Caring For Raptors

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Bourke's picture
Caring For Raptors

Hi all,

During the recent bouts of heat (hear in central South Australia) I have been called to pick up; first an immature Collared Sparrowhawk and just today a Brown Falcon. Both were suffering from heat stress and couldn't fly properly. The sparrowhawk I took in a box into an airconditioned room with some water then fed it up for the next couple of days in an aviary till the weather cooled down and it was strong enough to fly.

The Falcon I have passed onto the local wildlife carer (who was on Christmas holidays when I had the sparrowhawk). Anyway the point of all this rambling is that after picking up the sparrowhawk and being uable to pass it onto a wildlife carer I was having a look around for info on the net. For those of you who, as I did, become inadvertent carers of these birds with such specific requirements here is an excellent resource I found


hopefully the link works, if it doesn't I'm sure it can be copied and pasted.



Windhover's picture

Nicely written and all applicable to wildlife carers who have experience in handling more common and easy to manage species. I would strongly suggest to anybody to ring a local vet (who will most likely know the wildlife rescue groups in the area) or even a zoo to ask for help rather than trying to become an instant carer after reading a pdf that was written for wildlife carers in the first instance. :) :) :)

That would be much more beneficial to the welfare of the animal.

Michelle's picture

Thank you Burke, an excellent resource for beginners and more experienced alike.

I've been looking for something just like this for quiet a while now. Now I have something I can share with others and everyone learns.



Windhover I have seen you put this up on several occassions now and you are absolutely spot on, but I must say speaking from experience if you find say for example a Tawny Frogmouth on the Hwy at 7pm on a Friday night which I have done, it is bloody impossible to get onto these people including vets right through until Monday and do not try and tell me any different.
I even had a case where I was in a Road train not more than 5klms out of town with an injured Owl and I rang the "After hours vet" and they refused to come out and pick it up and insisted I drive into town, in addition they said there was no point in ringing the carer as they were unavailable.
Bourkes information is invaluable because rather than it making us all "Overnight Experts" it may just save a birds life and that my friend is what bird lovers do.
If you detect that I do not sound happy than you are right.
I am sick of the so called experts having a go at people that actually do care and are not in it for a buck like that rotten vet.
We learn first aid so we can initiate immediate care to injured humans, Bourkes info is the same.
Oh yeah I see Bourke had passed on the Falcon to an expert....good on you mate.....and a bigger pat on the back for helping it out in the first place as most people leave them laying on the side of the road I see it nearly everyday.
My message is if you see an injured bird at least stop and pick it up (even if your not an expert) its better than leaving them there for grubs to swerve at and squash like a cane toad.....yes I have seen that to !!!

birdie's picture

Hmmm Feelings running hot there Tassie, but I agree with you. Nobody here is trying to be an instant expert, and this is a big wide open country with not too many vets and carers in some of your routes I would think.
It is the same as stopping to check a Koala a roo or anything else that is injured, sometimes you just have to do what you can.
Windhover, I know you are a trained carer and have the best interests of the bird at heart, but surely there is room for compromise when it means that or death?



Sunshine Coast Queensland

BryanT's picture

Agree with you Tassie.
All we want is try to help the injured animal.
I know about all those experts and organisations, because I am one of the volunteer that have to deal with them all the time.
Lucky for me, there is a Vet near my place that operates 24/7, and they will accept any injured wildlife anytime.



Thank you Birdie and Bryan.
Bryan my hat goes off to you mate and all the other volunteers out there,you guys do a wonderful job.

Windhover's picture


I am glad you have the best interest of the animal in mind otherwise you would not pick one up right? Believe me I do too. I also agree that it's good to care and try and help where and when you can. So that is indeed fabulous. We can agree on that.

However, I am a bit baffled as to why expect people to get the animal from you instead of driving it there if there are no other options? Mind you all I know is that a road train is a big freaking beast of a truck. I am not having a dig; just commenting on what you said. Sure the country is vast and there are many kilometers between stops but why would you expect anyone to drop everything? Vets are busy professionals and will be unlikely to come to pick-up anything from anyone they don't even know. You should spend a week backstage at a vet hospital to get a feel for the chaos that exists. :) Saying the vet is/was/will be into it for the money is ridiculous and generalizing a profession! Do you think all vets are in it for the money? Do you even know what the salary is for a vet who just finished five-years of gruelling study at university? Before you make silly comments like that, do some research and take notes of the facts! Being a vet is not a money-making machine. I bet you earned more than 40k driving a truck, which would have taken you less than five-years to learn to drive? Yes, the AWARD for a new vet in Sydney is 39-44K! There is NO 1 in front.

Remote or non-city locations will most likely have limited volunteers available hence why you would have difficulty getting in touch. So I am not trying to tell you otherwise. Still, asking questions and finding out what, where, and how will get you further than a little manual you read from the internet which reads well, but surely does and will not necessarily answer all your questions. :)

Often I ask people to drive the animal to a vet when I get a call through our volunteer rescue group. Most of the time when I do people don't have an issue; they just need some guidance and am always happy to offer help; if I can't I ask someone else. There are no experts! It's a constant learning being involved with wildlife rescue. I have excellent relationships with my local vets and they will come out at times for serious cases and euthanase or treat large macropods on the spot if they need to. Veterinarians are the ones doing wildlife carers a FAVOR in most instances doing the consulting and a lot of drugs for free or for a very minimal charge to the organization. Volunteers like me get really pissed when we get called to someone's house who lives two blocks (500m) from a vet and are too lazy to get off their backsides to take an injured animal there. But they are not too lazy to walk the same distance to the bottleshop or to buy cigarettes. Of course it's too hard for them and I choose to drive 12km back and forth just so they can sit there and watch TV. Why? I do it because of the animal and know that karma will take care of the rest. But in essence, the lazy butts at least helped the animal in the first place, which ends the whole shamozle on a positive note.

I don't claim to be any expert and you and Bryan have got no idea when you make remarks like that assuming I am talking as one. What I am saying is that getting involved in wildlife rescue and putting theory into practice gets you far further than reading those notes alone. They are great but I'd love to see you refer to them if you are in a hurry and you have an animal that's in real distress. Obviously you guys will be competent enough to handle a bird and examine it as per page three without stressing it out. So mea culpa, I'll just go away and leave you to it.

On the other hand I have done a lot of training and have seen first hand the kinds of people - not implying that either of you are one of these - who have no clue even after they did basic training and get an animal in care. How about a newly TRAINED carer who picked up a Sugar

birdie's picture

So guys, it all comes down to using a bit of common sense in the end as well as listening to sound advice. Tassie, you are in a unique situation, finding wildlife in very often remote locations , and not being able to to deviate through the towns due to vehicle size and restrictions etc. On forums such as this, it is all too easy to read unintended attitude into posts as we all know from previous postings. We are all wildlife lovers or we wouldn't bother with BIBY, so I think we can assume that we all have the best intentions at heart.
Windhover, I have a genuine question for you. if you take an injured bird/animal to a vet for care... [b]who is liable for the cost?[b] As you say, the onus on the vet can come to big $ depending on the treatment. I have always worried that it would end with me if I ever got into that situation , and frankly, that is not something I could afford.

I am fortunate however, to live within close distance (20 minutes drive) of Australia Zoo. The last time I rescued a Lorikeet from a steep drain, I called the wildlife people and was referred to a lady who works at the zoo and I drove it to her home in the suburb where I live. Unfortunately for the Lori concerned, it had Feather & Beak and was euthanased. They were good enough to ring me and let me know the result. From doing this I learned to identify that problem which was good.
But my question remains, and I would be very interested to know the answer.


Sunshine Coast Queensland


hi birdie :)
i'm not getting into the rest of it but any vet will take native animals and you will not be charged - i have taken 3 galahs and the next door neighbour 2 galahs to our local vet - they get you to fill out a small form saying what it animal is, what you think is wrong with it and where you found it so it can be re released there. I was told by the vet that if nothing is medically wrong with it the galahs in this case will be handed off to a carer who then releases them when they are well again - i know at least 2 of my 3 were released done the track as they were individuals that were easy to identify when they turned up again - now who pays for the medical bit i don't know - i wondered if the vets might be paid by the government because some vets (depending on their location) could end up with heaps of native animals and it doesn't seem fair that they have pay for it

Michelle's picture

I agree with you Tassie and I understand where you are coming from. It's all great to say ring your local wildlife carers or vets etc etc. But that is a simplistic view. I live in a very rural area. The wildlife carers are volunteers, wonderful people, but they are not going to drive for 2hrs to collect anything from me. I don't blame them so I sort it myself. In my town, not all the vets have the skills for all the various animals I've had. They are usually quiet up front about it, but one is a pig and won't touch anything that is 'wildlife' (= free).

Not all carers and vets are created equal.

There is now a noticable 'attitude' amongst people who call themselves carers, do their course (and I have done mine - and I will also say that not all courses are created equal either, a 12yold child knows more about animal care than some of the people I have seen 'teaching') and then start to think of themselves as policemen. I ignore such people because I do actually care about the animals, not the petty power kick some of these people are chasing by appointing themselves experts and trying to dictate to others.

It is an unpleasant aspect of human nature that some people will always look for ways to control others. It is counterproductive to encouraging more people to become 'offical carers'.

Thank Goodness there are still enough genuine people around with a 'can do' rather than a 'you can't' attitude.

BryanT's picture

You are right Michelle.
Not all vets are well trained to handle wildlife. And there are plenty of politic and ego in many "experts".

For me, the important thing is most people care.
Some people might be able to spend more time doing all those good things to the animals, some people might not be able to.
So, education is more important than blaming others.
Once I attended a rescue call, the land owner and her son asked me whether I rescue/caught any tigers/lions before. :^( ;^d (tigers/lions here in Australia?????)

It's not about money. I work full-time (unfortunately, much much lesser then what the new vet in Sidney get), but still try to do some volunteer works during my off days and after working hours.

Sorry Windhover, I doesn't mean to offend/disrespect anyone in my comments. Like you said, at least the Lazy Butts called. We all try to do some good to the animals, so it's better to understand and learn from each others experiences (like Michelle said, sometime the 12yo might knows more then us.), not upset or blaming each other.

Peace! :^D



I am truly over the moon that you are glad I have the animals best interests at heart.
I was nearly not going to post again on this topic but I thought it would be rude of me to leave you baffled.
First of all I "DO NOT" expect anyone "To drop everything" and run out to me,I have managed to drop off numerous animals and birds. I am quiet capable of looking after myself and my interests,just for the record I would suggest that you yourself do a bit of research or at least pay attention to what you read.
1. I was not generalizing the Veterinary profession, in fact I know 2 vets here and they are very nice caring people, however,I have said it once and I say it again, the one I spoke to that night was rude,arrogant and in general did not care and that is that.
2. When you do decide to take up a bit of research you will see that you are not allowed to take road trains into city limits and a fair few towns that is why I rang in the first place.
3. No I don't know what the starting salary for a vet is and to be honest I dont care, as you have very clearly pointed out to us all, they are not in it for the money so they should not care either.
4. You state that that "Remote locations have limited resources" I do not class Townsville,Rockhampton,Mackay and Brisbane as remote.....and they do have many carers and vets and you simply cannot get hold of them on weekends including one of our 24 hr vets.
5. I have never stopped learning to drive trucks, the day you do, you are either retired or dead, its that simple.
I would be inclined to "Generalize" that comment across all professions.
6. As for the gruelling study, yes I do know exactly what it is like as I did time at Gatton Agricultural College and Townsville University. As a youth I worked as a volunteer for the Wildlife Foundation in the Australian Capital Territory.
I gave up my career to drive trucks because I have a passion for the industry.
My life time hobby is bird breeding and yes I do know how to pick up and handle injured/stressed birds and I do know how to administer medicines and I have hand raised chicks from my avairies and several baby Joey's as well.
A bit of research on your behalf or a couple of questions might have revealed all that info for you.
7. I dont drink or smoke and I am more than capable of walking more than 500mtrs.....but that was not aimed at me,Was it??
Bryan,Birdie and Michelle thanks for actually reading my post and not reading through it, I have the upmost respect for Volunteers and any Male/Female that has a genuine interest in what they do, I cannot stress that enough !!!
Bottom line Windhover, It does not matter what profession you choose to look at,you will always find a slacker and you will never convince me that its any different.
To all the Newbies that are trying to make a difference by helping our injured fauna, "Good on you", But do try and get the right advice where ever that might come from.
Oh, sorry for the late reply I have been away.


Onya Tassie!

Windhover's picture

I am sure your comments were aimed at me. Why would you even imply the above? I am not a self-appointed policeman or know-it-all. Maybe it comes out that way. It would be ridiculous to type an essay in every post justifying who I am and what I know or do not know.

You'd be quite surprised if you knew me in person.

Fair enough Tassie, a lot of facts can get muddled in between the lines. And no, I was not implying that you are lazy, I simply didn't know about road trains and was using an example from my experience. I also don't want to spend my precious time researching something that frankly does not interest me. However, thank you for pointing it out.

I guess my only question for you now is if you love birds so much why would you keep them in a cage and breed for your own pleasure instead of enjoying them great outdoors? That really has ME baffled.

But at the end of the day if you want to help the animals then that's great. Good on ya for caring. :) My only comment is what you summed up in the last line. TO GET THE RIGHT ADVICE. A lot of people fail to do that.

Sometimes we have paid for vet treatment, but the ones we do deal with are usually generous enough to not charge us directly - and they should not either really. Our WIRES branch has an account with the vets for basic supplies like Lethabarb and other medications.


You have a nice day Windhover....:)

Michelle's picture

Yes, Windhover it does come across that way. If you want to make a lot of generalisations, assumptions and judgements about people and make implications yourself then you can expect people to respond and provide you with the facts. That's the nature of forums.

FYI, I didn't 'imply' anything myself, I think I was pretty clear in what I said. I am generally accused of being quiet straightforward.

If nothing else, at least anyone reading this thread will know that there is information out there for people if they need it.

Coincidentally, over the past couple of weeks I have been caring for a Peregrine Falcon with a broken wing. The info posted was very helpful - particularly the bit about how to get them to let go! Millenium (as we called him - Star Wars fans will get it) has now moved on to the university where he will hopefully rebuild his muscles in preparation for release!

Tassie, you mentioned Townsville - if you are in need of assistance in the general area, pm me (not sure how it works on this forum but I'll figure it out!)and I will help. As I said, I am out of town so you wouldn't have to worry about going through the city.

birdie's picture

Amen Michelle.... and hats off to you girl as I am often considered to be too straightforward as well. :')

As I said before,and you so aptly put it,it is the nature of forums that people will put it out there and give it back.

I would just like to say, that raptors and remote locations aside, people should remember the basic philosophy of this forum . ( As I see it anyway)
This is a forum primarily aimed at ordinary people, who are seeking to attract more birds and find out more about the same birds that frequent their gardens and localities. We have members who at times are very young with little knowledge and others who have a wealth of info to help with. I have learned an awful lot about birds, ID's, habits and many other things too numerous to mention. It has been an enjoyable pastime popping in here and reporting the days finds etc and seeing what others have been up to.

I hate[/b} being lectured at, or getting the feeling that there is an elitist crew who just want to show off their knowledge and abilities to an unsuspecting audience.
BUT..... I [b]adore birds of every type... and love to photograph them or just listen to and observe them. It goes without saying that I would help one wherever I could, as I am sure would all of us.

Lets get back to basics and treat this as an amateur forum, where no one need feel silly about asking anything.

Have a good week everyone :)
and yes Bryan.... peace be with you brother too :) LOL


Sunshine Coast Queensland

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