Thankfully, one has to have a Department of Conservation (DOC) permit if you want to keep endangered NZ Native birds in captivity, however, there is no law against keeping Australian birds in captivity in New Zealand. Breeding birds for the pet-bird industry, (especially for hand-raised birds), is quite a large business in New Zealand with many tame birds even being exported.

We have ‘rescued’ many birds from the wild, and most of these have been successfully re-established back to their natural habitats, however, some of our birds have suffered severe injuries and cannot be released back to the wild because they simply could no longer fend for themselves.

We do have pet Australian parrots, but, we do not breed for this industry. These birds are our companions, and we like to be able to share them with our visitors as we explain about birds.

So, in what order am I going to start listing the birds we have at Coast to Coast Tours? …(the polite way is; “oldest comes first”!)

‘STEVIE’

Australian Magpie (Female) DOB~1/10/1994
but Labour Weekend marks her “arrival” Birthday date!

Perhaps the poem I wrote about Stevie will best describe her story!

Your life began its usual way; high-up in the tree-tops,
but that breeze did sway!
Then all at once
you hit the ground!
when you came our way.
With out-stretched hands we welcomed you,
(if only for the night)
then hidden beneath your beauty
we discovered impaired sight!
So now…
“How could you fend alone?”
was the question on our minds.
Without any eyes for flying,
Without any eyes for food,
You needed a protective wing to gently caress you.
We try to foster freedom,
We dig up all the grubs,
But wish that we could give you
what you’d truly love.
So – “Whatever’s in the future?”
I SAY THIS BLACK AND WHITE TO YOU;
“Thankyou for your friendship!”
in Magpie-talk so true.

-by Donna Hamilton

As you have probably deduced, Stevie is blind. We found her on our farm after a storm. She was a very young bird and she had a very bad infestation of lice and had literally had scratched her eyes out! (one eye was popped, the other was damaged). Even now, she sometimes has to have antibiotics due to ongoing eye infections, (especially during her moult times). Unfortunately we cannot do an eye-removal operation as the eye structure in a bird is very close to the brain and it is just too risky to do. I’ve often wondered if it’s been cruel keeping her alive, but Stevie is a very happy little chappy, singing and chirping throughout the day. (Our Veterinarians are very amazed by her!). Magpies are extremely intelligent and Stevie is no exception! Actually, it’s only when she walks into something….which (of course should not be there!!!), that one ‘remembers’ that she is in fact blind. She recognises and acts on what we say, (like “up up onto your perch”, or “off now”), without any physical contact from us to prompt her into action. She loves the radio and her favourite singer is Celine Dion. (Ms Dion, if you are reading this, Stevie sings at the top of her lungs when you come on the radio!!) … and, Stevie was named after the singer Stevie Wonder.

Magpies have a bad reputation in NZ for harming our fragile Native fauna. They can also become very territorial (especially during their breeding season), and have been known to inflict injuries to humans! These birds are a very common site on pastures and are numerous throughout NZ. So prolific are they in some regions, that there has to be regular ‘cullings’ to control their numbers. Magpies are carnivorous (meat-eaters) and belong to the Crow family (which also includes Hawks and Owls). Every 12-24 hours they regurgitate a ‘pellet’ of indigestible rubbish. (These are the bones etc from their food; insects, baby birds, skinks etc). They MUST do this, and if they do not, then they get sick.

Here I have been lucky enough to capture this on a video!

As you can appreciate, Stevie relies 100% on us for her food. Over the years it has been a trial and error mission to replicate her diet as much as possible with one that she would get from the wild. [Here, I thank Sylvia Durrant of ‘Bird Care’ for her expert advise.] The base of Stevie’s diet is chicken necks which I mince finely; (the “awful” job!!!). To this I add hard-boiled egg yolk, or cheese, or some other offal; (heart, kidney, liver). Always [and always], I add chopped ostrich feathers (to replicate the fur/feathers from a ‘wild’ diet). Stevie also likes cicadas and other small insects when we can get them. She has to be fed about every 2-4 hours.

Stevie magpie, playing Stevie eating Stevie having a bath

…come & join Stevie on Facebook: (yes! she has her own page!!)

 

 

PLEASE COME AND JOIN STEVIE ON FACEBOOK…there are lots more photos and videos!!!

‘KINGSTON’

Australian King Parrot (Male) DOB 14 Nov 2006

Kingston (with Queenie in background) HELLO !!! Kingston King parrot

Mad antics of these birds in the rain…

‘QUEENIE’

Australian King Parrot (Female) DOB 14 Nov 2006

Our 2 largest birds are King Parrots. These are also from Australia; (mainly the Eastern parts), where they live in the dense forest, e.g the Blue Mountains. Our shearer is a bird breeder and we bought a brother and sister off him at the beginning of 2007. King Parrots have a lovely nature. Although Kingston & Queenie were parent-raised, they did have a lot of human contact and Kingston (especially) is now very friendly, coming onto your hand and shoulder. Kingston talks (although he does not speak in public!). I am not intending to breed these birds, however, if they do – they do!! [Being brother & sister you cannot breed their offspring!]

Queenie (female King Parrot) Queenie waves hello! Queenie King parrot

As you can see; …as a male King matures, it has more red around the head than the female.

Here, Kingston is not fully mature as yet, but these will turn completely red! Kingston's feathers starting to turn red

When Kingston was 2y5m he matured and developed his red head feathers – (this only took 1 month to change!!).

Kingston, male King parrot Kingston, male King parrot

King Parrots require a lot of foliage to chew on. I aim to pick fresh branches (with ‘nibbly’ berries/seeds etc on them) at least 3x a week! They also love apples, carrots, pears, seed, grass-roots, dried berries (e.g.figs), peanuts, sweetcorn, silverbeet…to name but some! (I guess you can see, they are good eaters!)

Kings have beautiful feathers on the underside of their tail – tail feathers of a King parrot

 

BIRD RESCUE

During Spring I usually find some kind of baby bird which needs raising to adulthood. These are normally released back into the wild, unless the bird has a terrible inquiry which prevents it from living a safe life outside.