Saturday, December 19, 2009

Little Bittern in the hand, sadly

Found a sad rare bird in the hand today. This Australian Little Bittern (Ixobrychus dubius) tangled with barbed wire fencing at a small wetlands near Ingham overnight. Still alive when unhooked, the bird had suffered too much damage. The vet did what I had feared would fall to me. 

Imagine the suffering of any bird or animal caught in such terrible position. It's even sadder when the species is of limited and perhaps declining numbers. Today's was the second Little Bittern I've found barbed in two years. Use of unbarbed top wires would stop many such deaths.

But it's too close to Christmas to end with notes of gloom. So here's a happier pair of birds on wire. First, juvenile Welcome Swallow (Hirundo neoxena) finds Tyto footbridge wire walking and wing stretching harder than simply sitting and waiting to be fed.

Rainbow Bee-eater (Merops ornatus) contents itself with merely looking glorious, in a subdued sunsetty way, as it waits for prey to rise from the western end of Ingham airstrip.


mick said...

Poor Little Bittern! Is there any good reason to use the barbed wire fencing - or just that's what is usually done? The young swallow made me laugh.

Boobook said...

Delightful photos as usual, especially the young bee-eater.

Tyto Tony said...

Hi Mick: Often just the way it has always been done. Barbed wire injuries bring financial penalties for livestock farmers and they still persist with it.

Thanks Boobook.

Denis Wilson said...

Hi Tony
The Owl specialists are really against Barbed Wire too.
I have seen photos of Barn Owls in similar predicaments to your Little Bittern.
Are your Bitterns active at night? Might helkp explain the problem of flying into the fences.
Quite right about the top wire problem, and also the cost to farmers.
Old ideas die hard, even if nonsensical.
"That's the way we always do it."

Tyto Tony said...

Very nocturnal, thus at high risk.

Russell Constable said...

Sorry re your Bittern Tony. I have been in the same situation and it's just a bloody waste. Like you put it that's the way farmers have always done it and barb wire is cheap, too cheap.

Tyto Tony said...

Hi Russell: Just happened to read note that barbed wire is also threat to endangered gliders. Ironic, really, that glider habitat may be fenced (barbed) off to protect it!

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