Muttonbirds need our help with voyage

Wires volunteer Claudia Nevell with mutton bird that will be released..  25 April  2016.
Wires volunteer Claudia Nevell with mutton bird that will be released.. 25 April 2016. Trevor Veale

MORE than 20 defenceless mutton birds were rescued by volunteers in Coffs Harbour on Sunday night as the annual “flight of the fledglings” season starts.

It’s time again for the Wedge-tailed Shearwater fledglings - or mutton birds, as they are commonly known - to leave their island burrows for their first migration to the northern hemisphere.

WIRES volunteer Nigel Hiller-Garvey said the birds can often find themselves in trouble when they land on the ground where they are unable to take off.

“Between the full moons in April and May the fledging start to take off on this epic 6000km journey,” he said.

“Thousands make it, but what has become a problem, is when the moon isn’t bright the birds become disoriented with the lights emanating from Coffs Harbour.

“They’re sea birds that take off from water and they’re totally defenceless on land. Unfortunately they’re often sedated by feral cats, foxes, rats, or crushed on roads.”

Mr Hiller-Garvey encouraged residents who spot a bird to take it to drop off-points located at the rear of the Fisherman’s Co-op, Jeffrey Baker Art or the National Parks Office on Marine Drive.

Birds are then attended by WIRES volunteers and released from Muttonbird Island.

Topics:  coffs harbour muttonbird island

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