Eagle given second chance at life after 'challenging' rescue
FISHERMAN are being urged not to litter after WIRES was fronted with a "challenging" sea-bird rescue in Ballina.
A WIRES volunteer fronted the rescue last week after a group of Ballina fisherman noticed a bird of prey hanging from a high branch entangled in twine and fishing wire and called it in.
The fisherman saw the bird from the small boat they had launched from the Keith Hall Boat Ramp at South Ballina and headed across the Richmond River.
The entangled bird which was hanging with twine and fishing line caught around one foot and wing.
The WIRES volunteer quickly bird was quickly identified as an immature Brahminy Kite, a medium sized raptor also known as a Red-backed Sea Eagle.
A WIRES spokes woman said the rescue was challenging, with the only means of reaching the bird was using the "tinny".
"But luckily, however, the rescue site was directly opposite the boat ramp," the WIRES spokesperson said.
"In order to get the raptor down a long aluminium pole was balanced onto the boat with a fishing-knife taped to the top, along with towels and a rescue cage.
"The rescuers had to act quickly and couldn't afford to make a mistake. One fisherman controlled the rudder to keep the boat as steady as possible and lined up under the hanging bird.
"The second fisherman cut the twine without doing further injury to the bird and the WIRES volunteer used towels to contain the bird and ensure no further injury once it dropped. The rescue was over in a flash and went like clockwork with such fantastic teamwork."
The WIRES spokeswoman said the bird was exhausted and needed professional treatment immediately.
It was rushed to Alstonville Vet Clinic where Vet, Michael Fitzgerald, and Vet nurse, Em, carefully removed the twine and fishing line from the bird's ankle and foot.
Fortunately, the bird still had movement of the foot so it was given hydration, pain relief, antibiotics and after some rest it miraculously began to gain strength.
The next day it was x-rayed and was found to have escaped major injury, although its foot was very sore and swollen.
Wendy Lawrence from Northern Rivers Wildlife Carers took the bird into longer term care, in collaboration with WIRES' raptor specialists.
This Brahminy Kite is frequently sighted along the northern coast of Australia. The adult bird is identified by their beautiful chestnut wings and back with contrasting white head and breast. They feed on fish, small reptiles and insects and have the ability to snatch food from the surface of the water and mid-air and then consume prey while flying.
"Thanks to the fisherman who called WIRES, this beautiful young bird will have a second chance at life and will be released back to the wild once it has fully recovered," the WIRES spokeswoman said.
"Please think of the impact our rubbish has on wildlife. Dispose of broken or leftover fishing line, hooks, lures and nets wisely. Birds such as this Brahminy Kite, together with other birds, platypus, turtles and many more species can easily become entangled when swimming in bodies of water, or foraging on the water's edge."