Whitford Rescue Centre
When we purchased our lifestyle block in 2001 I never imagined where it would lead.
From day one we were caring for creatures great and small. The first birds to be cared for were a couple of pukeko chicks that one of our neighbours thought would be a great introduction to New Zealand wild bird life; they were also kind enough to loan us a chook which had taken to caring for them. There were some nail biting moments but we succeeded in raising and releasing the pukekos on our property!
We then progressed to raising goslings, ducklings, sparrows, rabbits and lambs and loving every minute of it. So it made complete sense that when my husband brought home an injured ‘Scaup’, NZ’s only diving duck, from work I needed to know how to do more than keep it warm and offer it food – I wanted to learn how to care for the sick and injured.
With the help of experienced vets and other wildlife rehabilitators I have learnt a great deal over the years. As time went on and people started to hear about the work that I was doing, the bird numbers started to increase and that is when the Whitford Wild Bird Care and Rescue Centre was established as a full time occupation. We are also known as the Whitford Bird Rescue Centre.
As our appreciation for our wild birds grew and my experience developed we became keen to share this with others and so when a school asked to visit the centre we readily agreed and our education side of the centre developed. Last year I had a 150 five and six year olds over a 3 day period, in a programme with the Willowbank Primary school. We arranged a couple of varied activities but the one most enjoyed by the children was the close encounter with some of our rehabilitated birds and the ‘bird identification’ activity where the children had to look for a variety of wild birds on the property. I continue to encourage school groups to visit and I currently have several year 10 students from St Cuthberts (an Auckland Girls School) coming out to help on a Saturday every 3 weeks during the school terms. I also have students who are required to do community service for their Duke of Edinburgh Award and Unitec students studying vet nursing and animal husbandry who are required to do practical work.
The Centre has obviously grown over the years as has my vision for the work that I do, based around three focus areas; rescue and rehabilitation, education, and community support regarding birds. The majority of the birds brought into care are brought in by adults and children that really care about NZ’s bird life. Their compassion for injured and orphaned birds and interest in knowing more about birds and the work that I do is heartening and uplifting and it is my dream to turn our small lifestyle block into a refuge for birds and an information/education centre for young and old alike that are keen to learn about the birds that are rehabilitated.
We are gradually upgrading the facilities and there are small areas of our property that with some effort and resources could be turned into a refuge for the birds and a vantage point for those interested in watching and learning about birds in their natural habitat.
We have a plan in place and stages set up but as with most voluntary organisations finances are an issue and the time to do the work is limited, and therefore the time frame is flexible. With funding to have work done by contractors or to resource volunteers we would be in a position to accelerate our plans and further our vision.