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Winds and wildlife

Friday, August 18, 2017

The strong winds across NSW today are creating problems for wildlife and our rescue line is taking many calls.Today there are even reports of a Tawny Frogmouth being blown into the path of a car!

The high winds can bring down trees and nests and separate young and vulnerable chicks and joeys from their parents.

They can also bring exhausted seabirds to our beaches and coastlines.

Parent birds have very strong instincts to protect and feed their young. Wherever possible the best outcome for most birds is to reunite them.

Often young birds will be found on the ground after falling from nests. It is normal for fledgling magpies to fall out of the nest and spend a couple of days on the ground, with parents feeding them whilst they master the tricky art of flying. 

However, the winds may have brought many to the ground far too early, and they may need another couple of weeks to develop to full fledgling stage before they have any chance of flying. You may be able to reunite older chicks (with some feathers) with their parents.

If the nest is too high up to get the chick back in it you can put a post in the ground, and attached a basket to it as a “pretend nest”. Or secure a basket or ox in the tree the chick came from or one nearby. Sometimes a landing perch may be needed for the parents to access the artificial "nest".

If you then move well away from the “nest”, the parents may well come back and start to feed their little one. This is always the best option as it gives the chicks the best start to be a wild bird as being raised by its parents rather than hand reared wherever possible.

If the winds are too strong to attempt this please keep the bird or joey warm, in a well ventilated box, lined with a towel. You can fill a water bottle with warm (not hot) water and wrap in cloth to place in the box. Place the box in a quiet room away from pets and people. Do not handle more than you need to rescue the bird, handling by humans can cause stress and death. Do not attempt to feed. You can call our rescue line for further advice if you would like further advice. When the winds subside you can try to reunite feathered chicks with parents.

It may take some time for the parents to return but if the chick is very young and there is no sign of the parents please call WIRES 1300 094 737. Our lines and our volunteers will be very busy after the storms so please be patient. You can also download our free WIRES wildlife rescue app and report the rescue via email using the app.