Sick shags worry our ‘bird lady’
Timaru’s self styled ‘‘bird lady’’ Zena Guthrie has again raised concerns about the welfare of wildlife after a number of shags have been found sick on Caroline Bay.
But the Department of Conservation says it has not had any reports of the sick birds.
However, Guthrie, of South Canterbury Bird Rescue, said she has been contacted by nine members of the public in recent days who have spotted the sick birds either on or near the bay.
Guthrie went to the beach and managed to rescue three of them. Four were dead already and two had to be killed.
‘‘I have three in my care that to be honest, I don’t know if I’m going to be able to save them, Guthrie said.
‘‘I’ll do my best to save these birds but there’s only one of me and a lot of ill birds.
‘‘There may be a good amount of numbers of these birds but this does not mean they deserve to be left to suffer.’’
Guthrie said she thought the birds were starving.
It was not the first time she had received reports of sick shags in the Caroline Bay area.
Young shags were often found wandering, separated from their mothers at certain times of the year, she said.
‘‘Apparently it’s called silly shag season where they get lost or separated from parents but this is different.
‘‘This time it’s different as what I am seeing are birds that are clearly malnourished.’’
The obvious sign was the birds’ breast plates which were sharp to touch when they were malnourished, she said.
Guthrie said she was feeding the birds on fish she could get her hands on.
‘‘I had a lady drop some elephant fish off which had made a difference.’’
Guthrie asked people not to approach the birds or take photos of them if they came across them at beaches in the Timaru area.
‘‘If they are not flying then they are probably sick.
‘‘People shouldn’t normally be able to approach them as they will usually fly away.’’
Guthrie encouraged people to contact SC Bird Rescue.
Zena Guthrie with one of the shags she is taking care of in her garage.