Kevin was found on the ground with his dead sibling, having fallen out of its nest high in a palm tree. The MOP who found him took Kevin to Seaforth Vet Hospital where he was examined. Rachel, the head nurse and also a Sydney Wildlife member knew of my love of kookaburras and called me to see if I would like to care for him.
He was described as very young but I was surprised when I saw him, naked, eyes closed and with a huge swollen abdomen which was heavily bruised from the fall. Rachel thought he had probably landed onto his abdomen hence the bruising.
Kevin as I named him, weighed 184g; he was not begging or making any sound which was a concern. He was quickly placed under a heat lamp in an artificial nest within a rescue basket. He lay on his front not moving. He needed fluids and sustenance if he was to survive, so I made up a thin mix of Neocare and Insectivore with Spark ; I managed to gently open his beak and syringed the mix slowly down into his gullet which he seemed to tolerate.
Kevin in the very early days
After consulting my Heather Parsons guide Caring for Australian to Native Birds it said these little unfeathered carnivorous birds required feeding every 20 minutes! I decided to feed him every hour, as opening his beak to syringe food into him too often might harm his beak.
Gradually he became more responsive, moving a little and producing some poop! I was able to acquire the humidicrib the next day which is based at Waratah Park for use with young animals which meant I could ensure the temperature for Kevin was stable at 32c plus it was humidified important with his bare skin.
His eyes remained closed until the fifth day, when I could see his eyes were half open, he seemed settled in the humidicrib resting his head on a folded towel. He continued to tolerate the Neocare mixture well. His abdomen remained swollen; the bruising had become more obvious. I was concerned that the injury to his abdomen could indicate injury to his organs inside so I took him for assessment by the vets at Seaforth Vet Hospital; Libby our wonderful wildlife vet examined him gently and remarked it is amazing he is still alive! She pronounced she could find no damage to his organs in his abdomen and that apart from the bruising; he seemed to be doing well.
Kevin gradually began to grow some pin feathers and his eyes opened fully. His weight had decreased initially but slowly began to increase. I then took small pieces of meat dipped into the Neocare mix and opened his beak to see if he would take the mix from forceps. He quickly got the hang of grabbing the pieces and swallowing them. I then fed him when I saw him awake and interested in food. He slept in between feeds and moved around inside the humidicrib he continued to lay on his stomach, not able to stand on his feet.
After one week his pin feathers increased, he began to beg for food and was much more responsive. I discovered he would open his beak if I made a certain ‘purring’ like sound and he would quickly open his beak for food.
I decided he no longer required the humidicrib all day, I took him outside when warm and sunny for a short while which he seemed to enjoy. He settled into a larger basket with artificial grass and paper towels on the floor of the basket. Kevin was always hungry and first thing he was very loud in his calling for food, once he had had his fill, he would turn around and not accept any more food.
Kevin in his favourite box in a larger basket
He then progressed to a small cage with a box for him to hide in, as a hollow nesting bird, I have found kookaburras like to be able to hide away in something.
At three weeks he was almost fully feathered, standing and looking like a kookaburra, he continued to only eat a certain amount before turning his back to me. His diet consisted of strips of beef, pinky mice and small crickets. His weight was almost doubled and he needed more space to spread his wings. Each day he enjoyed being outside in a larger cage, watching the trees and other birds. Unfortunately no local kookaburras came to visit him, which would have been ideal. I took him to a friend’s place where many local kookaburras visited her garden. Despite him making lots of noise, only one local was interested but didn’t come down to investigate closely.
It was decided he needed to be able to move around in a large cage, which I did not have and he was too young to move into an aviary. Barbara Kite, our wonderful bird carer agreed to take him into care. I last saw him perching in a large cage with his favourite box on the floor for security. I sadly said farewell to Kevin. He has since begun flying and ready to fledge into the big wide world.
Kevin just before he moved into a large aviary