Care for Abandoned Birds: Waiheke Island

(Emails to our branch via this website email are only cleared intermittently. If you have an emergency particularly involving native fauna; please use our branch contact phone numbers or call the Waiheke SPCA.  See contacts included in this document.  There is no DOC office on the island.)


If you find an injured or abandoned bird on Waiheke Island please contact one of the following people or organisations.


SPCA (Michell Sanders)

372 5222

027 539 5107    

Dr Alexandra Gilmore/Dr Bryan Cartrell (Vets on Waiheke) 

372 8387


Karen Saunders (Native Bird Rescue - Waiheke Island)           

020 4739464


Inga Muller

372 6744


Forest & Bird Members

-  Hue Ross


- Sue Fitchett


021 1410183

372 7600




027 384 7468       

These organisations/people can either collect the bird and take it to a vet or arrange transfer of your bird to specialist bird rescue people or organisations. More general information is also available at

Only people registered by DOC can care for native birds which are orphaned or injured, however you can perform ‘first aid’ care by placing a native bird in a e.g. a covered cardboard box and taking the bird to the SPCA or one of the above vet clinics.  If this is not possible then ring the SPCA or Karen Saunders or the listed Forest & Bird members to help transport the bird to the appropriate clinic or centre.
NB – Keep safe when dealing with birds as they have sharp beaks/claws.

Special Note regarding “Little Blue Penguins”: Sometimes people see ‘feather tattered’ penguins on the beach and think they are injured.  Often they are only moulting.  It is important to leave the penguins alone and not let dogs near them.   If you see an actual wound or bleeding or a penguin is seen over an extended period in an exposed position during the day then first contact one of the above people and describe the situation and location.

Sometimes ‘Little Blue Penguins’ will climb quite a long way from the beach to nest under a person’s house.  During breeding they can be noisy and smelly and the breeding season can last from September to end of December.  If you can live with this situation that would be excellent otherwise for advice contact one of the above people who can then consult with DOC or Auckland Council Biodiversity.  It is illegal to interfere with or harm native wildlife.  “Little Blue Penguins” are a threatened species.

Fledglings Fallen from Nest:  If a fledgling (has some feathers) is found on the ground check first if the nest is near and still intact.  If nest is still intact and the parents still present then using gloves the fledgling can be placed back in the nest.  If the ground environment is safe (away from predators/traffic) the parents will continue to care for the ‘fallen fledgling’.  Observe for a period of time to see the fledgling is safe and being fed.

Emergency Bird Rescue: Care for Orphaned Birds:
If you need to care for a non-native orphaned bird yourself (e.g. in an emergency such as on a yacht or an isolated area where you cannot reach specialist carers), for a period of time, please see below and or link to: Wild Bird Charitable Trust:

The first 3 to 4 days caring for an orphaned bird, usually a fledgling, will be crucial. If it is still alive after 4 days it should survive with care.

Day 1:
In between feeds keep it in a warm, e.g. in a cardboard box in a dark place like a linen cupboard. Do not try to force water down its beak but as hydration important make a small water container available and ensure food given is moist as per below.

Creating a home:
In your small or big cage or box have a perch in one corner – thrushes/blackbirds especially like taking food on perches. If your bird is a thrush or blackbird make sure the box is quite deep. Cover the bottom with old towel and heaps of paper, or a mixture like pine needles or dried grasses etc. Replace the towels, paper and pine needles when they are dirty.
Scatter leaves and twigs in one part of cage for the bird to play with, as it gets older and to scratch around in.
In the first few days you can also fill a hot water bottle and cover that with a towel and more paper towels and put in box with bird. Fledglings can get cold initially so this helps to keep them warm over night.
During the day you can cover the box with shade cloth and at night it's good to put towels over the box. Make sure air can still get through via small holes at the side. At dusk birds seem to get agitated. When this becomes excessive cover the cage with towel. This helps the bird get to sleep and keeps them warm.
Eventually with thrushes and other worm eaters you can place a dirt box of worms in your cage.
Always have a small saucer of clean water in the cage.

Birds need to keep their crop full. If a baby bird’s crop gets too empty it may not survive. Birds will stop opening their beak if their crop is full.
Birds like thrushes or blackbirds need to have 1-2 tablespoons (tbsp) or 4-8 teaspoons (tsp) of following mixture every day. Feed ¾ tsp every 2 hours between 6am and 8pm.
Smaller birds like sparrows will only eat about half this amount in a day. Feed ¼ - ½ tsp every hour for small birds.
Mixture and feeding for blackbird, thrush and other worm eating birds:
If you get fledglings at very early stage - use a basic Bird Rescue mixture to start with

Basic bird rescue mixture:
• 1/2 drop/pinch calcium powder or Bonegrow 
• 1 tsp raw egg yolk 
• 1 tsp of glucose or sugar water;
• 4-6 tsp of Farex (dry human baby food).

If you have to use dropper to feed - the mixture needs to be thin enough to be taken up dropper and squeezed with dropper end right into back of beak like a mother bird would. 
After 24 hrs add 1/4 tsp jellymeat, and gradually more jellymeat - up to 1/2 teas to tablespoon over the above mixture.

When feeding very small fledglings with a dropper, raw egg yolk mixture can get on their beaks. You will need to wipe beak gently with warm damp tissue if this happens, as bird's nostrils are in beak area and the yolk will set hard.

After a couple of days of successful feeding with thinner mixture (using raw yolk) move to mashed hard-boiled yolk in the feed mixture. Initially feed with small dropper and wash dropper after each feed as it gets sticky.

Later move to this mixture:-
Based on making 2 tbsp for the day:
• 2 tsp mince (fine cut - topside is best as mixture needs to be fine like regurgitated worm) alternative possibility is jellymeat alone if don’t have mince available
• 1 pinch Bonegrow
• 1 tsp of jellymeat (cat food)
• 1/2 slice brown bread (can be softened first in a bit of warm/hot water so it will mix in mixture to a nice mushy constituency
• 1/2 yolk of hard-boiled egg mashed up (NO WHITE) 

Use a short piece of straw. Making sure only one end pokes out of your hand - thus equating one beak. Come towards bird with a bit of mixture (about as big as half a fingernail) on end of straw - heading towards just above the beak. It should open its beak wide for you and then you push the straw and mixture right into the beak going almost to back of beak where you can see tongue - bird should close beak then take food and swallow it into crop. You’ll need to wash the inside of straw once a day because mixture gets caught there.
Store mixture over the cool area on top of your fridge so it is not too cold to feed.

Behaviour and Release:
Birds sleep at night. They don't seem to mind a quiet talking to and they get used to the sound of your voice. To help with bonding you can use an Audubon birdcall to indicate when you are going to feed your bird.

Remember a thrush/blackbird can hop quite fast and at the stage of flapping wings it may try to escape the box as it keeps growing.Keep in box as it will make a mess - or a small holed cage.
A thrush/blackbird is not ready for releasing until its tail feathers are as long as your index finger or up to end of second knuckle at least which is about four weeks.

In last couple of weeks before release - you need to start feeding live worms, to worm-eating birds like thrushes/blackbirds. 
Firstly for about a week by your fingers or tweezers. 
At first worms can't be too big or need chopping in half if they are more than 3-5 cm. 

Finally you can get a dirt tray and cover live worms with dirt in it and encourage the bird to start scratching for own food. 
Start hand feeding less. It will protest of course but try to persist. You may need more than one attempt if bird doesn’t start scratching straight away. The bird may come back to the cage at your release site for a feed. You may have to check over the next few days to check that the bird is scratching the ground. 
Mother thrushes and blackbirds tend to just abandon their babies when the tail feathers are long enough and they have started finding and eating worms. You can be a bit more careful if you like to ensure they can fend for themselves.

If people read these guidelines and they wish to comment on them or see omissions or errors or have other tips please send email to our address listed on this website.