Most people I meet love wildlife. They are fascinated by stories of cute wombat and possum joeys. But as soon as I talk about birds, people are turned off. Birds in care are lovely! Especially our Crimson (my favorite) and Eastern rosellas. Rosellas are native to Australia. They nest in hollows in trees and are found visiting most Australian gardens. They are really delightful birds.
Each year dozens and dozens of baby rosellas come into care. Discovered after storms, ‘fallen’ from nests, attacked by predators or bird napped. Sometimes the birds arrive in care in groups, others arrive individually, however I keep them together, like a flock. This ensures that they live as they would in the wild and learn from each other. Their first stage of development takes place in a ’nest’ or hollow as they would in the wild. They are syringe fed a special formula – I make the syringe ’fly in’ and feed them and then fly off again! Just like making the spoon an airplane when feeding a baby! The rosellas dance when they’ve had enough and I watch their crop (a pre-stomach) fill to make sure they receive enough to eat.
Once the babies have their all of their feathers they move into my aviary. This is when they fledge – develop the wing muscles to help them fly. The aviary is set up with branches and swings that move so the birds learn that things in the wild move and change. They still rely on me during this time for feeding but they begin to explore other food like flowering natives and fruits. Feeding time is not easy! With marsupials I can bond and play with them to help them develop. With birds I have to stay removed to avoid imprinting – there’s minimal human contact and I only enter the aviary to feed the birds. However, avoiding them is not an easy task once they can fly! Feeding time can be chaos!
Once all of the rosellas are flying and eating the natives, I stop syringe feeding them and I withdraw human contact – sneaking into the aviary only to clean and replace branches and natives. This is the pre-release stage! After a couple of weeks observing their weight and consumption of natives the aviary door is opened!! This is a soft release! Native flowers and branches are placed outside the aviary and the birds can come and go as they choose. They have food if necessary, shelter if necessary and the skills they need to survive. Sort of like letting the kids live in a granny flat on the premises for a while! Eventually though, the birds disperse into the wild and join larger flocks.
That’s the plan, that’s the training and the process! However, sometimes despite my best efforts, the ‘kids’ hang around!
It can be a little off having your rosellas watching you through the window!
I was either very entertaining to watch or they just viewed me as a meal ticket! Two fat lazy birds hung around my window, my door and when I walked outside they’d fly down to say hello!
A bird landing on your head might seem cute but their behavior needed to stop! Although the birds were living in the wild, they still viewed me as approachable. Yes I was mum, but birds in the wild don’t stay with their parents – they fly away for a reason! Also it’s unsafe for birds to approach humans – I couldn’t risk the birds flying to, and landing on, anyone else. So every time I went outside for the next couple of days I’d clap my hands loudly. Finally they got the message!
All of the birds in my care were successfully released into the wild – the last two birds just needed a gentle reminder that it was time to go! I occasionally see rosellas in my garden but they fly away if I get too close. I hear them singing in the trees. It’s nice to know that I helped them survive, to find their way and to live their best life in the wild where they belong. ❤️
If you see birds in your garden, enjoy them. Please leave out some fresh water and plant natives to help our beautiful wildlife. Never feed wildlife, especially birds as the wrong food can be dangerous, feeding stations can spread disease and it makes birds think that they can trust and rely on humans!
Remember, in the ACT it’s against the law to have any wildlife in your care for longer than 48 hours unless you are a registered wildlife carer – check with your local area for their laws.
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❤️ Fly free! ❤️