By Arwen Hann -
From tiny tauhou (silvereyes) and sparrows to tūī and ruru (moreporks) to ducks and kororā (little blue penguins), all kinds of sick and injured wild birds find their way to the caring hands at BirdCare Aotearoa’s rehabilitation centre in Green Bay, Auckland.
There, just like their human counterparts in hospital, each bird is triaged and then treated, and each has a special chart detailing the circumstances of their admission, their condition, treatment plan and medication and food required.
Both native and non-native species are accepted and treated by the team of vets and volunteers who help with day-to-day care. Birds are brought in by members of the public, vets, and staff from organisations like the SPCA, the Department of Conservation, Fish and Game and local councils.
From small beginnings as a cottage hospital, the centre has grown enormously. Since 2019, when internationally experienced wildlife rehabilitator Dr Lynn Miller came on board, it has developed into a professionally run hospital and rehabilitation centre, and in 2021 changed its name to BirdCare Aotearoa to better reflect its work and values.
Fundraising and Development Coordinator Bianka Atlas says the centre takes great pride in its work.
“It’s almost unrecognisable how far we’ve come in terms of clinical practices”, she says. “Having professional vets on staff along with our dedicated volunteers allows us to provide world-class care. And it is wonderful to see birds released back into the wild fully healthy”.
The centre also plays an important role in education, helping people understand the dangers posed to wild birds and how to care for them. Staff run regular sessions for council and DOC staff who might be involved with birds and interested members of the public, and veterinary nursing students from UNITEC do placements. The centre also collects data to help track the causes of bird injuries and sickness, whether that’s an outbreak of botulism, attacks by cats, or window strikes.
In the past few years, BirdCare Aotearoa has seen a growing number of birds brought in for rehabilitation. 2021 was a record year with more than 6700 birds treated, and 2022 already looks on track to surpass that.
Bianka says that’s due, in part, to more people being aware of the centre but also due to changing circumstances.
“More people are aware of what we do now, and perhaps lockdown played a part as more people were at home to see birds in their local environment,” she says. “But it’s also due to things like increased development and climate change which impacts on weather conditions and habitats”.
The increased numbers put pressure on the centre’s finances, and Bianka says regular donations are a lifeline to keep things running.
“We do apply for grants, mainly for equipment - freezers or heat pads for example, but the hard part is funding for operational costs and salaries. We rely heavily on donations - many from members of the public who have rescued and brought birds to us - to keep the centre running”, she says. “We really do appreciate the support we get from our donors. We want to ensure we can continue caring for wild birds who need us, and we need the community’s support to be able to do that.”.How you can help
By choosing to support BirdCare Aotearoa through The Good Registry, you can help to care for sick and injured birds before they are released back to the wild. Even a small amount can help.
- Just $10 can buy fresh fruit for tauhou/silvereyes
- $20 supplies fresh nectar for 4 tūī
- $50 helps support care for one bird for a day
- $100 contributes to care and physiotherapy for 6 injured kererū/New Zealand pigeons
- $200 funds fresh fish for kororā/little blue penguins for one month
- $500 helps fund one week of food for the hospital’s patients
Just set up ayour registry and choose BirdCare Aotearoa as your charity partner. Or you can choose BirdCare Aotearoa from The Good Registry’s 65 charity partners if you have a Good Gift Card to redeem.