Carers stories 2016
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.
A distressed glider was found entangled on a barbed wire fence in Lismore Shire. The glider was identified as a female juvenile Squirrel Glider, a threatened species. She was rescued and taken to a veterinary hospital where she was treated for her injuries.
Gliders have a patagium, a gliding membrane that extends from the wrist to the ankle, so when the arms and legs are held out, it can volplane (glide) for up to 70 metres in a single flight. It is vitally important that the patagium remain intact as without it, a glider cannot survive in the wild.
The injuries in this case were so severe that the glider was left with almost no patagium. Under normal circumstances a glider with this amount of damage would be euthanised as it would be cruel to release it back into the wild to be preyed upon with no ability to get away.
In rare cases, an otherwise healthy animal that cannot be released back into the wild may be accepted into a breeding program at one of the Zoos around Australia. WIRES enquired and kept the glider in care for about 8 weeks while she healed and waited to see if she would be accepted into a breeding program. Compromised animals that are members of threatened species go on to a special list. If there is an appropriate place for them, then National Parks and Wildlife Service authorise them to go there. For this lucky glider, there was a vacancy in a Squirrel Glider breeding program at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary.
Australian zoos generally operate to capacity so there is simply not the space or the resources to put compromised animals into captive care. If there had been no room for this glider in a program, WIRES would have been ordered to euthanise her.
She is lucky to be alive, but we don't know how she feels about not being able to do the thing she was born to do...glide. At least she may give birth to new gliders of this endangered species and make a priceless contribution to wildlife diversity efforts.
WIRES Northern Rivers wish to thank the many members of the public and the area veterinary clinics who helped us rescue and release so many wild creatures in 2016.
Images by Lib Ruytenberg and Katy Stewart
Almost all birds are very protective of their young and are caring parents. For this reason, wherever possible, WIRES reunites chicks with their parents for the best outcome for the bird families. While carers can house and feed chicks and teach them to recognise food, they cannot teach them the intricacies of their own species.
Just at the stage when they were venturing away from the nest, these two Noisy Miner chicks fell all the way to the ground. Most chicks spend time as 'branchlings' -- gaining strength by hopping up onto a branch, then back to the nest, then hopping around the tree from branch to branch, flapping their wings -- before they actually begin to fly.
Originally the chicks were rescued from the ground and taken into care but they were quickly returned to the park where they had been found. While the parents and extended family flew around protectively, a substitute nest was tied high up in the tree and the chicks were placed in the nest.
The parents immediately brought them some food. Another happy family reunited!
Images by Melanie Barsony
Update on Kookaburra nestling below.
Only one week later and look how much the little little kookaburra nestling from above story has grown!!
You can see the pin feathers emerging, and they really do look like pins at this stage. As the feather grows the bird will preen off the waxy coating and the feather will unfurl.
You can also see that the chick's eyes are just beginning to open.
Image by Melanie Barsony
During late November and early December the Wires Northern Rivers emergency hotline saw an increase in calls for Laughing Kookaburras in trouble.
Here are just a few of the many calls received at that time.
A very young just hatched Laughing Kookaburra chick was found at the base of a large tree surrounded by egg shells. The tree hollow had been invaded by an unexpected predator. The little one was rescued and is currently in care.
The same week another kookaburra chick with pin feathers fell from its tree hollow. As is often the case the hollow was much too high to reach and WIRES was unable to reunite the chick with its parents, it is being raised with other orphaned chicks and will be soft released when old enough.
Then there are those juvenile kookaburras that have taken their first flight from the hollow and come to grief.
Two in the past fortnight were found on the road and another wet and bedraggled after a storm.
These 3 kookaburras were assessed, kept in an aviary for a couple of days where they were observed. They showed good flight skills for youngsters so were reunited back to their individual families.
A Laughing Kookaburra reunite is an experience of pure joy.
A week ago on the outskirts of Lismore at sunrise the extended family of 6 kookaburras welcomed their little one home with a deafening chorus of happiness.
This weekend at Modanville a young kookaburra was taken back to where it was found two days earlier in the middle of the road calling for its parents. As soon as it was placed on a branch both parents landed either side of him. The adults raised their heads and that iconic kookaburra laugh echoed across the valley.
A female kookaburra was found on the road on 23 November, by Phil, who spotted her on Cedar Road at Wilsons Creek. She was stunned and unable to fly. She was taken to Vitality Vet Care in Bangalow for X-Rays which showed no broken bones, but after 5 days of medication, rest and recuperation, she was still unable to fly. Spinal or nervous system damage was suspected. After another week in care on a different medication prescribed by Vitality Vet Care , she was flight tested in a big aviary and given the all clear.
She was taken back to her home on 7 December, where, on a misty morning, she waited in the rescue basket, checking out that she was really home. After a few minutes, she flew off into a nearby tree, waiting to hear the call of her family. A group of kookaburras was heard across the creek, and without a backward glance, she flew off high into the canopy to join them.
A huge thank you to the vet care team in Bangalow and all of the Northern Rivers vet surgeries who give these lovely birds a second chance, also to all of the people in Northern Rivers who noticed these kookaburras in trouble and called the WIRES NR hotline 66281898 for help.
Images by Julie Marsh & Barbara Wilkins
Lizards are unfortunately often victims of domestic dog and cat attacks. Lizards tend to live not just in the bush but also in suburbia where our pets, even if kept secure in our yards, can cause severe damage and death to these native animals.
This Eastern Blue-tongue Lizard was the victim of a dog attack; its injuries were severe and as it was dying gave birth to four tiny babies. The member of the public realised more babies may still be alive and called WIRES for help.
The dead Lizard, including the four babies was quickly brought to a WIRES carer and as a result 12 more baby lizards were safely delivered. Of the 16 babies 15 survived and were released the following day.
Eastern Blue-tongue Lizard is born independent, and eats the placenta and membrane upon birth. This gives them their first nourishment.
Blue-tongues usually live in open country with lots of ground cover such as grasses or leaf litter. They shelter at night among leaf litter or under large objects on the ground such as rocks and logs. Early in the morning blue-tongues emerge to bask in sunny areas before foraging for food during the warmer parts of the day.
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, and these are like ice cream to them. Blue-tongues are not very agile and the animals they eat are mostly slow-moving. Their teeth are large and they have strong jaw muscles so they can crush snail shells and beetles. Care should be taken in using snail baits and insecticides when blue-tongues are living in a garden.
All species of Blue Tongue are able to adapt to living in suburbia. They are common in our gardens, and are considered an asset as they keep the bug numbers down. The life span of the Eastern Blue-tongue is up to 30 years; they will become quite used to you and your family and are a wonderful native animal to share your garden.
WIRES also see many injured by lawn mowers, rather than running away the blue-tongue will try to hide in long grass so please look out for Blue-tongues when mowing long grass!
To keep lizards safe in your garden environment create some safety areas using things like pieces of downpipe, which can be covered with leaf litter or placed amongst your plants.
Images by Joanne Chaffey
A HUGE thank you to Steve Cubis Tree Services for rescuing little Finn yesterday.
Finn is a little black Flying Fox just 5 weeks old. He was in a precarious situation on the end of a branch of a Silky oak tree 15 meters up crying out for help. The strong winds made the situation even worse for such a young animal not yet able to fly.
Steve arrived in record time and the little Flying fox is now in care.
It is birthing time for Flying Foxes .Please call WIRES straight away should you see a Flying Fox alone during the day, it could be a pup or an adult in trouble. Please do not touch the bat, call us for assistance straight away.
Flying Foxes can also be electrocuted on power lines, the adult bat may die but in most cases the juvenile is still very much alive hanging onto mum. If you could spare just few seconds of your time to stop, check for movement and call WIRES if you think there may be a live pup in need of help.
Thank you Steve for your help once again, it is very much appreciated.
WIRES rescuers are being called for many animal mums and bubs this spring -- including possums.
All possums are nocturnal and are active only from dusk till dawn.
The Ringtail is probably the best-known possum to people living in town as it is commonly seen in backyards climbing trees at night looking for food. In the wild, they live in rainforests, eucalypt forests and shrubby woodland, but they have adapted to suburban gardens. They eat fresh new buds of native trees, flowers and fruit.
They build a spherical nest, called a drey, usually in a hollow log lined with leaves and shredded bark. They usually have two or three young.
Ringtails are not particularly aggressive and their territories may overlap with dreys in close proximity to each other. The male will, however, defend his territory from other males, especially if food is scarce.
If you find an injured possum, make note of the exact spot because possums are territorial and will have to be returned to the same location.
Young possums travel on mum's back. If the possum you find is a female, please check the pouch, or there may be one or two bubs close by so check the surrounding area. Young ones will not be able to fend for themselves and will need to be taken into care. Possum joeys need special attention - WIRES will talk you through what to do.
Image by Sharon McGrigor
Wildlife are often harmed when they encounter the items we thoughtlessly toss away.
Fishing line is the cause for many WIRES rescue calls. This poor Brush Turkey was found at a caravan park on the coast. With her leg tangled in fishing line, she was hobbled and in constant pain but still managed to escape rescuers for a long time. Birds commonly have line around their legs but are still able to fly and evade capture. The veterinarian and the carer did all they could to repair the damage and make her comfortable but unfortunately, the injuries were too serious and she did not survive.
To many animals, plastic often resembles tasty natural titbits. For example, the main diet of the albatross is floating jelly fish but to the albatross, a piece of floating plastic looks the same and it all goes down the hatch in one gulp!
Did you know it takes about 3 years for a cigarette filter tip and 5 years for chewing gum to break down in nature? These items may be consumed by wildlife and cause serious illness or death.
Please don't toss your rubbish into the wild. Think carefully about what you leave behind because even many human foods are indigestible or harmful to wildlife. Gather all of your waste and dispose of it properly -- especially fishing line.
Image by Melanie Barsony
Meet Olivia, a grey-headed flying-fox pup in care with WIRES Northern Rivers. Olivia was recently rescued after her mum was found caught on barbed wire. Unfortunately many species of wildlife get caught on barbed wire fences when they are near water, fruiting or flowering trees.
Olivia’s mum was lucky, she was found early and flew away as soon as she was freed from the fence, unfortunately her pup dropped to the ground and was left behind.
Grey-headed flying-foxes are listed as vulnerable to extinction. They are crucial pollinators of our forests, so the rescue of this little bat is environmental gold. She will be returned to the wild when she can fly and feed independently. This will be when she is about 4 months old.
If it is absolutely necessary to use barbed wire please consider using plain wire for the top strand specially where the wire is near flowering trees or near water. You can also improve the visibility of the fence using flagging tape, shiny metal tags or bunting. Flying foxes rely on sight when locating food.
If you see a flying-fox entangled, injured or alone during the daytime, do not touch. Call WIRES Northern Rivers 24 hr hotline on 66 281 898 and one of our vaccinated trained volunteers will rescue the bat.
Image by Lib Ruytenberg
Biodiversity is important to all life on Earth; snakes are part of this diversity as they are a part of the predator species that ensure our ecosystem functions. Without snakes, animals that eat snakes would struggle to find food and rodent species would increase. We tend to forget that snakes and other reptiles make up a significant proportion of the middle-order predators that keep our natural ecosystems working, vital for humans as well as other species.
This Eastern Brown snake was trapped in discarded netting, fortunately it was found by Mark at Mullumbimby before too much damage was done. Snakes are unable to back out of the wire due to its scales pointing backwards. Mark reacted quickly and called WIRES for help.
Eastern Brown snakes eat rodents and are attracted to sheds around houses or farms, where unknowingly food and shelter is often provided by the human inhabitants. In order to avoid the hottest part of the day, snakes will shelter in sheds, houses, under shrubs, corrugated iron left on the ground and in timber stacks.
The Eastern brown snake is generally active during the day, loves the sun and is fast-moving. Never try to kill a snake, not only is it illegal to kill any native animal, but it places you at a higher risk of being bitten. If you were in the snake’s situation, would you try to defend yourself? If you force the snake to defend itself, it can strike with extreme speed, especially if cornered. Don't panic, back away to a safe distance and allow the snake to move away.
In order to lessen the possibility of encountering a snake near your immediate area, ensure that food scraps are disposed of properly to discourage rats and mice, as snakes are attracted to places where they can obtain food. Keep scrubs and bushes at a distance from the house; remove any timber piles and sheets of corrugated iron where snakes will often seek shelter.
Block off any access points to your house, use screens on doors and windows to help reduce the chance of a snake entering in search of shelter or prey.
Should you find a snake inside your house, keep everyone clear of the snake; do not try to catch it, it is in unfamiliar territory and will react defensively.
Close all internal doors and open doors and windows to the outside. Place chairs and boxes under windows to give the snake an avenue of escape. Block the gaps underneath internal doors with rolled up towels in order to stop it moving into another room.
This snake was lucky; WIRES trained snake handlers carefully untangled the snake from the wire and it will be released back in its home territory.
Almost free from the netting
Finally free from netting and about to be taken into care for observation of any possible injury before release.
Never handle a snake unless professionally trained to do so. Call WIRES for help or advice should you encounter a snake inside your house,or as in this case, find one trapped or injured..
Images by Mark, and WIRES snake handler Martin Fitzgerald.
Echidna puggle season is certainly with us in the Northern Rivers.
Lismore Vet clinic took delivery on the first puggle today brought in by Jane from Ruthven. Jane found the tiny 300 gram puggle on her driveway in the sun. Boweena as she has been named by Jane was dehydrated and has cuts and bruises on her body.
The second puggle named Scott, was found on the lawn in Corndale by Scott only an hour later.
Little Scott weighing just 230 gram unfortunately has many ant bites and a rash from the grass covering his body, he is also dehydrated and was most likely orphaned some time ago.
Both are now in intensive care, their recovery will take some time, but they are already proving to be tough little fighters.
Please remember to check surrounding area should you come across an injured Echidna, puggles are still in mums pouch at this time of the year and will roll out of the pouch if mum is injured.
We will keep you updated.
Images by Sue Ulyatt & Leoni Byrn-Jackson
The Red-Legged Pademelon is found in rainforest adjacent to wet sclerophyll forest with dense under story & grassy areas from the tip of Cape York Peninsula in Queensland to around Tamworth in New South Wales.
Joeys rarely come into care as populations are now scattered, and the species is listed as vulnerable.
This female joey came into care in July after mum unfortunately lost her life due to a motor vehicle accident, her joey unharmed in the pouch. She was fully furred and approximately 5.5 months old, she would have spent some time out of the pouch, hopping back in when mum called.
It was not easy for this little Joey at first, but as time went by she settled into care, and after a few weeks met with other joeys already in care.
The Red-Legged Pademelon is a shy animal, it is solitary, but may congregate to browse on grasses, ferns such as Fishbone fern, herbs, fungi, shrubs, soft plants, leaves and fruits of the forest floor, they will also eat insects. They are active from late afternoon through the night to early morning returning to shelter by dawn.
They will rarely venture more than 30-100meters out from the forest edge.
She is seen here now nearly 8 months old.
Images by Sharon McGrigor
At this time of year, we are often called for python rescues where two pythons are cuddled up, having a love-in.
These two were in a workshop in Macleans Ridges. They were quickly bagged and relocated to a nearby creek bank.
They had recently shed so their new skin looked shiny and colourful.
Images by Lib Ruytenberg
Wallaby Joeys spend the first 8 months securely in mums pouch, they may venture out of the pouch when mum allows before this, but only when mum is absolutely sure they will be safe and able to get back in quickly.
Anne-Maree found this little joey back in July, no mum in sight and the joey certainly much too young to be alone as it was only just starting to get fur, its legs not able to bear its body weight for any extended time. Anne-Maree quickly scooped up the little joey and called WIRES.
Juna as she was named has now been in care for two months, she is extremely independent and inquisitive, spending extended time out of her pouch even though she is just 6.5 months old. Other orphans in care at the same stage of development watch her from the safety of their pouches, whilst she is busy browsing.
Images by Sue Ulyatt
Last week, WIRES rescued an Eastern Brown snake that had been trapped in netting left on the floor of a garden workshop. The snake was not alone -- it was trapped with many other items that had become entangled in the netting, too.
Two snake handlers were required to complete the task, one to hold the head and body of the snake and one to cut the mesh away. Fortunately the snake suffered only minor injury and will be released after some time in care.
Native animals, increasingly displaced from their natural habitat by tree clearing and extreme weather, are resorting to flowering and fruiting trees in our gardens. Tree netting is a popular way to protect fruit from wildlife, but the wrong type can be deadly.
Every year thousands of animals are injured in inappropriate backyard netting or discarded netting. It entangles birds, lizards, snakes, bats and the occasional possum. Hungry animals are easily caught in ‘bird netting’, which has a mesh size greater than 1cm square. Wildlife friendly netting should have a mesh size of less than 5mm. A quick test: If you can poke your finger through the netting space, the mesh size is too big.
If you are using netting in your garden, make sure it is the wildlife friendly type and that it is installed in a way that wildlife do not become entangled. The mesh should be white and have holes smaller than 5mm. There are three wildlife friendly brands of netting: Fruitsaver, Hailguard and Vegenet. Ideally the netting should be tightened over a frame which is clear of the foliage. Netting should be gathered and tied at the base of the tree or drawn tightly to the ground and pegged so that no wildlife can get underneath.
Netting should always be stored in closed bags and disposed of carefully. For further tips, search for 'wildlife friendly netting' or have a look at http://www.wires.org.au/wildlife-info/wildlife-factsheets/wildlife-friendly-netting
Images by Lib Ruytenberg
Watch out on the roads! Every spring, we remind you that we share our roads with wildlife.
The WIRES hotline is receiving increasing calls about reptiles. The most common large lizards, bearded dragons, water dragons and smaller lizards and skinks as well as snakes are emerging. As the weather warms, reptiles of various species will be on the move -- on the roads and crossing your path when you mow.
Lizards and snakes often sun themselves on roads, particularly during the middle of the day. When we are driving, a grey lizard on grey bitumen is difficult to detect. A snake sunning itself on a road is so still it might look like a stick. Off the road, many of these animals are also well camouflaged.
Keeping children entertained on an extended drive is always a challenge. Why not have a competition to spot wildlife? Explain that the object is to avoid injuring animals on the road and ask the children to keep their eyes peeled ahead and warn you if they see something.
With more frequent mowing schedules coming up, play the game with yourself. See if you can spot the wildlife in the path of your mower!
As always, if you cannot avoid an encounter, or if you find an injured animal, please call WIRES. Remember to add our Hotline to your contacts. We appreciate your help.
Contact WIRES for rescues, advice or enquiries. The 24-hour hotline is for all calls to WIRES in the Northern Rivers - 6628 1898.
Images by lib Ruytenberg
A gentleman in Marom Creek had two large pythons take up residence in the ceiling space of his home. They would come out into the gutter for their morning sunbath.
The property owner wanted to install new gutterguard which would exclude the pythons but did not want them trapped in the ceiling space. The pythons eluded capture on the first WIRES visit.
A few days later, one of the snakes went into the laundry. It was then easy for the WIRES snake handler to catch.
It was relocated nearby, and took a dip in the creek after being released.
Images by Lib Ruytenberg
The first magpie fledgling for the season came into care on Friday 16th September.
It fell from a nest that was unfortunately too high for us to reach and reunite the fledgling with its siblings.
A substitute nest was not an option as there were siblings in the original nest which meant that the parents would be unable to attend both.
Once this little magpie and its siblings are ready to leave the nest, this little one will be reunited with its family back at Coraki. Until then it is being cared for by WIRES.
Image by Julie Marsh
The purchasers of a farming property in Casino went to some trouble to consider wildlife when removing dead trees. Aware of how important old hollows are for many species in our region, they decided to leave as many on site as possible.
One tree in particular posed a threat as it was in danger of falling and it was thought no wildlife were present. As the tree was slowly pushed over, a long hollow branch broke and revealed two Scaly-breasted lorikeet chicks in the bottom. They took the birds to Casino Vet Clinic where they were carefully checked for injuries. Both were in fine condition and the vet rang WIRES.
The proprietors agreed to leave the fallen tree until the chicks are old enough to move on so it was decided to try a reunite with the parents.
The lorikeet parents arrived as soon as their chicks were brought on site. The nest box was securely positioned as high up as possible in the fallen tree. The chicks were deposited into the new nest box, under the watchful gaze of the parents. Reunite successful.
If trees have to be cut down, it can be done with consideration for the wildlife who use them. In this case, the hollow branches in the old fallen tree will be harvested and made into new nest hollows for erection on the same site.
Image by Melanie Barsony
On the 18th of July, the editor of the Lismore Echo rang the WIRES hotline. A Barn Owl was injured when he hit the glass of one of the Northern Star's large windows. She reported that the owl was still breathing but not looking good and that the staff had promptly wrapped him up to keep him warm and still.
A WIRES volunteer rescuer arrived and took the owl to the Casino Vet Clinic. A thorough examination included a check of the eyes for internal injury, which often occurs with collisions. The diagnosis: serious concussion and bleeding from the nasal passages. Fortunately, his eyes were fine and no further bodily injuries were discovered.
The patient was kept in hospital for a while, where he was initially given fluids and later easily digestible food. Once rehydrated, he was transferred into WIRES care where he spent a few days in a large aviary, the last stage of rehabilitation for birds before release back into the wild. There he was able to get back into the habit of eating live food and do lots of flying to regain his strength.
Ten days after the incident, the owl was released at dark, near where he was found, just outside of town and away from bright lights and big windows. He took off quickly and silently, once again free to continue his wild life.
Image by Melanie Barsony
On Sunday, WIRES was Charity of the Day courtesy of the Byron Markets. Over $1200 was raised to support WIRES work rescuing and releasing wildlife in the Northern Rivers.
A WIRES basic training workshop is coming up on 18 September. Pre-registration is required. Call the 24-hour hotline now at 6628 1898 or go to http://wiresnr.org/Helping.html to find out more.
Image by Barbara Wilkins
On 17 April this year, a wallaby was hit by a car on Lighthouse Road in Byron Bay. The female swamp wallaby managed to drag herself to a narrow 1.5m strip of land, bordered by the wooden walkway near Captain Cook Lookout car park and Lighthouse Road, before she died from her injuries.
Her joey, fortunately on foot and not in her pouch, was not involved in the collision. The young one, furred and mobile, had followed her mother away from the road. Traumatised and disoriented, she spent part of the time hiding in the bushes nearby and part of the time by her mother, rubbing her head on her mum's still face.
Concerned members of the public phoned WIRES and National Parks and Wildlife Service. Both organisations responded immediately and joined forces to resolve the situation. NPWS had officers positioned at both ends of the track, managing the curious onlookers and answering questions about the event.
After three hours of coordinated effort, NPWS and WIRES were able to capture the joey. Still too young to fend for herself, she was taken into care by WIRES.
Now, nearly four months later, she is fit and healthy and ready for release back into the wild.
Image by Annie Crowley
Microbats are mammals. Although covered with fur, microbats are warm-blooded placental animals and they nourish their young with milk produced by the mothers.
Bats share our senses -- smell, hearing, sight and touch -- but they have the added benefits of flight and an exceptional system of navigation and prey detection. Unlike flying foxes, microbats use echolocation to detect objects (although they can see). They produce high frequency sound pulses through the nose or mouth. A flap of skin in front of the ear directs the returning echoes to make a ‘sound picture’.
When cruising microbats emit about 10 pulses per second. When an insect is detected the pulses go up to over 100 per second.
There are dozens of species of microbats in our region, ranging from 3 to 30 grams. Many are on the Threatened Species list. Most roost in tree hollows or under bark but some species take up residence in building cavities.
These petite creatures generally live in colonies of half a dozen. They are excellent insect controllers, consuming 50% of their body weight in insects every night.
Their droppings are not known to be a source of disease and will dry quickly with little or no odour. Microbats are clean and sociable animals that will not gnaw wood, wires or insulation.
They'll clean up your mozzies and be no trouble to you.
Image by Lib Ruytenberg
This wonderful message and images were received yesterday after WIRES member Lee went to the rescue of a possibly injured Echidna. The unfortunate animal had entered a live rat trap and although the Echidna had been released from the trap it did not seem to want to move on. We are very grateful to Charmaine for calling and letting us check out the animal. Fortunately the Echidna was just fine.
If you use live traps please remember to check them daily. WIRES is called for many different critters inadvertently caught in live traps.
Hi there, thank you to Lee and the TEAM at WIRES for your advice on my recent short adventure with this young echidna. After worrying about him being flat out on the north side of the house in the sun and sat in a rat trap for a couple of hours (while I worried it was sick) it soon after went on to knock over everything on the verandah, climb up a large rock wall, and root through the wood pile all while ignoring me taking pics. An echidna teenager: sleeps in, doesn't care, makes a mess, how wonderful!
Thank you for being on the phone when needed for advice!
Images published with permission of Charmaine Crispin
A surprising way to help wildlife is to dispose of your rubbish in a thoughtful way.
Many small plastic items are colourful and interesting. Curious wildlife may swallow them or end up 'wearing' them. Drink cans are deadly traps. Small snakes may become trapped inside - snakes are unable to back up because of the structure of their scales. Other small creatures poke a nose in and are unable to pull their heads out. Plastic bags are notorious: wildlife may eat them or be caught inside them. Plastic bags end up in our waterways, endangering turtles and platypus and cluttering the environment for marine life.
WIRES also receives a large number of calls to rescue birds injured by or tangled in fishing line. If you go fishing, keep discarded line and dispose of it responsibly.
Orchard netting, often left in piles in yards or sheds when no longer needed, is a common trap for snakes and small animals. Store netting securely where wildlife cannot access it. Learn how to use netting properly to protect your trees without endangering wildlife.
Local recycling programs and free tip days make it easier than ever to dispose of plastics and other items. Take a little bit of time to consider how you dispose of rubbish or store unused garden items.
How we responsibly dispose of rubbish can help prevent severe injuries and death to inquisitive or hungry creatures.
This snake was lucky, released after being untangled from netting,
Image by Melanie Barsony
Abut two months ago, a young male ringtail possum came into WIRES care.
He was accidentally cut by a chainsaw. Considering the possum himself was only 10cm long, the 4cm gash on his back is a very serious one.
A local veterinarian performed surgery immediately to stitch the little guy back together. Following surgery, he was delivered into the hands of a WIRES carer and put on a regime of painkillers and antibiotics.
His carer tended to his sutures, making sure they did not rupture. The daily care routine included feeding him a balanced diet appropriate for his species and putting healing honey on his wound. To date he is doing very well and is getting ready for life back in the wild once he is old enough to fend for himself. The carer reports that he is very feisty and a real survivor.
Image above was taken after surgery by WIRES carer
This is Tom Thumb. He is a Red-necked Pademelon and he came into care after a car accident where he lost his mum.
Tom Thumb is five months old and has been in care for a while; he is well settled into his temporary new life. He will be released in approximately 6 months’ time.
He spends a lot of time still in his temporary pouch, but he is also becoming a bit more independent and prefers to do his own thing at times.
The last place you would imagine finding a Sugar Glider is in your fireplace.
After six weeks away on holiday Annette returned home and to her surprise found this adult Female Sugar Glider inside her fireplace. WIRES was contacted straight away.
The glider was dehydrated and very thin, how long she had been trapped inside the fireplace we do not know .
She was given much needed fluid and glider food, and over the coming days started to feel a lot better, energy returned and after exactly one week in care she was tonight brought back to Annette’s property.
WIRES volunteer Jeanette opened the carrier where the glider was patiently waiting, and held it high next to a tree in the garden. The glider sniffed the air and slowly ventured out. Next thing the gliders hesitation disappeared, she realised she was home and she quickly leapt from the carrier up onto the tree trunk, where she took off and gild across to the next tree and from there to the next one in line, once there she took off into the tree top.
Gliders such as this are territorial, they know where their home is located, they also know that other gliders do not tolerate intrusion in their territory.
Thank you Annette for calling WIRES, allowing our volunteer to nurse this beautiful Glider back to health and return her to her home somewhere in your garden.
She will in return act as insect control and keep your trees free from lerps and galls which is part of her food supply.
Image by Jeanette Dundas
Darren Keane a photographer from Melbourne was in the Northern Rivers area recently. On his way to Protester Falls about 5 Kim's past The Channon Darren came across a Coastal carpet python slowly crossing Terania Creek Rd. Knowing that the reptile was in danger on the road he stopped to slow approaching traffic, however he had not intended to offer the stranger a lift....
As Darren was diverting traffic 'Monty' sought refuge in in his cars engine bay.
Following the advice and efforts of some friendly locals Darren called WIRES for help.
On arrival the WIRES reptile handler found that Monty had moved from the engine bay to the suspension coil above the front wheel.
Monty had secured a solid hold and was not keen to give up his new found security. Following over an hour of persuasion by WIRES reptile handler it was decided that the score was Python 1, humans 0, the python was not about to move any time soon..
Driver and rescuer retreated taking the tourist back to his accommodation in Byron Bay and leaving Monty with the car to consider his position with a view to moving on.
The following day found Monty still enjoying his new found home now back in the engine bay.
The following 90 minutes involved advice from mechanics, removal of some hosing, a firm hold on the python by the handler and a gentle massage for the snake by the driver and then on que Monty, realising he was in safe hands, relinquished his hold and surrendered to his rescuers.
Following a thorough check for injury and ensuring full body movement Monty was relocated close by in a sunny spot to heat up and resume his life in the wild.
A big thank you goes out to Darren for remaining so relaxed and keeping the python at the forefront of his thoughts through the process, however next time he stops to help a snake he will park his car a few meters further away.
Almost 24 hours after Darren and Monty crossed paths both were back on their merry way.
Image credit Darren Keane Photography
These last few weeks we have had increasing calls for Echidnas in trouble.
Echidnas are solitary animals often seen in our gardens rolling into a ball when approached or disturbed. July and August is breeding time for Echidnas where we see them move about looking for a mate. You may be lucky and see a train of Echidnas, with as many as 2 - 10 walking in a line, the female will be at the front, with the males following along behind. The female may lead the males around like this for weeks and males may lose up to a quarter of their body size. The males are, of course, hoping to mate with the female who will eventually choose only one.
This is happening right now even though it is early in the season.
Due to the distance some Echidnas are traveling in search of a mate many are being injured mainly being hit by cars as they cross roads usually avoided.
This Echidna is one of the lucky ones, he was hit by a car on Bangalow Road a few nights ago, lucky for him the motorist stopped scooped up the animal and called WIRES. Bubbles as he was named by his rescuer had some broken spines, but x-rays showed he had no broken bones. He has been kept in care long enough to ensure he is healthy and able to fend for himself. He will be released tonight into the bush where he was heading when he had his accident.
It is thought from studies that Echidnas do not breed till at least 5 years old, and even though we do not know the average life span of Echidnas, they have survived for over 50 years in captivity.
Please take care on our roads; Echidnas are not able to move of the road at speed. Should you see an injured animal please stop and call for help.
WIRES Northern Rivers emergency hotline is operational 24 hours 66281898
Thank you Kath for stopping and calling WIRES.
Bubbles seen below, patiently waiting for his release tonight.
Image by Leoni Byron-Jackson
Did you know that WIRES does a lot more than rescue and care for wildlife? They keep meticulous records of all activities and regularly share statistics with government and research bodies.
Murdoch University's School of Veterinary & Life Sciences in Western Australia have been researching ticks from companion animals and wildlife, specifically Echidna ticks. They have just asked the Northern Rivers Branch again (WIRES participated in this project two years ago as well) to provide assistance in these studies about ticks and tick-borne disease.
The research team sends out kits that enable local WIRES volunteers to collect ticks and send them to the lab in Western Australia.
Just a few examples of other WIRES projects: We participate in the national flying-fox monitoring program, designed to collect data on the abundance and distribution of flying-foxes in eastern Australia. As part of the Australian Bird and Bat Banding Scheme to manage information on threatened and migratory bird and bat species, we band or tag some animals before release.
In addition, WIRES Northern Rivers volunteers attend conferences and courses throughout Australia and around the world as part of their professional development in wildlife knowledge and care.
Image by Sharon McGrigor
A call recently came in to WIRES for advice. A possum had taken up residence in a chimney and the homeowners weren't sure how to persuade it to leave. The fireplace is their main source of heat during the winter so they were also keen to avoid injuring the little marsupial.
As the weather turns quite cool in our region, you may find that certain creatures will attempt to find space somewhere inside your residence. Roof spaces and chimneys are popular but wildlife will find any sheltered spot if there is access.
The best action to take is prevention. Install wire mesh on your chimney and to block off other entry points to keep animals out. Be sure to thoroughly check first so that you are not inadvertently trapping a creature inside. For possums, illuminate the space continuously for up to three days with a portable light; possums will go elsewhere to sleep.
Habitat loss is a primary cause of animals seeking shelter in our homes. You can easily provide an alternative home for animals by making or purchasing a wildlife box. Place the new home close by in a suitable tree. Remember they will need shade, as a box heats up quickly in the sun. The box will need to be at least three metres from the ground to ensure predators cannot reach it. Wildlife box designs can be found on the WIRES NR website.
Image by Julie Reid
WIRES is busy lately with quite a few Tawny Frogmouth rescues. Most are found on or by the side of the road. As some other birds do, they come down at night to feast on the insects attracted to the headlamps and are hit by moving cars. At best, they suffer bruising or concussion and may recover but too many do not survive.
Others are caught and injured by barbed wire. If you have barbed wire, there are ways to help wildlife avoid being trapped - give us a call for details.
Because Tawnys are nocturnal, they are commonly mistaken for owls but they are not. They are members of the nightjar family. Here in the Northern Rivers, as well as Tawny Frogmouths, we have White-throated Nightjars and Owlet Nightjars and rarely the threatened species Marbled Frogmouths.
There is anecdotal evidence of Tawnys flying past motion sensor lights outside houses to make them turn on, then waiting until the insects arrive! They are also found in urban areas due to the lights. Well camouflaged, they sit with their heads stretched up to look like a tree branch.
Please exercise your usual caution when driving in the dark and let WIRES know if you spot an injured animal.
Image by Elk Anstey
A rescued bird may be found to have missing feathers that have been completely pulled out as the result of an attack by a predator or a collision.
All feathers are important and flight feathers are of course essential for a bird to survive in the wild. Tail feathers are equally important as they enable a bird to manoeuvre in flight and decrease speed when landing. Some birds will shed feathers as a defence mechanism, such as pigeons and doves, to enable them to slip away from a predator. They will then grow their feathers back relatively quickly, in only weeks rather than the months required for some other species.
This beautiful little Yellow-faced Honeyeater was rescued after a small dog caught him/her, possibly after he collided with a window.
Fortunately there were no serious injuries apart from the loss of all the primary feathers bar one on one wing, and all his tail feathers.
After two weeks in care, all his feathers have started to grow back and are now about 1.5cm long.
Yellow faced Honeyeater habits are interesting as they are migratory within Australia, leaving cooler areas during autumn to head north to northern NSW and south eastern Queensland. There have been reports of thousands of birds flying together as they migrate, sometimes joined by other honeyeaters and small Silvereyes. Some birds however do remain sedentary in the one area.
It is hard to say whether this little bird is still heading north, is sedentary or has already arrived at his northern destination. After consulting with other experienced bird people from around the state,
the decision has been made that when the feathers have fully grown back, he will be released where he was found in Kyogle where they are found to still be around.
Image by Melanie Barsony
Australia is home to about 23 species of freshwater turtles. Most of these ‘side-necked’ turtles retract their head and neck beneath their shell by folding it to one side, rather than drawing their head backwards as most of the world’s species of turtles and tortoises do.
The Eastern long-necked turtle is found throughout most of NSW. Easily recognisable by its under shell of pale yellow shields with black margins, it is often seen crossing roads. It is carnivorous, feeding mostly on small invertebrates such as worms, snails and insect larvae, including mosquitoes. WIRES recently rescued a long-neck with a cracked shell. Lismore Veterinary Clinic repaired the crack and the turtle was in care on antibiotics for two weeks before being released.
The Eastern saw-shelled turtle inhabits the rivers of the NSW north coast and hinterland. Its name derives from the saw-toothed rear edge of its upper shell or carapace, although this feature is not always present in adults. It has an omnivorous diet, consuming both plants and animals. Last week, a very young saw-shell was found on the shop floor at Richmond Sand, Gravel & Landscaping. The lucky baby was spotted even though it was only the size of a 20-cent coin. Employees suspect it came in on one of their utes full of garden material. As it was found to be in good health and uninjured, the young turtle was released into a local waterway.
Image by Melanie Barsony
Layne, the Surfing Flying-fox.
WIRES Northern Rivers took a hotline call for a very unusual rescue. A flying-fox had washed up on the beach at Evans Head, entangled in seaweed. A WIRES volunteer rescuer was soon on the scene with the necessary first aid. The flying-fox was a juvenile female Little red. She was named Layne after the Australian world champion surfer. She was given a warm bath to remove all the sand and is recovering well from her traumatic experience. She will soon be released with others of her species.
Little red flying-foxes have different feeding, migratory and reproduction patterns than the other two megabat species we have in the Northern River; the grey-headed and the black flying-fox.
Little reds have their young in May and migrate to Queensland for the maternity season. Normally they leave NSW in March, but with our unusually mild Autumn this year, many have delayed their trip North.
All flying-foxes have a crucial environmental role in pollination and seed dispersal. Many of our hardwood eucalypts are only receptive to nocturnal pollination.
Habitat loss is the main reason for conflict between humans in urban areas and the flying-foxes who camp in near towns where suitable vegetation is found. Long term planning around vegetation management and bush regeneration are the essential strategies for sharing our habitat with these essential “flying gardeners.”
Image by Lib Ruytenberg
An observant member of the public noticed a Noisy miner trapped in a cage placed over a fluorescent light in a public park in Lismore. It apparently managed to get into the cage to catch the insects attracted by the light, but was unable to make its way out again.
WIRES was called to the rescue.
Two WIRES volunteer rescuers attended and after initial attempts to rescue the miner, they soon realised that further assistance was required.
Lismore City Council was contacted and within 30 minutes a council employee arrived. At the same time a local tradesman also turned up.
After only a short time the Noisy mirror was released by this combined community effort.
As soon as the miner was released his partner arrived. The rescued miner is the one on the right and strikes a pose for the photo!
A big thank you to WIRES volunteers Marion and Julie, our observant member of the Public Matt for calling the Wires NR hotline, Lismore City Council and Graig from Kaban's Pest Control. It is wonderful when so many people make an effort to help our native wildlife.
Images by Marion Nell
This very late in the season Blue-faced Honeyeater nestling was rescued after the palm tree its nest was in fell over in strong winds.
The homeowner called WIRES and a volunteer carefully checked the chick for injuries.
It was given the all clear and when the weather cleared, it was taken back to reunite it with its family.
A substitute nest was securely tied into a nearby pony-tail palm, which provided protection from the wind as well as from the local currawongs and noisy miners.
The rescuers stood out of sight to watch while the chick called and the parents answered. It wasn’t long before the parent bird flew in and sat in the nest with her returned chick.
The very best outcome for the bird family and our carers!
Images by Jane Donovan
Please take care on our roads and slow down for wildlife. If you do accidently hit an animal or bird, please stop where it is safe to do so, and see if it needs help. Many birds are injured on our roads but often can be saved with treatment and care. Birds feel pain the same just as we do and it is important to help them wherever possible.
These two birds were both hit by cars recently. The White-headed Pigeon was struck heavily and was found sitting on the roadside by another passing motorist. It suffered a badly fractured leg and internal injuries and sadly could not be saved.
The Laughing Kookaburra has been luckier. The motorist could not avoid running into it as it flew up in front of him but fortunately he stopped to check if it was ok. To his dismay, found the kookaburra wedged in the front grill of his car. He gently removed the bird and called WIRES. Amazingly the kookaburra did not have any broken bones; it suffered from bruising and shock and will be released when it has recovered from its ordeal. Imagine the awful outcome if the driver had not stopped to check!
Images by Melanie Barsony
This year a rather late feathered Channel-billed Cuckoo chick was rescued west of Casino, dishevelled and underweight. Rather than the usual foster parents such as crows and currawongs, perhaps this chicks foster parents were smaller Magpie Larks who just couldn’t cope with their huge, demanding chick!
While in care it is important to provide these birds with enough space so they can build up strength while ensuring their feathers are in kept in perfect condition. They have a long arduous journey ahead of them.
This Channel-bill chick has thrived in care and has grown quickly. He/she learned to pick up food quickly as well, an important survival trait as they are not taught their natural diet by their foster parents.
After four weeks in care he was flying strongly and soft released, which means he was support fed while learning to find enough food himself. After another two weeks, the weather became colder and he left for the long flight north to New Guinea or even as far as Indonesia.
Images by Melanie Barsony
Please do not leave discarded netting around your back yard or property, dispose of it responsibly.
Discarded netting can be a death trap for many creatures such as this Eastern Brown snake called into out hotline this morning.
WIRES volunteer snake handler Bryce, spent 30 minutes untangling and cutting the netting, having to be extremely careful not to injure the terrified snake, and at the same time ensuring his own safety whilst dealing with this potential dangerous animal.
Fortunately it was a good outcome for the unfortunate Eastern Brown snake that after a health check was relocated well away from human activity.
WIRES would like to thank the caller for acting immediately when the unfortunate snake was discovered.
Almost 10 weeks ago, a young Swamp wallaby joey was found near Tyagarah Airfield, sitting at the side of the road by the body of his mother who had been hit by a car. Thanks to an observant passer-by who called WIRES, the wallaby joey quickly came into care.
Wallabies are very timid, sensitive and gentle creatures who are prone to suffer badly from stressful events. There was the threat of myopathy, leading to a slow and painful death. He would need close monitoring during his initial care period in a quiet, inside space.
After a couple of days, he was taking to his food well, his eyes were bright and he was examining his surroundings with healthy curiosity. However, the way he held himself in his handmade pouch seemed a little out of kilter. He was encouraged to hop out to see if all was in order. After one hop he collapsed on his right hind leg. He was immediately taken to Vitality Vetcare, Bangalow's holistic veterinary practice.
X-rays revealing serious injuries were sent to Currumbin Wildlife Hospital for feedback. It was decided that delicate and complex surgery was required. The critical question: Would the young wallaby survive the surgery and if he did, would he be able to live freely and independently in the bush?
The Vitality team decided to go ahead. After three hours of surgery, the young wallaby went home with his WIRES carer where he was to be kept quiet and confined for a period of four weeks. The first few days post-surgery were not difficult but as the little one's spirit revived and his health improved, he seriously challenged the carer in her efforts.
Consultation took place again, this time with the WIRES Northern Rivers macropod coordinator. The wallaby would be allowed into an outside enclosure with other wallabies but he still had to be limited in movement. An upside down baby cot with his personal pouch was installed in a large outdoor enclosure. He was able to enjoy being outside -- basking in sunshine, munching green grass and interacting with other wallabies -- even while his physical exertions were limited.
Four weeks after surgery, the patient was taken to Vitality Vetcare again. Pins were removed and new x-rays taken. The surgery was an overwhelming success. WIRES would be able to release another rescued animal back into the wild once he is old enough to fend for himself.
Thank you Michael from Tyagarah for calling WIRES
Thank you Vitality Vetcare for your continued support and help.
Images by Annie Crowley .
Early this week, WIRES rescued this juvenile Grey Goshawk believed to have been hit by a car. Examination and x-rays resulted in the shocking discovery that this raptor had gunshot wounds, a rare occurrence in WIRES Northern Rivers' experience.
It seems she was shot at close range with three lead pellets that badly fractured her leg. Despite immediate care by vets in Casino and emergency treatment at Currumbin Wildlife Hospital in Queensland, she was unable to be saved.
The fracture was 3 to 4 weeks old and would have partially healed and then re-broken every time the bird moved. The young raptor was probably just over one year old and still sharpening her hunting skills. She would have suffered great pain during those few weeks.
All native birds are protected in NSW by the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974. Intentionally harming wildlife is against the law. Whether this was an attempt to protect domestic animals or an intentional act of cruelty, it is good to remember that animals are only following their instincts and taking advantage of the opportunities available to them, just as we all do. If you keep domestic animals, such as chickens for example, protect them by providing adequate shelter from wild predators.
Image by Melanie Barsony
Frogs have been around for at least 180 million years and are a valuable nutrient in the food chain as well as an indicator of the water quality. Frogs are preyed upon by all sorts of creatures -- wading birds stalking the shallows of water courses, diving birds, fish, freshwater tortoises, larger frogs and snakes. Frogs are even eaten by aquatic insects in the tadpole stage.
Scientists all over the world have noted the decline in frog populations, which is thought to be mainly due to human impact on the landscape. They have also found a decline in frog populations in relatively pristine environments, which is why frog conservation groups are busily taking note of the frogs of the world.
One third of Australia’s frog species occur in our dwindling rainforests. We can help increase frog populations by not draining breeding sites of water, not introducing new fish species to fish ponds, and in fact changing a fish pond into a frog pond.
It is also crucial that we stop the use of poisons around frog breeding areas.
Image by Katherine Grieveson
This Laughing Kookaburra is part of a family of kookaburras living in Byron Bay on a WIRES volunteer’s property. Our volunteer has been watching them for years and knows them individually.
Last week she noticed that one seemed to be having problems feeding due to a leg injury. Birds that live amongst us get used to seeing us; they watch us every day and to some extent loose the fear of those particular people. If a bird is in trouble these people may be able to catch the injured bird, where a stranger would have no chance at all.
In this case the occupant of the house was able to catch the kookaburra and take it to the vet.
Radiographs showed the kookaburra’s leg was badly fractured and due to the complicated injury, it was transported to Currumbin Wildlife Hospital for specialised treatment. The kookaburra is now in care with experienced WIRES bird carer Julie and over the next few weeks will have regular checkups with a local vet for x-rays and bandage changes.
When fully recovered and 100% fit and healthy again, kookaburra will be released back with its family group.
Image by Julie Marsh
Tackita is a female Mountain Brushtail that came into care at just 59 gram on the 19th January. A Mountain Brushtail possum this young is rarely able to be reared as it is just too young. If there is any injury what so ever, if the joey is left to go even slightly cold before being found it is almost impossible to save them.
Tackita was rescued after a motorist spotted a possum on the road desperately trying to retrieve her joey that was also on the road.
Possums are not in a position to “ pick up” their young, the little one has to climb into the pouch itself whilst mum tries to make it as easy as possible opening her pouch and encouraging her joey. Possum joeys do not leave the safety of mums pouch before they are what we call velvet, that means they have a fine covering of fur, their eyes are open and they are strong enough to climb in and out of the pouch. At first they climb straight up onto mums back, and back into the pouch after only a short time. As they get stronger they may venture a bit further and try their skills at climbing onto a branch whilst mum is foraging very close by.
This little possum was much too young to be out of the pouch and she was not strong enough to get back in. The motorist stood back knowing that disturbance would result in mum having no choice but to leave. Sadly it was all in vain, the joey was just too small to get back into the pouch.
Although there were no visible injuries on mum she had most likely been hit by a car which is how the tiny joey had fallen out.
Tackita had no fur, her eyes were not yet open, she was only 3 months old. It would be another two months before she would be big enough to climb out of mums pouch for short periods of time.
The motorist was quick to pick up the joey and keep her warm when mum finally gave up as there was no choice but to leave her joey behind, she disappeared into the bush.
WIRES was contacted straight away and the joey taken into care. She was still nice and warm and she had no injuries.
Had the joey been more developed we would have tried to reunite mum and joey, even gone back the following evening in order to try to reunite..
Unfortunately one this young would get too cold in the time it would take for mum to hear her joey call, she would also not be able to hang onto a branch for mum to collect her and we already knew the joey was too young to climb back in even if all of the above could be managed.
It is a huge commitment for a volunteer to care for a marsupial this young, they are fed 3 hourly around the clock, and there is no respite for many weeks. In many cases they do not make it past the first week due to complications or injury not visible at first. This in itself can be an emotional roller coaster.
Tackita never looked back; in fact she thrived in care. As she grew she was given a soft toy to cling to, it became her substitute mum.
She is now 263gms and very independent. She drinks her special possum formula from a D cup all by herself in the enclosure where she is now housed; she has started eating foliage and even goes to the toilet by herself. Tackita will be buddied up with another orphaned Mountain Brushtail possum and eventually they will make their way back into the wild together. That is still many months away, till then Tackita enjoys snuggling up with her snuggle possum .
Images by Sue Ulyatt & Jeanette Dundas
Water Dragons are a common sight at many of our local nature spots, as well as our gardens in the Northern Rivers.
This little fellow was found at Southern Cross University, very undernourished and with a severely injured tail.
WIRES was contacted and after examination he was taken to Lismore Central vet clinic where the injured part of his tail was amputated.
He has now been in care for just over a week and things are looking much better.
He is kept in an enclosure with thermal support, which he can choose to be near if needed. Once his wound has healed and his weight is back to normal, he will return to the University and resume position on his favourite rock.
Image by Marion Nel
Easter Sunday turned out to be a bit of an ordeal for a little White Headed Pigeon fledgling at Alstonville. Learning to fly takes practice and during this time chicks can be quite vulnerable. After leaving their nest, chicks gain strength by flapping their wings and jumping from branch to branch and when strong enough they follow the parent birds when they fly off to feed.
Sometimes are not quite ready and end up on the ground. When this mother pigeon flew off to feed on native berries, the little fledgling attempted to follow but became exhausted and tumbled to the ground. Unfortunately magpies spotted the little one before the adults returned and immediately started to harass the fledgling.
Resident Paul saw what was taking place and after rescuing the little fledgling called WIRES and it was taken into care. A careful examination showed that luckily there was nothing wrong with the little bird apart from being a bit too enthusiastic, thinking it was ready to fly. It was given fluids and a good feed and left to rest for the remainder of the day.
The following day it was taken back to the spot where it was found and put up on a branch high enough for it to try its wings again. It waited patiently for the parent bird to return.
It did not take too long before Mum spotted her offspring; relieved she landed next to it, and after a short time both flew of together.
Learning to fly is exciting; however it can soon turn into a disaster if the little one is not quite ready. In this case all that was required was a rest , one more day and the little White Headed Pigeon was on its way as nature intended.
Thank you Paul for being observant and calling WIRES.
Images by Jane Donovan
This juvenile Sugar Glider was observed alone over two days in the trees close to a house at Rosebank. On the third day the little glider was curled up on a tree stump close to the ground.
When Jenny, the occupant of the house, saw the little Glider she knew something was wrong, a Suger Glider would not be in this position so close to the ground, all alone during daylight hours.
WIRES was contacted and the little fellow was brought into care. He was dehydrated and even though he looked fine as his fur was so dense, he was extremely malnourished, he had almost certainly been separated from his mum for quite some time, and he was much too young to fend for himself. He had given up on life when Jenny found him on the stump.
He was closely examined by our WIRES volunteer, knowing he had been alone for at least three days it was unlikely that he had been attacked by a cat, as unfortunately this is the most common reason for these small gliders to come into care. Had this been the case he would by now be suffering severe infection, but that was not the case. He seemed unharmed, apart from a sore eye, but so thin and dehydrated he did not have enough strength to put up a fight when handled by what to him would be a human predator.
He was slowly warmed up, even though it was a warm early March day, he was cold to touch, once warm, he was rehydrated, this took some time, but over the next 12 hours he started to respond, and finally he was able to drink some special Glider formula.
Over the next 3 days he became stronger, his sore eye did not clear up and he was treated with antibiotics, and as he got stronger it became obvious he was longing for his family. Sugar Gliders live in family groups and are never alone.
A big decision had to be made, did we risk putting him back into the trees, where he may or may not find his family?
We had to consider why he had been separated in the first place. There could be a variety of reasons; however a Sugar Glider at this stage of development would have been following his mum and sibling for quite some time, each night looking for insects and nectar, going back to their home at night just before dawn. He would have known where to go, fact is he had not returned to his home, instead he had been in the trees with no shelter or hiding places for 3 nights all alone. Something must have happened to his home and family.
The decision was made to unite him with another little orphan, a female Sugar Glider that had been in care since she was very young, now very close in development to this little fellow.
Both orphans had their own Glider boxes, but it took less than 12 hours before the two orphans were snuggled up together. They are now inseparable and will be released together once old enough to fend for themselves, which is coming up fairly soon.
Image by Sue Ulyatt
Some of you may remember the story of Millie from last year.
In October last year Millie the Red-Necked wallaby joey was found by a school boy traveling home on the school bus. As soon as he was off the bus he asked dad to drive to the spot where he had seen the dead wallaby, as he had also seen a little joey standing nearby.
Dad drove back to the spot, where the little joey was still close to mum, after picking up the little orphan dad called WIRES as soon as he returned home.
Millie’s ( she was named by her rescuer) tail was badly damaged; most likely she was thrown out of the pouch on impact when mum was killed.
She was taken to Lismore Central vet clinic where she was operated on to remove a section of her badly damaged tail. She was given pain medication as well as antibiotics and spent the next after 5 weeks recovering, being brought back to the vet every week to check her bandage.
Finally the big day came where she had her stitches removed and was free to start hopping around with other joeys in care.
The big question would now be could she hold her balance after losing part of her tail? Even though it was only a fairly small section of her tail that had been amputated knowing that a wallaby relies on the tail for balance it was a tense time. But Millie took it all in her stride, she had no disability, she hopped as well as all the others.
Now 5 months later her journey back to the wild is almost at an end. She is now exploring the world outside the enclosure during the day, and she comes back each evening with three fellow orphans, all at the same stage of development.
They will be ready for final release in about 6 weeks.
Millie is seen here exploring and getting to know the wild locals.
Hopping and balance is no issue for Millie
Images by Renata Phelps & Susanne Ulyatt
Three wallaby joeys came into care yesterday, all from different areas. Two of these were found alone with no mum in sight.
One was a little Pademelon, sadly she had been alone for days, she was malnourished and dehydrated, flies had laid eggs all over her body, and even though everything was done to try to save her life she was so weak that all attempts were futile, she gave up her struggle late last night.
The second joey was most likely involved in a car accident, injuries sustained were too severe and the joey was humanely euthanased.
The third joey is seen here, she was also found alone but in time, she is doing well and once settled into her new life, she will meet other joeys in care and their road back to the wild will be spent together.
She is a Red-Necked wallaby
So why are joeys found alone? It is a question we always ponder when we do not have answers. At times there is little doubt, members of the public call us to hand in the orphaned joey and mention dogs in the area just prior. If mum wallaby or kangaroo was resting and letting her joey either hop out of the pouch, or relax her pouch letting her tiny joey stretch out of the pouch, that joey can be lost by falling out of the pouch when mum jumps up startled by the dog. If the joey was out of the pouch at the time, it may not be able to get back in fast enough, and will be unable to keep up with mum as she flees the area.
Another reason for joeys to be found alone is unfortunately when mum is shot. The two joeys seen here together both were orphaned due to their mums being shot by recreational shooters. Hard to understand how shooting a peaceful kangaroo or wallaby can be recreational, however we are thankful for the joeys being handed in and not meeting the fate of their mums, or being left to fend for themselves, which is certain death.
Please ensure your dog is secure from dusk till dawn when wildlife is most active.
Please remember that all wildlife is protected in NSW. National Parks & Wildlife Act 1974
Images by Katy Stewart, Jeanette Dundas and Renata Phelps
In mid-February our Hotline received a call regarding a juvenile bandicoot that had been brought into the house by the resident’s cat. Since it was at night and thinking the Bandicoot would die they put it outside. The next day the resident noticed that the Bandicoot was moving slightly and decided to call WIRES.
WIRES Northern Rivers asked the caller to take the Bandicoot for urgent medical attention to Vitality Vet clinic at Bangalow as it would need antibiotics as fast as possible.
Unfortunately a wound from a cat is extremely dangerous, even though the wound may be small, infection sets in quickly, the faster you call WIRES for help the faster we can have the animal seen by a vet for urgent antibiotic treatment. In this case it had been left overnight and infection would certainly be a big issue for this juvenile Bandicoot, just 2 months old. The wounds were not small in fact there were significant wounds on the animals head and back leg. We will spare you the pictures of these wounds.
Vitality vet surgery at Bangalow sedated the little fellow, cleaned his wounds and stitched him up; he was given antibiotics, pain killers and taken into care with WIRES carer Merryn. It would be touch and go if he survived.
The next few days were hard for him, he was given pain killers and antibiotic treatment continued, and as they days passed he started to take an interest in life again. Soon he was eating insects supplied for him to eat and after a bit of time he would actually catch them himself when they were put into his little hospital enclosure.
Over the next 2 weeks his wounds healed and he was taken back to Vitality vet clinic to have his stitches out. He received a clean bill of health.
Once his stitches were removed he was able to be placed in an outside enclosure where he could finally start to behave as a Bandicoot should, dig the dirt at night searching for grubs, insects and worms, his strength returned and he is now almost ready for release.
He has been transferred to his release site where he instantly started to build his own tunnels and he has built a resting spot well hidden within the enclosure.
He is already making use of hollow logs, his behaviour shows he is ready for the door to be opened as soon as the weather clears.
Please ensure your cat is safely contained from dusk till dawn when our native mammals are active. Should you find an injured native animal please call our hotline on 66281898 we are operational 24 hours.
Images by Merryn West-Bird
You may remember the little Echidna Puggle from back in October 2015. Kara came into care as a tiny Puggle just 3 weeks old.
Kara is seen here five months later in the company of other puggles in care. Kara has a special friend, they do everything together including exploring the enclosure and lapping special echidna formula. There is still some time till release, but that day gets closer each day.
Images by Leoni Byron-Jackson
Five wallabies two of them seen here on their first day of soft release. Bruiser came into care as a little unfurred joey with lots of bruising sustained when mum was killed by a car back in July 2015.
Now 8 months later he is seen leaving his enclosure for the very first time. He will stay close to his enclosure for a time and venture a bit further each day till finally he will leave permanently once he feels ready to take on the world on his own.
He got the name Bruiser due to the severity of his injuries when he was orphaned, his little body was covered in bruises. He was a fighter and his determination to live combined with his carers dedication saw him through the hard times, his little mates made his time in care joyful and exciting, they will make his release equally exciting as they venture into the wild together.
Bruiser is a Red-Necked wallaby and he is seen here at the front of the image.
Image by Renata Phelps
The Eastern Water Dragon is usually seen in or near water. They are never found without a reliable water source nearby, and will not venture far from the safety of their watery homes.
Cyclone fencing is often used in residential areas between neighbours or for back yard swimming pools. Unfortunately fencing can be an issue for our dragon residents. The Eastern Water Dragon is the largest of the dragon species in Australia, and unfortunately they can become too large to fit through this type of fencing and get stuck.
This Eastern Water Dragon had a very lucky break today when he was spotted hanging in a fence, unable to free himself.
WIRES volunteer Marion came to the rescue and although he had sustained a little bit of bruising from trying to free himself he had not been trapped for too long and was assessed as being able to be released with full mobility.
Eastern Water Dragons feed on a variety of insects, aquatic life, small reptiles and frogs, and is also known to eat fruits and other vegetation.
Compared to other dragons, the Eastern Water Dragon is quite long lived, having a life span of around 20 years in the wild.
Image by Marion Nell
Pademelons live in rainforest and eucalypt forest, often on the edge of the forest hiding in the thicker part and coming out to feed on lush grasses in the cover of darkness.
They breed all year round starting around 17 months of age, having one young. They can move very fast when and when they get frightened they will thump the ground in alarm with their hind feet warning others of impending danger.
Main predators are the fox, dingo, wild dogs, large birds of prey, python snakes and domestic cats and dogs.
These two little Pademelon joeys came into care, one from a car accident where mum was killed, the other was found after mum had been chased by a dog
Both are doing well and will be released together in about 4 months’ time when they are old enough to fend for themselves.
Please stop should you come across an injured animal, if a marsupial please check the pouch for a joey and call WIRES for help.
Please ensure dogs are secure from dusk till dawn when native wildlife is most active.
Images by Rob Garland
A Clunes resident, clearing his shed to prepare for a garage sale, was stopped short by the discovery of a carpet snake, comfortably settled in with her eggs. He called WIRES for help.
Snakes are territorial but they learn to stay out of our way. They know the food, water and shelter in their territory and learn the daily movements of the resident humans. Because that part of the shed was rarely disturbed, the snake believed it was a safe place to nest.
Snakes are protected by law as they play an important role in the environment. Snakes and other reptiles make up a significant proportion of the middle-order predators that keep our natural ecosystems working. Without them the numbers of prey species would increase to unnatural levels and predators that eat snakes would struggle to find food.
The shed owner agreed to place a cardboard box over the nest and work around her. The eggs are expected to hatch soon and the bubs will disperse within 1 to 2 weeks. The owner was pleased with the outcome and sent photos to WIRES with this message:
"Lovely to meet you today. Here are photos of our girl in the shed. Very happy with our decision to leave her be and work around her."
He will monitor the situation and report progress to WIRES, including a final count -- about 20 eggs are anticipated.
A few weeks later John reported back with pictures that the eggs had hatched and 15 little pythons dispersed.
15 empty egg casings left behind
Thank you to John Stewart for sending pictures before and after and for allowing this python to do her job undisturbed
Images by John Stewart
A member of the public was on her daily walk in Ballina, when she noticed a flying-fox hanging from a tree by fishing line and hook. The tree branch was hanging over the middle of North Creek. The juvenile bat was almost touching the water and the tide was rising.
Within 15 minutes Allira, a WIRES volunteer, was on site. The tide had risen enough so that the top of the little Flying Fox’s head was now in the water, and he had to hold it up in order to avoid drowning.
A quick assessment by Allira determined that a boat was needed to get to the drowning Flying Fox. While Allira was considering jumping into the water to rescue the bat, a local fisherman approached in a small tinny. Allira hailed the fisherman. The fisherman, Zane, offered his help and came to the water’s edge to allow her to jump in (with great difficulty and lack of dignity might I add). The little Flying Fox was at the point where he could no longer keep his head above the water. He was wet from top to toe and exhausted from struggling for so long to keep his head above the rising water.
Allira untangled the little Flying Fox, only a few months old, and wrapped him in a blanket and held him close whilst the fisherman brought them safely back to shore.
The little juvenile Flying Fox was cold and exhausted however he is now safe and alive thanks to a combined effort of the lady that spotted him in trouble, called him into WIRES NR hotline and thanks to Zane that helped our volunteer Allira with the difficult rescue.
After hanging from the tree branch for at least 7 hours, this juvenile black flying-fox sustained injury from the fishing line and hook puncture to his wing membrane. The good news is that the young bat’s injuries are minimal and “Zane”as he has been named, is expected to fully recover and heal after some time in care. "Zane" will be released in Ballina when he’s ready to fly again.
Please ensure fishing line and hooks are dispoed of responsibly, many native animals come to grief from discarded line and hooks left in inappropiate places.
Image by Allira Budd
Recently our emergency hotline received 2 separate calls to rescue orphaned kookaburras.
One call was for a juvenile, the other was a chick.
They were brought into care as reuniting them with their respective parents were unfortunately not an option.
The juvenile was kept in an aviary and for the first 2 days the chick was kept in a nesting box confined to a hospital cage within the same aviary.
The chick was quickly named 'Bolshy' as he would snatch food when offered and then make disgruntled chuckling noises when he was full.
The juvenile was named 'Mishy' short for mischievous, she liked poking her beak into everything.
Mishy didn't want to be feed, she had that independent streak from the start.
On the 3rd day 'Bolshy' left the confines of the nesting box so he was placed in the bigger area of the aviary.
He became a little more adventurous each day, making his way from ground level to higher perches in the aviary.
One morning to our volunteer carer’s surprise ‘Bolchy’ was sitting on the highest perch alongside 'Mishy', the only way to this perch was to fly.
This week a very special incident has occurred 'Mishy' the elder kookaburra is actually feeding 'Bolshy'.
'Mishy' picks up the food tenderises it by bashing it on a perch and then flies up to 'Bolshy' all the while chuckling and laughing.
'Mishy' teases 'Bolshy' with the food until she finally gives it to him.
It is a lengthy and noisy process.
These 2 have become inseparable 'Bolshy imitates everything that ‘Mishy’ does.
This will lead to the next stage where 'Mishy' will teach 'Bolshy' how to self feed.
It is so important for species to be buddied up when they are rescued, it makes caring for these critters much easier as thety are less stressed being together with their own kind.
Kookaburras live in family groups with dominant breeding pair that mate for life.
Siblings such as 'Mishy' help their parents to feed and protect the nestlings.
She is practicing to be a helper in the confines of the aviary, an important skill needed to be part of the kookaburra family group.
Both will be released together shortly as they are almost able to fend for themselves.
Should you find a native animal in trouble please call our hotline 66281898 straight away. Each species have special needs. Our volunteers are trained in how to care for native animals ensuring they will have the best possible chance of survival and release back to the wild.
Image by Julie Marsh
Calls alerting us to Platypus in trouble are fairly rare, these animals are secretive and elusive. Breeding occurs in our local area around September, the female will lay 1 or 2 eggs which she incubates against her abdomen for about 2 weeks, she will at this stage be inside a blocked off nest at the end of a long burrow called a breeding burrow. The young Platypus will suckle the mother for 4 -5 months, milk is excreted through the skin on the abdomen.
When juvenile platypus start to emerge from their nursery burrows in February they are inexperienced and inquisitive and can end up in some unusual places. Males in particular may leave the water source in search of another. At this time they are extremely vulnerable and may end up in inappropriate localities such as farm paddocks, suburban swimming pools, or long distance from water.
In the last few days WIRES Northern Rivers have had two calls regarding Platypus found wandering in inappropriate places. If you do find a “lost” platypus, remember that they are wild animals with specialised living requirements, they have no facial expressions so you cannot see their distress, they will be stressed and in shock after being picked up.
Be extremely careful if you have to pick up a Platypus, males have a spur, located on their hind ankles which can cause extreme pain. Never place your hands under the Platypus, use a towel or jumper to lift the platypus into a box or similar and call WIRES straight away.
Juvenile Platypus are smaller than adults, weight will be well under 1 kg. If the juvenile Platypus appears to be active and alert, it should be taken to the nearest creek or river with good vegetation along the bank and released immediately.
This juvenile Platypus was found on the road in Casino yesterday. It was released after being examined by WIRES volunteer Melanie to determine it was a healthy animal.
Images by Shaun-C-Murphy
These two little Ringtail possums came into care on 26 September from Suffolk Park, after their mother had been found dead the previous day.
Kerrie, a Suffolk Park resident, had spent hours searching for the possum joeys after finding mum dead with obvious signs that dependant joeys should have been in the pouch.
They had spent the night cold and alone until Kerrie found them in her garden and called WIRES.
One joey was uninjured, she was named Poppy, but her brother Patchy had been attacked by crows and had suffered head wounds. His skull was badly pecked and bleeding, and his eyes were closed due to scratches and infection.
Patchy was taken to the Byron Bay vet clinic by WIRES volunteer Barbara, where a course of antibiotics were prescribed as well as regular bathing with saline. His eyes recovered after a few days and he became more active. He lost all the fur on the top of his head, but this grew back and as he started to feel better he became a healthy and happy little possum, who loved to climb around his enclosure with his sister at night.
By mid-November Poppy and Patchy were at a stage where they needed more room to develop their climbing skills, and they were moved to a large soft release facility.
They remained in the release facility until late January, by which time they were about 8 months old. During their time in the soft release facility they became secretive and independent and finally the time came to open the release hatch and let them make their way into a large forested area to start their new life.
Many thanks to Kerrie for checking mum possum for signs of joeys, for taking the time to search for them and for calling WIRES. – Without caring people like Kerrie, these two little siblings would not have survived.
Images by Barbara Wilkins
Rat traps are usually set to catch pesky rats causing havoc around the house. Imagine the surprise Sam got when he checked his trap and found this little Green Tree snake instead.
The Green Tree Snake (Dendrelaphis punctulata), is a beautiful non venomous snake. Its colour ranges from green to yellowish-green, brownish-green, black and even blue. Its belly and neck are generally yellow. If threatened, the snake raises itself, revealing splashes of blue between its scales. Known for their whip like tail, which they use to secure themselves to branches, this species has been known to grow up to 2 meters in length. Average length however, is 1 - 1.5 meters
Found predominately in trees or shrubs, this species is mostly active by day where it looks for frogs and small reptiles to eat in trees and on the ground. It can however also be found in gardens, verandas and sometimes even houses.
This particular Green Tree snake may have been hunting when it inadvertently became trapped in the rat trap as seen in the photo.
Sam quickly called WIRES for help and our volunteer snake handler Scott released the snake that fortunately was unharmed.
If traps are set, please ensure you check them regularly, as seen here it is not just rats and mice that can be caught in traps, wildlife can at times also be caught, this snake was lucky, some do not fare as well.
Thank you Sam for being diligent, and for calling WIRES.
Image by Sam
On Friday 29th January around 5.30 pm a storm hit Casino and a number of tree branches in the Flying Fox colony collapsed. WIRES was alerted by Melanie, a WIRES volunteer living close by the colony. At that early stage it was unclear how bad the incident was. WIRES volunteers Kim and Lib were quickly on scene to help Melanie. Once they realised how bad things were a call for more assistance was made and a number of bat rescuers went to assist.
A large eucalypt branch had come to ground in the colony. Many bats were pinned under heavy branches or trapped in the dense foliage. Because of the large amount of storm water flowing through the area, some of those closer to the ground would have drowned.
Injuries were quite horrific in some instances, and it took a large amount of effort cutting up the tree and meticulously searching under all branches to find the Flying Foxes. Dead, injured and orphaned flying foxes were driven back to volunteer Lib’s place, already set up for such an incident.
It was a very late night of triage activities, assessing the injured, hydrating and feeding orphans for many of our volunteers.
On Saturday a team of members went back to Casino and scoured the banks of the river for other fallen trees that might contain injured Flying Foxes. This was a large area and the banks were very steep. A further 10 were located, mostly at one other tree site, where a fallen black bean branch on a very steep piece of bank needed to be sawn up to get to those way down underneath.
The tragic loss totalled 66 dead or severely injured, the severely injured were humanely euthanased, and 44 flying-foxes in care. On Sunday morning 18 were able to be released and 26 were still in care as of that Sunday.
Calls were received from members of the public with a few more injured Flying Foxes that were brought into care.
The branch that came to the ground had a number of nursing mothers with young; these orphans will stay in care for some time and join other orphans already in care. They will be released once old enough to fend for themselves.
WIRES would like to thank the Casino residents that called our hotline after discovering injured Flying Foxes following the storm.
Should you find an injured bat please call our emergency hotline on 66281898 straight away. DO NOT handle the bat.
Some of the Flying-foxes rescued ready for transport
Recovering after emergency treatment at care facility
The lucky ones are released on the Sunday
Peaceful fly out from Casino colony on the Sunday evening
Images by Melanie Barsony
Calls to WIRES for injured wallabies and kangaroos are unfortunately fairly common, if it is a female badly injured an orphaned joey will come into care. It is however not often that an orphaned wallaby joey comes into care as a result of someone deliberately shooting an animal.
This little Red-Necked wallaby joey came into care after a call was received from Caniaba that a wallaby was dying and a live joey was in the pouch.
When the WIRES volunteers arrived on site where the concerned member of the public was keeping watch over the female and her joey, they were told that a shot had been heard as the wallaby fell to the ground. The member of the public had been riding his ride on lawn mower nearby when he heard the shot and saw the animal in trouble.
On examination of the wallaby a bullet wound was discovered which had resulted in the death of the animal just prior to our volunteers arrival.
Her joey was unharmed and is now in care.
It is disturbing to know that someone in Caniaba is deliberately shooting native wildlife, and even more disturbing that it is being done with little regard for human safety.
Image by Jeanette Dundas
This juvenile Magpie was able to fly; unfortunately both legs were tied together by fishing line.
Bits and pieces of fishing line is often seen lying around bins near the beach, on the beach and in back yards , sadly it is the cause of much suffering for our native wildlife such as this juvenile Magpie. The bird is not able to remove the fishing line and as time goes by the line slowly become tight around its legs.
Birds can be very difficult to catch if they are still able to fly, they may be in need of help but fly away when approached.
This Magpie fledgling was lucky; he was caught in a trap constructed by WIRES volunteer Jane.
The trap was designed to blend into the area, and after four days when he was finally caught, the fishing line was removed.
Damage to his legs healed over the following week and finally he was ready to be released.
He was taken back to the same garden where he had been trapped. The rescue basket was opened, he flew up into a tree and within minutes the parent birds arrived.
For this bird a happy ending.
Please discard fishing line responsibly, in the bin, lid closed and help save our wildlife.
Images by Jane Donovan
Abraham -Grey-headed Flying-fox
Three months ago, our first flying-fox pup of the season came into our care. Little Abraham was a premature newborn, weighing only 46 gram; about half the normal birth weight.
Attempting to raise a pup like this is delicate and uncertain in its outcome. Abraham was kept in a humidicrib for the first few weeks and would take less than 1 ml of milk per feed.
He first opened his eyes when he was 11 days old. As the weeks went by, Abraham continued to grow and convince us that he would indeed survive.
Now Abraham is nearly 300 gr, flying, enjoying blossom and fruit and will be released with the other flying-fox orphans.
Images by Lib Ruytenberg
Yet another car accident involving a Red-Necked wallaby where mum was killed, her joey very much alive.
He is just 5 months old, his fur is yet to grow but his spirit is high and even though he sustained bruising in the accident he is a tough little fellow.
Bruises are healing, his fur is showing beneath his skin, he is a survivor and will be released back to the wild in 9 months’ time with other orphans, some already in care and some yet to arrive. Unfortunately we know all too well that this little fellow will not be the last one to be orphaned in 2016.
Please take care on our roads, especially from dusk till dawn when our native wildlife is most active.
Image by Jeanette Dundas
The term “pigeon” is often used to denote the larger and ‘dove’ to denote the smaller, but both are of the same family. The now extinct Dodo, a large flightless bird from Mauritius, was a pigeon!
The White-headed Pigeon is among the wariest and often most secretive of our native pigeons: at any hint of danger it sits silently in dense tree foliage or on forest floor, remaining motionless until suddenly exiting with loud claps of wings to escape.
Living in nomadic pairs or groups of 15 or more, they forage on the ground for seed, grasses and grains and also in the lower storeys of trees wandering from place to place according to the ripening of fruits.
Head and neck are white; lower breast, belly and under sides are grey; with back, wings and tail black/purple-grey sheen. Young are born covered in rust coloured down. The dense soft plumage of the adults contains loosely-set feathers which they can throw, especially the tail feathers, if attacked.
Parents together build the nest in bushes or small trees 3-20 meters above the ground and both incubate 1-2 eggs. Chicks grow rapidly on “pigeons milk” made in the parent’s crop: looking like cream cheese it contains 75% water, 15% protein, 9% fat and 1% minerals. In a successful season 2 or 3 broods may be produced. The young fledge in 21-22 days but stay with their parents and join the flock.
Image by Sharon McGrigor
WIRES Northern Rivers local Hotline never sleeps. Our volunteers are standing by 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, every day of the year, including holidays.
On Christmas Eve last year, a Collared Sparrowhawk chick was rescued. After a short time in care, it was reunited with its parents on New Year's Eve. It is an unusual bird for a WIRES rescue.
Although Collared Sparrowhawks are widely distributed across Australia, they are generally uncommon. Their movements are poorly known but it is believed they are usually resident but may be partly migratory.
Collared Sparrowhawks will live near human settlements and in cleared areas if there are suitable trees and shrubs available for hunting and nesting. They eat introduced birds like House Sparrows and Common Starlings. They may even follow prey into houses when hunting. At other times they sit quietly and are very easily overlooked.
Remember that the Hotline is for all calls to WIRES Northern Rivers. As always, if you see an animal in trouble, call the Hotline. If you have a question or need advice about wildlife, don't hesitate to call the Hotline. Interested in joining WIRES? Call the Hotline.
WIRES Northern Rivers wishes you and our wildlife a safe holiday season. Please be careful on the roads.
Contact WIRES for rescues, advice or inquiries on our 24-hour Hotline - 6628 1898.
Image by Melanie Barsony