‘Popeye’, our rescue cockatoo

Cockatoos in our small gum tree watching the birdfeeder

Cockatoos in our small gum tree

Last Saturday was the first decent rain we’d had after a very dry autumn. And it was cold!

Just on dusk we drove into town to go shopping. As we skirted a roundabout to the main street something white caught my eye in the gloom.

A young cockatoo was ‘playing chicken’ on the road, doddling back and forth.

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A young cockatoo was ‘playing chicken’ on the road, doddling back and forth. We doubled back and pulled over a little way from him.

He looked badly roughed up, was confused and kept walking in circles back into the middle of the street.

We always carry ‘a rescue kit’ in the back of our 4WD so we got prepared to do some bird wrangling. No time for gardening gloves – as the cars kept coming around the corner and the cockatoo was startled by the traffic – but we grabbed a bed sheet.

One thing with country towns is that if people see something like ‘trouble’, they’re alert and willing to help. The cockatoo was very close to the corner but the drivers were co-operative.

By this time the ‘cocky’ was doing a Johnny Cash, walking the white line. But at least he was out of the traffic lanes. Thankfully we got to him before anything else happened.

We caught him with the folded sheet, from behind, (always works a treat) and wrapped him for warmth and to pin his wings. He was sodden but still trying to bite through the sheet – but not very vigorously. He was definitely not well or he would have put up more of a struggle.

I hooded him with a calico shopping bag (so he couldn’t bite me) and we drove him home to assess him in the dry. All the way he was intermittently clicking and moving his head but otherwise calm in the darkness of the hood.

Sulphur crested cockatoos sitting in a wattle tree, Yass Valley 2011

Sulphur crested cockatoos, Yass Valley 2011

I’ve never held such a big bird before (though he wasn’t full sized). He was slightly smaller than a chicken, I guess. I’ve nursed a kookaburra (another car accident) but that was about the size of a large pigeon.

And the ‘cocky’ didn’t smell as bad as a chook, especially given he was waterlogged, though he did have a slight wet feather smell. And it surprised me how warm he was – even through the four times thickness of the sheet.

When we got home we thought ‘cocky’ just needed to dry off away from the traffic so we let him go, near the house. (We don’t have dogs.)

He tried to fly but didn’t get far and that’s when I noticed he had some flight feathers missing on his left wing. He climbed the wire fence on the drive quite agilely though and perched 6 foot up a ti-tree. He seemed happy there but I thought better of letting him go as he might be unable to fly. And next door does have dogs that he would be vulnerable to.

So after the false start, we put him in a tall removalist box with air holes, in the garage. It was up off the cold cement on an old lounge.

And rang Wildcare*.

Cockatoos close up, 2011

Cockatoos, Yass Valley 2011

The on-call volunteer advised us to put a piece of wood in the box for him to perch on and we would take him to the local small animals volunteer in the morning.

We settled him for the night. And named him ‘Popeye’.

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I will give updates on Popeye’s progress in coming posts.

* Contact Wildcare Queanbeyan on 6299 1966 (24/7 helpline)

for injured, sick or orphaned native animals

in the NSW region surrounding the north and east of the ACT.

See map of Wildcare’s coverage area at http://www.wildcare.com.au/images_global/map.jpg

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