In New Zealand, we visited the Bird Recovery Center in Whangarei, in the Bay of Islands about 2 hours north of Auckland. It was meant to be a quick stop, but we loved it so stayed for about three hours.
The center is a nonprofit organization that runs off the donations of visitors. If someone sees an injured bird, they bring it to the Bird Recovery Center. Most of the birds are let free once they’ve been nursed back to health, but the ones who are permanently hurt will stay. Sometimes a bird will be let out and fly back and that one will be able to stay too.
The center had a white peacock, giant pigeons, violent hawks, talking tuis, and a one legged kiwi bird.
The tuis will literally have a conversation with you. One would whistle and repeat what you said and I’m pretty sure that he was talking about the Rugby World Cup. The old tui, who had recently died, named himself Woof Woof and was supposed to be shown in the opening of the Cup. Woof Woof apparently was a very big talker and sounded just like Robert, the owner of the center.
To show us the hawks, Robert walked right into the cage, told the hawks that he was going to pick them up, slowly grabbed them by the legs, and picked them up. He showed us that it was really only the legs you had to be scared of because, he said while putting his finger into their beaks, they can, but won’t, bite you.
Robert also has the only live kiwi bird that is open to the public to touch in all of New Zealand. Named Sparky, the bird had lost her leg and therefore ended up at the Recovery Center. The stub of the old leg had rotated back and now works as a counterbalance so that Sparky can hop without falling. To eat, she taps the ground with her beak to wake up the worms, hears where the vibrations are coming from, and grabs the worm. Also, kiwis are nocturnal, but Robert trained Sparky to sleep at night so that people could meet her during the day. We also got to see a just-hatched baby kiwi born less than 24 hours before we got there. They are actually quite big when they are born, but still fuzzy and cute!
We learned a lot from the Bird Recovery Center and are really glad we went there. It made us appreciate birds and their lives a lot more and made us notice how amazing these creatures are.
-Danielle while in Fiji (now in Vanuatu)