8 Dec 2017

The Birds of Summer

From Jesse Mulligan, 1–4pm, 1:39 pm on 8 December 2017

While many people are loving the high temperatures, the country's birds are already thirsty and overheated. So how can we help?

By putting out fresh, clean water, says Robert Webb from the Whangarei Native Bird Recovery Centre.

Put the water dish – just fresh water, not sugar water – away from direct sunlight.

"This time of year, if you start mixing sugar or sweeteners into the drink it will evaporate into the sunlight and leave a sugary mess behind. And the bees will get that and that can kill a whole beehive."

As well as plain water, tui love sliced grapes, oranges and bananas, he says.

"If you've got a tree somewhere you know the tuis are coming into, you can put either those little ties around the branch or panel pins on the branch. Hang the fruit on it and the tuis will absolutely love you for it."

Kiwi get extra thirsty in summer, too, so if you know you've got kiwi near your property put a shallow dish out, Robert says.

They also get hungry because the dry ground means worms are in short supply and will take extra risks to find food.

"The kiwi will eat 200 or 200 worms a day. So what they do, they start sneaking near houses and start eating cat food and things."

If you've got a trough on your property, big birds like hawks will drink from it but be careful they don't get stuck, Robert says.

Lay a board down into the water against the side that they can climb up as a plank.

If you see a duck or gull struggling to stand or hold ts head up, it may have botulism from drinking stagnant water, he says.

"If people see birds wobbling around and they can get them to a veterinary clinic or somewhere where they help birds like we do. It's a very easy treatment … You won't catch anything from them. Just by picking them up and getting them to someone that can help that can be remedied in a couple of days and they can be set free again."

The Whangarei Native Bird Recovery Centre has the only kiwi people can see and touch during the day and welcomes visitors, Robert says.

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