24-hour Rescue
6628 1866

Sandy Norris

Aug 072014

A young Rainbow Lorikeet recently rescued from East Ballina showing signs of Beak and Feather Disease.

A young Rainbow Lorikeet recently rescued from East Ballina showing signs of Beak and Feather Disease.

A disease that robs lorikeets of their ability to fly, has again surfaced in our region. Although the disease is not uncommon, the Northern Rivers Wildlife Carers said the sudden increase in lorikeets presenting with Beak and Feather Disease was unexpected and worrying.

Beak and Feather Disease is a virus found in both wild and pet parrots that affects the growth and development of their feathers and beak. The disease although life threatening to parrots doesn’t affect humans.

How the disease will affect a bird varies between species and between individuals depending on their age. It also seems that some parrot species are at a greater risk of contracting the virus, and can develop more severe symptoms.

Typically in the Northern Rivers the most common species affected by Beak and Feather disease are Rainbow and Scaly-breasted Lorikeets. In most cases they are young birds, which still have dark beaks, but are missing tail feathers and the longer flight feathers on their wings. Without those important flight feathers, the birds are unable to fly and are commonly referred to as ‘runners’. Often these birds are brought into care as seemingly ‘tame’ lorikeets or as babies that haven’t yet learnt to fly.

Advice from the Currumbin Wildlife Hospital confirms that there is still no cure for the disease, which is highly contagious and spread via faeces, feather dust, blood and crop contents of infected birds. The virus is so contagious that it can be passed on to young birds whilst still in their nests, with hollows remaining infected for many years. Unfortunately there is also great potential for the virus to spread at communal feeding stations where well-meaning members of the public feed lorikeets.

Interestingly, some birds have shown they can survive the initial infection and regrow their feathers again. Unfortunately, whilst the infected bird recovers it becomes a carrier of the disease and goes on to chronically shed the virus and infect other birds throughout the population.

The Northern Rivers Wildlife Carers is calling for assistance from the community with managing this disease and asks anyone finding a sick or injured lorikeets call the Northern Rivers Wildlife Carers 24 hour rescue hotline 6628 1866 for further advice. People are encouraged to store the rescue hotline number in their mobile phone for easy reference.

For seabirds and marine turtles only ring Australia Seabird Rescue on 6686 2852 and for koalas please ring Friends of the Koala on 6622 1233. Check out our website at www.wildlifecarers.com

 August 7, 2014  Animals, General information
Aug 032014


Once again I have been able to raise lots of little figbirds – and now have a large aviary at our new home in Brunswick Heads, and I can release them into the local population of ‘brunny figgies’.

I have had so many – numbers will be somewhere – but the first little figbird came into my care on the 2nd November 2013 and have had a constant stream of little ones since then. I try to sneak past open windows on waking around 6am before they start calling for food (I have considered crawling past the window – but resisted ) and usually start feeding around 7am every two hours for the rest of the day.

I do manage to have a life as I have a wonderful new neighbour who will feed them for me if I can’t be home for a feeding routine. I have at the time of writing this letter only four left in residence with another one ready for release maybe next week. Release can be a little traumatic as we have a family of noisy miners that are never around until I release one or two little figgies and then they try to chase them away. The figgies are tough and although they might fly over to the river trees – they always come back for feeding for a day or two and brave the noisy miners.

My last three figgies – the cute ones are ‘Two Fat Ladies – from Mummulgum’ – their feathers sit on the perch even when they are standing – and little ‘scrunge’ tiny with the scruffiest feathers and one small wing feather at right angles that appears to be waving at me when he sees me and wants feeding. He will probably be with me for some time I think.

I have enjoyed my figgies and will most likely have a large family of them again at the end of this year. I always look up as I walk under the trees as the figgie calling might just be one of mine. Have a wonderful life little baby birds!

By: Caroline Sutherland

 August 3, 2014  Animals, Caring Tales
Aug 032014

wildlife-rescue-app-on-iphoneStory by: Rowan Wigmore

Have you ever felt helpless not knowing what to do after coming across injured or orphaned native wildlife? All too often help comes too late, with numerous calls made to the wrong organisation, wasting many people’s time and endangering animals’ lives.

Wildlife Rescue App, a free mobile phone application – the first of its kind in Australia – aims to empower people by putting them in direct contact with the nearest rescue organisation in NSW, at the touch of a button. Downloading and using this simple, yet effective App is an easy and direct way to help our native wildlife.

This handy and easy to use app will put members of the public in touch with experienced and licensed carers who will be able to assist with the rescue of the injured animal. The NSW Wildlife Council and its member organisations urge everyone to download this life saving tool today.

Under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, if a motorist hits an animal they are obliged to stop, render assistance or call someone who can help. The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) and the NSW Wildlife Council partnered to develop this App.

The timely launch of the Wildlife Rescue App means there’s now a better chance of saving injured or orphaned wildlife, especially in the days and weeks after a bushfire when animals are displaced and seeking food and shelter.

The Wildlife Rescue App is FREE and available on the Apple Store and the Android Market, or by going directly to the IFAW Wildlife Rescue App website from your phone.

The Wildlife Rescue App has the support of, the NRMA , The New South Wales Roads and Maritime Services Department and National Parks Association.

 August 3, 2014  General information
Jul 302014

Picture by Rowan Wigmore.  An Australian Wood Duck (not the one in the story)

Picture by Rowan Wigmore.
An Australian Wood Duck (not the one in the story)

Published in Wildlife News September 2012
By: Paul Cheeseman

Late one Sunday afternoon, a mother and daughter were returning home to their Coorabell farm. Along the way, on the Caniaba Road, they noticed a wood duck, injured and unmoving. They paused in their journey to gather the bird, wrap it in the daughter’s coat and phone WIRES for help.

WIRES could not find a rescuer and passed the job to Renata on the NRWC Hotline. Renata called me and with her calm approach persuaded me to take on the job. (My first response had been less than positive as I was watching the rugby league.) I met Lynn and Jaime at an arranged location and they handed over the duck. They obviously cared about the duck and I told them what the possible outcomes were. They nodded when I mentioned Keen Street vets as they were the vet they had used for their dairy cows.

Next step was to examine the duck in the safety of my home (in front of the rugby league – volume muted). I am not entirely comfortable with handling animals but I was advantaged in having attended the Introductory Course (presented by Chrisy Clay and organised by Jo Shepherd). There was a significant abrasion on the beak, a swollen left eye, messed-up feathers on the right wing and some abrasions on the legs. The bird could control its head but was not struggling. Could I have done better on the examination? Of course, but each time I do this I gain a little more experience and confidence.

It was now the right time to contact Cheryl, my Area Coordinator. I described the history and injuries to Cheryl and she advised me to keep the bird warm, dark and quiet overnight and to take it to the vet in the morning. Predictably, I had to ring her again a short while later. Should I clean the abrasions? Cheryl advised not, it would be better to allow the duck to rest.

To wrap it all up, I called Renata to advise the outcome. Renata was unavailable so I spoke with her partner who took the details.

What can be garnered from this case? Firstly consider the number of participants, at least 13 persons were involved: Lynn and Jaime, the WIRES operator; Renata and partner, my partner and me, Cheryl, Chrisy, Jo and all of the other helpers at the Introductory course, the Keen St examining vet and receptionist; and of course a carer for the duck.

This clearly shows that wildlife caring is a team exercise and that there is a need for all of the components of good teamwork: communication, respect and courtesy, an appreciation that every member of the team has different capabilities, a willingness to help out and a commitment to improvement.

Secondly, in caring, you get to see the better side of people. Lynn and Jaime delayed their journey to ensure the duck was looked after. Renata and Don took on the tough job of mustering the troops on a weekend. Chrisy and Jo worked hard to present a course to educate new carers. Cheryl is always there when you need her.

Last but not least, the Keen St Vets provide willingly of their time, skills and facilities.
In conclusion, I have been involved for about a year and have done rescues, Currumbin runs, occasional care and sausage sizzles. I don’t know what the future holds but I do know that participating in NWRC has had many rewards:
I have met some very good people (important for me as I am new to the area). I have engaged with wildlife at a far more profound level than I ever have before; and I have had the chance to engage in an educational role with the public.

PS. The Hotline just called and said that Keen St had examined the bird and asked that it be held a few days.

Jul 262014

Tawny - sleep disturbance from the Currawong

Tawny – sleep disturbance from the Currawong

Story & photos by Cheryl
When release day comes round I always have a great feeling of apprehension. Are they ready? Have I done all I can to prepare them for life in the wild? Will they survive out there?

Once they are out though, and you see them flying, hopping or climbing about, it’s a great feeling as they enjoy all their new experiences. We hope that all our hand-raised animals go on to live long lives in the wild but realistically some may not. It’s so rewarding when you see them surviving months or years after release.

With adult animals that have been in care because of sickness or injury it’s even better. You know that they have already been surviving well before the misadventure that brought them into care and they almost leap out of the container to get away from you at release.

Once released hand-raised animals often require support feeding, some for longer than others. I’ve had Tawny Frogmouths that I raised come back for a nightly feed for up to six weeks and other times like last year when they returned only for a week. I do not know why this is so, possible reasons may be food availability, weather or some other factor.

Tawny on tree

Tawny on tree

In early May I had a Tawny come onto my verandah railing several nights in a row. It would fly off when I went out but on the fourth morning it was still sitting there up against the wall. – At the same spot my hand-raised Tawnys would sometimes roost during the day. On dusk I went out with some food and he became very excited and took quite a lot. Obviously he was one that I had released in January.

Perhaps with the onset of cold weather food out there was a bit scarce but he certainly seemed well. He came every night for around two weeks and would roost on a small piece of broken branch on the gum next to our verandah. He was well camouflaged and was only disturbed when a Currawong would go around clearing all the bark from the forks of the tree looking for insects. He then only came the odd night and finally I’m not seeing him at all. What a clever Tawny to remember where to get a free feed!

Laya and her Joey

Laya and her Joey

The swamp wallaby pictured is one of the first I raised and released. She came into care as a joey when her mother was hit and killed by a car. I let her out of the pen in 2008 and she always comes back at the stage her joey is starting to get out of her pouch, she must feel it’s a safe spot.

I feel very pleased seeing her as not only was her life saved but she has produced five very healthy joeys.

Times like these help you forget the sad experiences we all have at times with wildlife caring.

Jul 042014

This winter, the Northern Rivers Wildlife Carers are urging all motorists to keep a look out for roaming echidnas. Winter is their breeding season, and it’s this time of year when they’ll be regularly seen trying to cross roads in search of a mate.

Roads are hazardous for echidnas, with many injured or killed by motor vehicles every year. Pictured here is an echidna rehabilitated by the Northern Rivers Wildlife Carers, after it was hit by a car.

Roads are hazardous for echidnas, with many injured or killed by motor vehicles every year. Pictured here is an echidna rehabilitated by the Northern Rivers Wildlife Carers, after it was hit by a car.

Echidnas are rarely seen any other time of year. They don’t cope well with warmer weather and spend most of spring and summer, sheltering from the heat. The cooler temperatures of winter enable echidnas to be active both day and night.

Roads are their biggest hazard, with many echidnas injured or killed by motor vehicles every year. An echidna’s natural defence is to curl into a ball, presenting only their spines, until whatever is threatening them disappears. On sensing an approaching car they dig into the bitumen and curl up, leaving them very vulnerable.

That was the case for a small echidna that was hit by a car near Newrybar last month. Luckily for the animal, the person who was driving the car stopped and retrieved the injured echidna.

Echidnas can often sustain serious, life-threatening injuries after being hit by a car- yet show no outward sign that they are hurt. Many injuries are only identifiable by x-rays and ultrasounds, so if you suspect that an echidna has been hit by a car it is important that you ring the Northern Rivers Wildlife Carers so it can receive prompt treatment.

Luckily for the rescued echidna, an abrasion to the end of its nose was the only injury it received. After a couple of weeks in care, the echidna was released back where it was found.

The echidna was released back into the wild a few weeks later, near where it was found at Newrybar.

The echidna was released back into the wild a few weeks later, near where it was found at Newrybar.

This winter if you find an injured echidna please call Northern Rivers Wildlife Carers on their 24 hour rescue hotline 6628 1866 for further advice. People are encouraged to store the rescue hotline number in their mobile phone for easy reference.

For seabirds and marine turtles only ring Australia Seabird Rescue on 6686 2852 and for koalas please ring Friends of the Koala on 6622 1233.

 July 4, 2014  Animals, General information
May 052014

A ‘Deadly’ Keelback
(Or how important it is to treat every snake as being highly venomous!)
Story & picture by Rolf

12.45pm, my toasted sandwich lunch was ready to be enjoyed when the location manager at work approached me with the news that there’s a snake in the hallway!

As a keen snake rescuer I immediately dropped everything and checked it out. At a very careful first glance around the corner I was stunned by the beauty of the scene: the pale olive green snake with its head slightly risen and its body in a perfectly waved shape lying on the marine blue carpet in the long hallway… not moving – still like a painting.

“Rolf! Get your bag and catch it immediately!” the location manager whispered impatiently. Oops! Yes of course! I ran to the car keys to grab my snake gear and by the time I was back, gear in hand, the snake had moved into the nearest office with desks, filing cabinets, book shelves and all sorts of stuff on the floor!

Jack*, one of the guys who came to see the spectacle, used to live in remote areas in Arnhem Land and the Kimberleys for years. He has some experience with snakes and is used to them. He tried to approach it for a closer look and it took off. It would have been fairly easy to catch the snake in a corridor but definitely not in a well used office!

Fortunately Jack and the location manager cornered the snake behind two filing cabinets so we could clear the area around it and prevent the snake from finding an even worse (for us) location to hide.

I wasn’t quite sure what kind of snake it was but Jack was sure it was a non-venomous Keelback. His wise words to the people watching during the process of catching the snake were: “Don’t worry, if you get bitten it’s only a Keelback – it won’t hurt much.”

We spent about 10 minutes chasing the poor snake from one side of the filing cabinet to the other and it just didn’t want to go into the secure snake bag that I offered. Of course it got more and more agitated and defensive. It ‘fake-attacked’ the hook that I used to guide it into the bag by striking towards the hook but never touched or tried to bite it. Again I was impressed, this time about the snake’s behaviour – being in an unfamiliar environment, cornered by three huge individuals, chased around this narrow space and all the voices and smells… but it still was not prepared to use its only weapons – it’s fangs.

Finally Jack and I got the snake into the safe bag and relocated it a few hundred meters away from the office where it could hide.

When released it just got out of the bag and again lay still with its head slightly up checking out the environment. That’s when we took this picture that I sent to Cheryl who confirmed what snake it really was – an Eastern Brown! Beautiful, peaceful, soft and deadly.

Luckily no-one got bitten Jack!

(* true story but fake name so he doesn’t get embarrassed!)

Eastern Brown Snake

 May 5, 2014  Caring Tales
May 052014

Story by: Gabriela
Pictures by: Tom

Cheryl called on Saturday afternoon and asked if I wanted to look after eight baby blue-tongues. Paul had picked them up from the vet in Lismore, where a member of the public had dropped off a female blue tongued skink that had been mauled to death by a dog. Apparently the babies had just dropped out of the body.

I decided to give it a go, although I was totally unprepared with no food nor heat lamp at home. Luckily, Marcie offered some insectivore and after a quick trip to Bunnings and the Ballina Pet Store, I had a lamp as well. Sue from Tweed Valley Wildlife Carers offered some very helpful advice on what to feed them and they really enjoyed their first meal of mashed bananas and raw egg mixed with insectivore. Their initial weight was between 9–14gms, not far off their birth weight. Sue suggested to keep them for about a week and then reassess the situation.

Unfortunately, one of the babies died on Monday morning and a closer inspection revealed a puncture wound to its belly. The other babies were all doing ok except for one, it didn’t put on as much weight as the others and looked quite skinny. A few warm hydrating baths and some separate feeding did the trick and it soon was putting on as much weight as the others.

To expose them to natural light the box was put outside during the day. I put old oven racks on top of the box to prevent birds from attacking. One day when Tom went to check on them he noticed a green tree snake wrapped around a chair about two meters from where the box stood on a table. No doubt the snake had smelled the skinks and was hoping for a meal (not sure it would have been able to swallow one as they were getting fat quickly). Well, we were a lot more cautious after that.

It was a delight to watch the babies sleep on the warmed up rocks or crawl over the bark obstacle course that also provided them with shelter. They were very keen to get out of that box and tried cliff hanging and struggling up vertical walls, but to no avail.

After one and a half weeks they weighed between 16-22gms and Sue suggested to release them. As there was no clue to where the mother had been found Cheryl suggested to release them at my place. We have spotted blue and pink tongued lizards on our property before, so it seemed a good place for them. After a last meal to fill their bellies they were released into a thicket of Lantana, which offers good protection from predatory birds. I hope a lot of them will make it into adulthood and I will be checking the release site regularly and hope to catch a glimpse of them.


 May 5, 2014  Caring Tales
May 052014

Story by: Sharon
Pictures by: Sharon & Catriena

I never really thought about plovers much – before this year. They were always just those slightly eccentric birds who insisted on having their nests in totally inappropriate places. Why would they nest on a handful of gravel on the side of the road? Or in the middle of a soccer field? Or a golf fairway? They obviously like to have a clear view of their surroundings, and anything approaching– including any unsuspecting pedestrians. Unfortunately, their nesting habits and the swooping doesn’t endear them to a lot of people, but I’ve found them to be all flap and ack-ack. Thinking back, I can’t remember ever having seen them make actual contact with a person. Unlike magpies!

The first 3 plover chicks I met were 2-3 days old and found in a drainpipe in the rain, in the middle of Lismore, in May. An unseasonal hatching, but I did mention eccentric, didn’t I? Ranging from 19 to 21 grams, they were incredibly cute little balls of spotted fluff on long legs. Being precocial birds, plover chicks are wonderfully independent and, as soon as you give them a pecking lesson, they are able to feed themselves, which makes them very easy to care for. They were very active, and I never saw them asleep, or even lying down. They did, however, like to sit down with their legs stuck out in front and their big feet pointing up – very funny. These lucky guys were named Tom, Fluffy, and Poodle by a 9 year old friend. They grew like weeds over the next weeks, exhibiting remarkably different personalities.

As the first 3 became teenagers they were followed by 2 more tiny chicks from similarly wet circumstances, Artie and Bennie, who were ‘warmed up’ by their initial rescuers in the oven! It was several weeks later that lonely Charlie turned up. He was left behind by his family after valiantly swimming across a small dam. No oven this time though. Charlie surprised me by liking to lie down and ‘sunbathe’ under his light while taking a nap. Davo, Eddie and Freddie came about 10 days later, which made them perfect stable-mates for Charles, who then proceeded to teach them to lie down for naps! They looked like a lovely plover puddle. These were also the only clutch that kept their sleeping area clean of poo. Amazing!

Birds were being successfully released and everyone was moving up the line into a larger tub, cage or aviary. It was a production line! And then an egg was found. Taken to Diana, who warmed it under a lamp, then hatched in an incubator by Catriena, and finally transported by another angel (Kerry-Anne?), I received this chick when she was only one and a half hours old and her eyes were still shut.
Her name is Diana and, not surprisingly, she’s the tamest of them all, having never been around any other birds.

Unfortunately, it was over three weeks later that the last chick, Special K, turned up making the size difference between the chicks too large to put them together. The large ones will just run over the top of the little ones in the small confines of the tub. Now Diana just seems to find little SK very disturbing if I put them together, even though they have both had a mirror to know what other
plovers will look like, so they may stay apart until larger quarters are found. I have also come to believe that, given the chance by being on their own, the chicks will lie down and sleep peacefully.

I have really enjoyed caring for the plovers – all eleven of them. The last ones I released have taken up residence in the paddock and on the driveway and visit us every day. They’re pretty and perky, with endearing head-bobs and peeps. So if a plover chick comes your way be reassured that they’re extraordinarily independent and easy to care for. But they do poo rather a lot.

 May 5, 2014  Caring Tales
Mar 072014
Lorikeets are a noisy, but enjoyable part of North Coast life. Many native trees are currently flowering, providing nectar and pollen for the local lorikeet population.

Lorikeets are a noisy, but enjoyable part of North Coast life. Many native trees are currently flowering, providing nectar and pollen for the local lorikeet population.

The few millimetres of rain we have received in recent weeks, has been enough to encourage many of the Shire’s native trees to flower. These trees are an important source of food for the local lorikeet population, providing them with both nectar and pollen.

This area is home to two species of lorikeet: the Rainbow Lorikeet and the Scaly-Breasted Lorikeet. Rainbow Lorikeets are brightly coloured birds with a brilliant blue head, orange chest and green wings. Scaly-breasted Lorikeets are smaller in size, and are a plain green colour with a yellow scaly pattern on their chest.

Lorikeets are specialist nectar feeders and have a brush-like tongue to collect nectar from a range of native and introduced plants. Depending on the flowering patterns of local trees and shrubs, lorikeets can travel up to 50 kilometres a day to find food. Currently many of the Shire’s Broad-leafed Paperbarks or Melaleuca’s are in flower, attracting lorikeets from all around.

Late in the afternoon when they have finished feeding, they return back to their roost. At night they congregate in designated trees, which are sometimes a great distance from where they spent the day. These roosting trees are easy to identify, when at sunset they become almost covered with hundreds of screeching lorikeets.

The sight of hundreds of lorikeets converging on a roosting tree is spectacular. They fly in, screeching and chattering loudly. After landing they clump together on branches preening one another and then dash around to repeat the performance several times before settling down for the night.

The constant chatter of lorikeets is a familiar sound on the North Coast, making them one of the region’s most recognised native animal. So much are they part and parcel of life here on the North Coast, it’s hard to imagine life without them!

If you find any injured or orphaned wildlife, please call the Northern Rivers Wildlife Carers on 6628 1866. For seabirds and marine turtles only ring Australia Seabird Rescue on 6686 2852 and for koalas please ring Friends of the Koala on 6622 1233.

 March 7, 2014  General information