Sick shags worry our ‘bird lady’

The Timaru Herald - - FRONT PAGE - AL WIL­LIAMS

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.

PHOTO: SUP­PLIED

Zena Guthrie with one of the shags she is tak­ing care of in her garage.

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