Imped Pacific Baza

As we have discussed before, imping (replacing the damaged section of a raptors feather by grafting in an exact donor replacement) is an incredibly valuable tool when carried out by an experienced vet/carer. To see a good example you can check out our Brahminy Kite post for April 2016 (click here). Sadly, however, it is often perceived as quite a simple technique, something that can be taught even to an inexperienced carer, with the potential of catastrophic results, in this case that would have led to the death of the bird involved.
This gentle Pacific Baza came in with feather damage as a result of motor vehicle trauma.

Over 20 feathers were imped, the bird underwent an extensive anaesthetic, and the carer was advised to just take the Baza straight away and release her back where she was found.
In this case the carer is highly experienced and the bird made her way to the Peter Spitzer free flight aviary to see if there was a way we could rectify the damage created.

Impped feathers not sitting correctly

Imped feathers not sitting correctly

The Baza was unwell, lethargic and unwilling to eat as well as suffering from severe dehydration as a result of her extensive anaesthetic.
Before imping became more standard in Australia, and practices that had been in place for hundreds of years overseas became more routine, often feather damaged raptors were left until a normal moult took place. This meant they stayed in care potentially for 2 or more years, simply waiting for new feathers. Another common practice was to pull the feather out, a painful practice with high potential to cause permanent damage to the feather shaft supports and growth areas below the skin.

Shaft split & you can see unsuitable joining material

Feather shafts split and you can see unsuitable joining material

As you can see from her initial images she had multiple displaced feathers protruding from wrong angles, and in the wrong places. The imping pins used were a material that allowed no feather flex at all, were heavy and too long, feather shafts had been split and masking tape and glue were still stuck to her little body. It was decided to let her rest up for a few days and to see how she went initially. Within two days of the procedure she started to drop feathers – her body knew instinctively they were wrong and began to rapidly drop them. This was incredibly unnatural, and must have put enormous strain on her. The amount of protein/energy required for even a normal moult is enormous.
Over the next two months she continued to drop all the imped feathers, even the few that had been replaced successfully, presumably the weight , type and length of the imping rod were just not compatible with her body.

Vast number of feathers dropped is amazing

Vast number of feathers dropped in one moult is incredible

Tape not removed after initial procedure

Tape not removed after initial procedure

Great care had to be taken with her diet, to which Vetafarm Moulting Aid was added, her newly growing feathers, especially with so many new blood quills, and all attempts were made to keep her as comfortable and “happy” as possible.

ARCC-Mar16-0019-800px

Crooked imped feathers

After four months she now looks like a proper Baza again – and is preparing for release.
The intention of sharing this story is as always, not to be critical but to show that even with the very best of intentions things can go wrong, and as we said previously it is absolutely essential that this procedure is not carried out by an inexperienced person, or taken or taught lightly. It is also so important to say if you make a mistake, as we all do, and not to just send a doomed bird out to a slow death, as would have been our Baza’s fate.

Looking fit & healthy

Looking fit and healthy

Can even puff up itself with its new feathers

Baza can even puff up itself with its new feathers

Let’s hope we can generate funding to satellite track her, and we will see if she is indeed now able to survive and thrive with a far superior chance when released.

Posted in News Tagged , , |

Sea-EagleCam – Update April 2016

Who are we?

Sea-EagleCAM is a research project run by volunteers from BirdLife Australia Southern NSW, with research approvals from Sydney Olympic Park Authority and National Parks & Wildlife.  The project was established  on recommendations following the sudden death of two nesting WBSE in 2004, to monitor environmental impact of breeding in this urban setting.

The research team at Sea-EagleCAM have been observing resident nesting White-bellied Sea-Eagles (WBSE) on the Parramatta River and nearby Newington Nature Reserve since the 1990’s.   In 2008, our first CCTV camera was installed in the reserve to monitor the new resident pair.   Currently we have three HD cameras and broadcast live on ustream all year round.  Mid-way through the 2008 breeding season, the male went missing (presumed dead) and the female (known as “mum”) found a new partner in November (known as “dad”).  Over their seven nesting seasons together, Mum and Dad built three nests and raised an average of one young each year to fledging (first flight). We estimate their age to be approx. 13-14 years.

Losing mum WBSE

Mid-December 2015, we noticed that mum had lost her vocals.  We continued to monitor her through late December and January where she showed some signs of a suspected respiratory illness.  Without examination we were unable to determine what was wrong with her.  Throughout early February she appeared well.  She was observed hunting, eating, completing many round trips to Burns Bay (8km away), however she still appeared to be unable to call.  Mum was last seen on the 21st of February at their river roost location on Parramatta River.   Despite exhaustive searches of the surrounding areas, river banks, reserve etc.  we have not located any remains.

Mum (front) & Dad – Last time on nest together, 10th Feb, 2016

Mum (front) & Dad – Last time on nest together, 10th Feb, 2016

What dad WBSE did next

What does a single male WBSE with prime urban real estate do now?  Does he mourn the loss of his partner?   Perhaps that’s a question for another day.  In the early days after mum went missing, dad’s behaviour didn’t appear to differ from previous “non-nesting” seasons, the exception being his reduced visits to the nesting area.  He spent the majority of his time at the river roost or flying up to Burns Bay and back.  Was he looking for his partner?  As a couple they would often be heard (if not seen) leaving the reserve each morning and returning at night.  On the nights when he did return to the reserve, he did not visit the nests.   He was also noticeably quiet.   Only the occasional short honk when he was being pestered by a currawong.

On the last week of March there was a marked change in behaviour.  Several nest visits, stick rearranging and some overnight visits; roosting directly behind and next to the nest.  He started to call again.  What does one call a half of a duet?  A solo?   Ground observers in the area and at Burns Bay were in daily contact keeping us up to date with dad’s whereabouts.  Excitement was building, would dad find a suitable partner before nesting season?

Dad, just prior to flying to his night roost location, behind the current nest.

Dad, just prior to flying to his night roost location, behind the current nest.

Two WBSE soaring

Then finally one the 5th of April, the news we’d been hoping for.  Lydia (ground obs. at Burns Bay) saw two WBSE soaring together, mid-afternoon.   They were observed flying close together and then separating (early courting).  Another sighting after 5pm that same day.  In between soaring, dad was seen in his “regular” roost spot at Burns Bay, this confirmed he was in the area.

The first sighting, taken near Figtree Bridge/Burns Bay by Lydia/Angelinacat on Tue, 5th April.

The first sighting, taken near Figtree Bridge/Burns Bay by Lydia/Angelinacat on Tue, 5th April.

The very next day in an area we hardly ever see other WBSE, we had a sub-adult WBSE take up residence on one of the disused nests for 6 hours (it also spent the night nearby!).  Additionally there was a first year juvie WBSE hunting at the river and two sub-adults flying along the river.   It seems there are “floaters” (unattached adults and juveniles) about at this time of year, looking for territory or a mate.

Sub-adult flying in to nest 2.

Sub-adult flying in to nest 2.

 

Come and have a look at my real estate

On Thursday the 7th of April Dad and his new “friend” were finally sighted on home territory.

Courtship in full swing. Soaring and mirroring. Photos courtesy of Cathy Cook

Courtship in full swing. Soaring and mirroring. Photos courtesy of Cathy Cook

Friday 8th of April   Soaring and duetting together and roosting on adjacent branches at river roost.   It appeared that dad was ready to take the relationship to the next level.  Maybe she wasn’t ready!   He made several attempts to mount her – perhaps she hasn’t done this before?

Courtesy of Geoff Hutchinson

Courtesy of Geoff Hutchinson

Last Saturday, in the reserve we heard them duet, followed by what appeared to be an “inspection” of both nests by the female (the third nest hasn’t been used since 2011).

First, nest 3 where she moves a couple of sticks

First, nest 3 where she moves a couple of sticks

Then to nest 2, where she also moved some sticks.

Then to nest 2, where she also moved some sticks.

Moving In

By last Sunday, they spent the day at nest 3 (which was used last season).   Time to begin renovations.

We decided to call her Lady (for the time being) Lady checks out the nest camera.

We decided to call her Lady (for the time being) Lady checks out the nest camera.

Dad on left, Lady on right.

Dad on left, Lady on right.

She seems to like nibbling dad – term of endearment?

She seems to like nibbling dad – term of endearment?

Duet.

Duet.

On the 13th of April they were seen locking talons and spiralling over Meadowbank

15th April – Working together to renovate the nest.  Dad seems to bring most of the sticks, but he’s not getting placement his own way.  Several tussles over sticks.

WBSE-13-600px

Mating 15th April.

Mating 15th April.

While we are sad over the loss of mum, we are looking forward with interest to the future.  New couple, new things to learn.  We’ll be watching!

In previous seasons, eggs are laid in late June or early July.

 

Link to our website and cameras.

http://sea-eaglecam.org/video.html

Posted in News Tagged |

Brahminy Kite Follow up

You may remember the Brahminy Kite who has been in care previously. He was very unwell with an infection and also had some damaged feathers.
He continued to improve and finally some donor feathers were sourced and he underwent an imping procedure with an experienced carer at the Casino Vet Clinic.
 

Five broken tail feathers and one primary flight feather were repaired.
 

A couple of days later he was released near where he was found on the banks of the Richmond River, 10km from the coast. He flew out over the river then back to land in a tree above where we were standing. After surveying the area for about 10 minutes, he took to the air and soared and circled before flying off up river.
 

What an amazing joy it was to see him flying strong and free again.
(Thanks to Mel for supplying article & photos)

Preparation of feathers to be imped

Preparation of feathers to be imped

Careful checks that imped feather will match

Careful checks that imped feather will match

First imped feather completed

First imped feather completed

After imping - good as new!

After imping – good as new!

Brahminy Kite ready for release

Brahminy Kite ready for release

Perched high above the river (circled)

Perched high above the river (circled)

Flying wild & free again

Flying wild & free again

Posted in News Tagged , |

Black Shouldered Kite

Black-Shouldered Kite (Elanus axillaris)

These striking, smaller sized kites are mostly white in colour with pale grey back and wings and distinctive black patch on wings between carpals and body. They have deep red eyes and yellow feet. They are similar to the rarer Letter-wing Kite.

Black-shouldered Kites hunt in open woodlands and grasslands, often seen in farmlands with scattered trees or the high vantage point of power poles and wires. They glide and hover while searching for prey  on the ground, such as mice and small lizards.

In care they are highly stressed and should be placed with an experienced carer.

Black-shouldered Kite in care

Black-shouldered Kite in care

 

Black-shouldered Kite on power poles being harassed by a Pied Butcherbird (photo by Shaun C Murphy)

Black-shouldered Kite on power poles being harassed by a Pied Butcherbird (photo by Shaun C Murphy)

Posted in News Tagged |

ARCC Inc recognised by the National Library of Australia

ARCC Inc has received a very significant and exciting opportunity. The National Library of Australia have been in contact with regard to us having been selected to be included in the PANDORA Archive. This is a selective collection of web publications and websites, in essence “PANDORA is a digital archive dedicated to the preservation of and long term access to Australian online electronic publications of national significance”.

The library will be given permission to retain our publications in the Archive and to provide public access to them in perpetuity.
They will re-archive our site/publications periodically to record significant additions and changes. As I say this is a very important achievement for us, and certainly not one to be taken lightly.

Onwards and upwards 🙂

Peg

National Library of Australia

National Library of Australia

Posted in News

ARCC Inc has now a Facebook Page

Hello everyone.

At our last committee meeting we decided to add Facebook to try to increase the public awareness of ARCC Inc.

Our Facebook page can be found at:

https://www.facebook.com/ARCCInc/

If you are on Facebook, please like our page and invite your friends to do likewise 🙂

Again we appreciate your support.

Posted in News

Happy New Year

The ARCC Inc committee would like to wish you a Happy New Year and to thank you for your continued support.

Our first blog post of the year was contributed by Melanie, and it was great to finally to meet her at Peg’s just before Christmas.

White-bellied Sea-eagles (Haliaeetus leucogaster) are Australia’s second largest bird of prey; similar in size to the Wedge-tailed Eagle, but with shorter wings and tail. The adults are very distinctive with white head and under parts and grey back, wings and tail. They are often found on the coast but are also seen far inland, along rivers and lakes.

This sea-eagle was photographed in 50km from the coast at Casino NSW, in the flying fox colony by the Richmond River. The local magpies and currawongs spotted it flying in and pursued it relentlessly. The flying foxes scattered every time it landed close to their roost. Finally the sea-eagle gave up on a potential feed and left, flying east, back the way it came.

Sea Eagle and Magpie

 

Sea Eagle and Flying Foxes

Sea Eagle and Flying Foxes

The second series of photos are of a nesting pair of sea eagles. We were lucky enough to observe a breeding pair of White-bellied Sea-Eagles. The male kept watch on a higher branch while the female fed in the nest.  After some time, the fledged chick arrived, landed below the nest then made its way up. The female continued feeding for a while longer, then left the rest of the food for the chick. After a while, she flew and circled, hunting again. Apparently this pair use the nest every second year. It was an amazing experience to see this magnificent family in the wild.

Sea Eagle nest location

Sea Eagle nest location

 

04-Sea-Eagle-Nesting-Pair

Sea Eagle Nesting Pair

 

Sea eagle returning parent

A circling parent

Posted in News Tagged |

Article & Cover Shot for Southern Highlands Snapshot Magazine

It was very exciting to see Octobers cover of the Southern Highlands Snapshot Magazine featuring one of my photos. Inside there was a great article about ARCC Inc & included several more photos. Thanks to Jen Walker for compiling this article, hopefully it will encourage support for the GPS tracking project.

make sure you grab a copy

make sure you grab a copy

PS – Apologies for the lateness of this post, I thought I had already published it but it was sitting as a draft…

Posted in News Tagged |

2015 AIPP Photography Awards

Our brilliant photographer has done it again! Congratulations Mark on your amazing achievements and spectacular images.
You look pretty spiffy in a suit and tie, I am surprised you don’t have a camo one though! Well done mate – we are so lucky to have you on board.
Peg
2015APPA-Results-poster-800px

Posted in News Tagged , , |

Barn Owl Chick

This little Barn Owl chick is feeling very sore and sorry after being pulled from its nest hollow by an unknown predator and suffering lacerations on its neck. Luckily it was found on the ground by a concerned member of the public and taken to Lismore Central Vet clinic. There it was given an anesthetic, its wounds cleaned and stitched and sub cut fluids administered.

After another 24 hours of fluids, pain medication and antibiotics, it is starting to feel a bit better. Close monitoring of its wounds will continue for at least ten days. When fully healed, an attempt will be made to reunite it with its family.

Barn Owl Chick

Barn Owl Chick

Posted in News Tagged |