Feed the birds – but wisely

Gordonton man Bill Smith has been in the news recently – he’s been looking after a number of birds damaged through human ignorance.

Birds with distorted body parts have often been fed damaging diets, he told the Waikato Times.

Mr Smith runs the Avian Wildlife Rehabilitation Trust, and says he has recently been involved with two serious cases.

One, a pukeko which probably had been hand-reared, had deformed and useless wings – known as angel wing syndrome. This is caused by a high level of protein being fed, such as mince and chook pellets. Both are high in protein.

The deformity can be fixed if it is caught early, but Mr Smith’s charge is beyond that stage.

The pukeko will live out its days on a reserve near Raglan.

The other case was in Hamilton. Mr Smith managed to save five ducklings from a clutch of 12 orphans, which had been reared on on bread and milk, stunting their growth.

“People see others feeding ducks bread and milk at the lake and they continue to feed them bread . . . with a decent diet, as they got older, their bills didn’t grow and their bodies became more in proportion.”

A permit is needed to legally possess protected birds and Mr Smith urges people to call a vet if they find one in need of help.

And in June, he was called in to help with an adult tui that was unable to fly. The helpless bird was found in the Hamilton suburb of St Andrews.

They managed to get to the bird before a cat did, and called the SPCA who in turn handed it to Mr Smith.

The tips of the tui’s primary wing feathers had been clipped – a practice common with cage birds to stop them taking flight.

He had never seen anything like it on a wild bird, which was almost a death sentence.

For the full story, click here.

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Number 8 Network - a community website for the rural areas northeast of Hamilton, NZ, is run by Gordonton journalist/editor Annette Taylor.

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