Avian guardians Scott and Tracey Bowman have offered a helping hand to about 1000 wild birds over the past several months. The couple established Oxford Bird Rescue on a wing and a prayer in 2012 after they discovered there wasn't a place to take injured, abandoned or lost birds in North Canterbury.
The most common species they care for are ducks and garden birds like sparrows, but they've also rescued magpies, hawks, herons and owls. This year they are applying for a permit from the Department of Conservation to allow them to care for native birds.
Birds with serious injuries are usually taken to the South Island Wildlife Hospital at Willowbank near Christchurch. If they survive, the birds are often returned to the Bowman's for recuperation. Daily responsibilities include managing injuries, feeding, changing water and towels, and cleaning cages.
"We try and work on the principle of rescue, rehabilitation and release. Plucky, our spur-winged plover who got very sick two years ago is the only bird we haven't been able to release as he became too familiar with handling, so he's sort of become the shelter mascot," Scott says.