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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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 email@example.com
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.