WOODY - Third Chance Kookaburra - B. Clarke

Early in 2005, I came home early one evening to find a kookaburra sitting in a

box in my family room. It was only a young bird, but he was in bad condition.

He was so thin you could literally cut your finger on his sharp keel bone. He

was unable to even hold his head up. So knowing that in the morning I would

probably be on digging detail, still I got out the hospital box and warmed him

up. I also got out the mince mix and warmed that, made it into a slurry, and

started to ’pour’ small amounts down his throat each hour. I didn’t have much

hope this little lad was going to be there in the morning. But I persisted. Each

time he fell asleep his little head knocked on the side of the box and he would

shake himself awake. He sounded like a little woodpecker, hence his name.

In the end, I propped his head up on folded towels so that it would not droop,

and he stayed asleep.

Next morning there he still was. Not bonny by any stretch, but still fighting.

It took me several weeks to get him into a decent enough condition that he

could go outside into the aviary. Over this time it had become apparent that

Woody was a hand raised bird. He had, however, no concept of hunting. So

the hard work began. First I got him into flying condition and used to being

outside, then I started throwing his food. He had catch it if he wanted to eat it

~ he caught it!! From there we went on to live food, easy to catch at first, then

food he needed to get himself. Within three months he was doing so well, we

took the chance and let him out. Such pleasure to see him fly! He came

home for supplement feeding twice a day, then once a day, then every

second day. Such progress from a little bird whom we thought was a goner.

Then the sad day arrived. I looked down our paddock to see something hopping

up it towards our house. At first what I was seeing did not compute, but then I

realised it was Woody. Why was he hopping? I rushed outside to pick him

up, to discover that every flight feather on his left side was missing. There

was no injury, just no feathers. I put him back in the aviary. The next day,

when I went down to feed him, all his flight feathers in his tail and his right

side were lying on the floor. I was so distressed. What had happened to

him? After speaking to a couple of bird carers, the consensus was that his

feathers had fallen out from the point of starvation. Now we had to wait for

them to regrow.

A whole year and a quarter has passed since Woody came hopping home.

Just before Easter this year, he had his third chance at freedom. Supplement

feeding morning and night, then night only, now he comes in when he wants

to or if he sees me in the house. Last week, he brought me a lizard! I was so

thrilled - not so much about the poor old lizard but to know that my boy was

now a genuine article kookaburra! He always lets me know when he is in our

yard by calling me, and when I go outside, he comes down to my feet. There

can be ‘downs’ to being a carer, but then there are the joys like this!

Beverley Clarke