This is our little story of Lucky the Kotare – by Sara Joyce
How do you nurture a skinny, half-dead, freshly hatched bird that has been tossed out of his nest?
The lone survivor. His siblings scattered dead around him.
Walking along a track in Northland, I heard a plaintive cry. It sounded like a kitten. It was a ‘barely sound’ and I was chatting, so I walked on. When I returned past the same spot I could still hear the distressed noise, and decided to investigate.
The track was edged by a sandy cliff, and in the cliff was a hole with a nest and naked little birds were scattered down the cliff and onto the track. It was a sorry sight. Maybe rats or possums had disturbed the nest. One bird was still alive.
We wrapped him in a t-shirt and took him home.
So, how do you nurture such a vulnerable little creature? How do you do him more good than harm?
A light for heat
A cosy box
A dropper for liquid
And…? Worms?? Surely that’s the classic ‘bird diet’?
What sort of bird was he? Well, he had a rather long beak, especially in comparison to his skinny frame! We guessed he was a Kingfisher. My goodness, he probably eats fish!!
It was rather like having a newborn in the family again. Which, of course, he was! I fed him through the night with live worms from the garden (which was starting to look like an archeological dig!) that he gobbled voraciously. After a while, that beak of his became quite snappy and sharp. A fishing net was made out of Grandma’s net curtains and we fished in the rock pools at low tide. This was a welcome change in the diet and our little bird began to show his beautiful feathers of teal. What a metamorphosis from skin and bone to nature’s beauty.
We had to travel back to Auckland and that was quite a journey. Four hours in car with a bird that needed constant attention. In Whangarei, we stopped at a cafe with our little squawking box and the owners came and fed him morsels.
It was becoming apparent that our little Kotare needed expert attention so, with a heavy heart, we gave him to Sylvia Durant better known as the ‘Bird Lady’. What a wonderful saviour for all our lost and wounded birds. She scooped him up and immediately administered to him whatever food and liquid he needed.
The legacy of ‘our bird’ lives on. We named him Lucky (of course) and each time we spot a Kingfisher we always say “Hi Lucky!”
This is why the Kotare has a very special place in our hearts.
We are sponsors of this year’s NZ Bird of the Year competition. You can vote for your favourite bird when voting opens on October 18, 2021 at www.birdoftheyear.org.nz