Severe weather forecast playing havoc with our Wildlife

BOM has forecast  a severe weather outlook for the 2021-22 Summer season, and already severe storms and heavy rain is playing havoc with our wildlife, in particular our native birds.

Newly fledged birds are often found on the ground after torrential rain. They become wet and bedraggled and do not have the flight strength to gain lift off.

Fortunately they are often not  injured and can be reunited back with their families after a short time in WIRES care.

This newly fledged Kookaburra named ‘Rous’ was found on the ground after consecutive days of heavy rain. Rous was wet, dirty and hungry. After a bath, warmth and a feed Rous was returned home once the weather cleared.

Last Saturday night a severe storm passed through the Northern Rivers. After the storm Diane inspected her property and could hear what sounded like a baby bird inside a large branch that had fallen. A chainsaw was needed to cut through the limb, and  a very stressed and dirty baby Rainbow Lorikeet was saved after being trapped inside. Diane called WIRES and kept the little bird warm until a WIRES volunteer arrived.

The Rainbow Lorikeet chick was cleaned up and placed in a humidicrib. It has minor airsac damage and will be raised in WIRES care and released when independent.

These two Kookaburra chicks have also been victims of severe weather. The bigger one named ‘Dino’ was rescued after the storm last Saturday night. Dino’s sibling died and the adult birds fled the scene when their tree came down.  The smaller Kookaburra chick, ‘Screamer’ was rescued after days of torrential rain.

In ‘Screamer’s case the adult Kookaburras sadly didn’t return. Screamer and Dino will be raised together in WIRES care and released when independent.

Due to the shortage of old trees with natural hollows, Laughing Kookaburras  excavate termite mounds to make nesting hollows. The excavation weakens the mound and after days of rain the mounds will often collapse leaving Kookaburra families homeless.

In many such cases a nesting box can be erected, the chicks collected and placed in the nesting box,  and as long as the adult birds are still on site they will happily continue raising their young.

Recently during a period of consecutive days of rain we had 4 such incidents, 4 nesting boxes were erected and normal family life resumed.

After storms, please check for fallen trees or branches on your property. Trees are home to a huge variety of wildlife, birds, possums and gliders just to name a few. They  rely on trees for shelter, nesting hollows and places to raise their young. If you find a bird,  chick or any wildlife on the ground after a storm, put a towel or similar into the bottom of a box (with air holes), place the animal on the towel and cover the box so it cannot escape. Put it in a quiet, warm room while you call WIRES on 1300 094 737. This simple step can save lives!

Thank you to all of the members of the public who called WIRES and reported these rescues, these birds will now have a second chance to live wild and free.

By Julie Marsh