned WIRES to report the entangled Corella as it was much too high for him to reach.
A rescue was co-ordinated involving Steve Cubis Tree Services who frequently volunteer their time and equipment to help with rescues such as these. A WIRES volunteer also needed to be on the scene to assess the Corella once freed.
Jake from Steve Cubis Tree Sevices operated the cherry picker maneuvering it expertly to reach the Little Corella. Jake was able to remove the nylon line from its leg, and it was handed down to a waiting WIRES volunteer.
The bird was obviously exhausted and dehydrated; sadly one leg was severely injured caused by being continually twisted and bearing the weight of the bird at an unnatural angle as it had tried to free itself, whilst hanging upside down in the tree.
The Little Corella was gently wrapped and given a much needed drink, then taken to Vet Love Goonellabah where it was examined. The injured leg was completely shattered, the damage was irreparable.
We all have a responsibility to ensure we dispose of rubbish, including netting and fishing line, in bins provided or take our rubbish home with us.
Whilst we do everything possible to save injured animals, sadly there are times when this in not possible due to the severity of the injury. As you would appreciate, those times can be very hard for our volunteers.
If you do see a native animal in distress please call the WIRES hotline for assistance on 66281898.
If you would like to join us and be fully trained in wildlife rescue and care please email us on firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you Steve Cubis Tree Services for your time and effort, we value your help and support.
Wildlife need help now more than ever before.
Do you want to help wildlife but don’t know how? You want to make a difference but feel you may not be able due to a variety of reasons.
Some answers to questions you may have:
• I live in town – there wouldn’t be many wildlife rescues around my home-
Not so. Most of our rescues happen in suburban areas where wildlife has to coexist with cars, domestic pets and people. Lismore, Ballina, Byron Bay, Casino, Brunswick Heads, Mullumbimby are all super busy rescue areas and WIRES always needs more volunteers in those areas.
• I don’t have a back yard or much room to keep animals – Initially animals that are sick or injured just need a small rescue tub or basket for short term care.
• I live in a rental house and am not allowed to have animals here –
You can still be involved. When a call is received for an animal in trouble our first priority is to collect the animal. As a volunteer with WIRES you can provide valuable help by transporting it to a vet or to another carer.
• I work full time so I’m not available every day –
WIRES volunteers outline what days and times they are available and are only called for rescues at those times. Every contribution helps.
• I don’t have a car or transport –
WIRES often need locations for people to drop animals in to – particularly in our busy towns.
• I have dogs or cats at home –
It is important to keep pets and wildlife separate but many WIRES members have domestic pets. The important thing is to organise your home so wildlife are kept in a room or area where the pets aren’t allowed to go.
• I don’t think I want to handle animals, but I still would like to help -
There is a role in WIRES for everyone! You can contribute to WIRES by helping with our 24/7 Hotline (66281898), fundraising, public education, working bees, catering for workshops and so on.
Now is a great time to join WIRES since our next workshop will be held in Lismore on February 22nd. You do need to allow time beforehand to complete the online part of the course, if you do not have access to a computer a workbook can be sent to you. Act now!
For more information about how you can join and contribute call 66281898.
Or click on link below:
With fires, drought and high temperatures continuing here are some practical things you can do to help our precious wildlife:
Put water out for wildlife, shallow dishes in the shade with a rock within so a small animal can escape should it fall in.
In fire areas keep a box in your vehicle with a cotton pillowcase and a shallow dish and water bottle to offer water to animals who may have been impacted by or fled the fires.
Keep dogs and cats secure, displaced wildlife will be seeking water and shelter.
If you find an animal with burns or other injuries please call WIRES on 66281898 immediately. Wrap loosely in 100% cotton fabric, handle as little as possible.
Many flying-fox colonies over recent weeks are being severely impacted by a combination of starvation and heat. Please remember to NEVER touch a bat. If you see a bat or flying-fox on the ground please do not approach but provide shade ☂gently mist intermittently and call WIRES 66281898.
Consider joining WIRES, send us an email email@example.com for more information on how to join.
The Australian Brush-turkey is known to most of us, they are a common sight in our local area as they move about looking for food.
Did you know that Brush turkeys are the most ancient member of a family that dates back 30 million years and includes chickens, quails, peacocks and pheasants.
Right now you may be lucky enough to see a Brush-turkey chick. They look very different to the adult bird and WIRES is called frequently to pick up an orphaned chick, which turns out to be a little Brush-turkey.
Unless the chick is injured, our advice is to let it go as they are independent and quite able to fend for themselves right from when they hatch from the egg.
The Australian Brush-turkey is an interesting bird; the male is often seen in spring scratching leaf matter and soil together creating a huge mound, measuring up to 4 meters across and 1 meter high which can take up to a month to build. Once the nest is finished, several females will lay their eggs in tiers in a deep hole in the mound's top. The heat generated by the decomposing leaf matter, combined with the sun’s heat incubates the eggs, whilst the male maintains a constant temperature of 33 - 38°C. He tests the temperature by sticking his beak into the mound, and material is either added or removed to achieve the right temperature. Interesting to note the males do all the work, builds the nest and tends to the eggs, the female just lays the eggs and leave the rest to the male.
When the eggs hatch the fully feathered chicks dig their own way out, quite a rough start to life as they can spend considerable time scrambling vertically through a meter of dirt and compost to reach the surface. Once free of the nest life becomes even harder, no parents to protect them or teach them about dangers or how and where to find food, they have to use their instincts to learn how to forage for fruit, insects and seeds, plus stay safe from predators.
We can help these amazing birds by being tolerant when they build their nest, it may be an inconvenient spot he has chosen, but did he have a choice??? Competition for nesting sites is fierce these days as they compete with human kind. He will in turn help you, the leftover mound is a great source of compost to spread out over your garden when the chicks have left the nest , once you see seedlings growing on top you will know it’s empty.
A few quick tips on living with brush turkeys
To discourage brush turkeys in places you don't want them, dismantle any sign of a nest before it gets established. Clean up leaf litter regularly as these birds are encouraged to gardens with lots of leaf litter used for the building of their nest.
Don't feed the birds.
Build fences around your garden beds.
Enjoy watching them and be tolerant please.
Images by Nic Hine & Sharon McGrigor
Baby Blue-tongue lizards are on the move having to disperse at birth. The babies are born independent, and eat the placenta and membrane upon birth; this gives them their first nourishment. A few days later, they will shed for the first time. Babies are generally born 10 - 13cm in length, and there may be up to 19 young in a litter. Few will survive for long in our suburban environment as predators are many, such as cats, dogs, cars and lawn mowers. They do not run away when danger threatens, but puff up and stick out their tongues, not a good defence against a lawn mower.
To protect your lizards, keep your cats locked up; take great care when mowing long grass.
An opportunistic feeder, the blue tongue will eat anything slow enough for it to catch. They will eat a variety of plants, and a large range of insects. No Blue-tongue can go past a snail; these are like ice cream to them. Please don’t use chemicals such as snail bait, let the lizard do the job for you.
An adaptable lizard, all species of Blue-tongue are able to adapt to living in suburbia. They are common in the gardens of home owners, and are considered an asset as they keep the bug numbers down.
Providing somewhere to hide will help these little critters survive the perilous journey they face as they grow. You can create hiding tunnels in your garden by using small lengths of drain pipe hidden under leaf mulch. Also rocks and logs on the ground, piles of leaves and low shrubby bushes. Old ceramic and poly pipes around your yard will also provide good hiding places and escape routes for your lizards. Shallow water dishes placed on the ground under a bush will also assist, please change the water daily.
Blue-tongue lizards can live as long as 30 years, and will become quite used to you and your family. They are a wonderful native animal to share your garden.