Higher Ground Raptors

Higher Ground is a raptor rehabilitation, release and education facility situated in the Southern Highlands of NSW. The not-for-profit, volunteer-based organisation is owned and managed by licensed carer Peggy McDonald.

Peggy, a wildlife carer of over 40 years, strives to realise a long-held dream – to witness and facilitate Australia move towards the forefront of world raptor care and release practices. Peggy is a long-time friend of Vetafarm, and we were very proud to be able to assist her work by installing a CCTV system so the birds in care could be monitored with minimal disturbance. Since then, the CCTV cameras have witnessed many incredible moments that otherwise would not have been seen. Here are three of those stories as described by Peggy.

New friends

“These magnificent raptors never cease to amaze me – there is just so much we don’t understand about them and their habits. I took this image as I was sitting here, straight from the screen – so sorry for the quality. After over 25 years of rehabilitating raptors, I am constantly amazed by these highly intelligent, caring and magnificent birds. Here is a little Australian Hobby roosting last night next to a recently fledged White-bellied Sea Eagle.

In the twilight, I could see the Hobby looking the Sea Eagle up and down several times (which is what you see him doing in this image) when it landed, and then obviously deciding he had a suitable roosting companion.

These birds are in the biggest aviary of its type in the Southern Hemisphere. They do not have to even see each other and have plenty of perches and “secret” places to get in to if they choose!”

Saved by CCTV

“You can never be too careful with raptor (or any bird) housing. I always try to ensure that I have every potential accident spot covered. The free-flight aviary was in its infancy and just starting to be used and was having a smooth run. You can see I had even stuffed a towel over the top of the door in case a bird tried to land on it and got a talon caught. However, I missed one. This just-fledged wedge-tailed eagle somehow decided to fly at where the blue and grey colorbond met, and tightly joined. Somehow, she got her talon and toe caught, had no support and was bleeding profusely while hanging by her toe.

Luckily, thanks to the Vetafarm CCTV, I saw it happen and sprinted the 250m down the back, all the way wondering how I would hold her carefully and lift her toe out at the same time. I managed to wriggle her poor, deeply caught toe out while supporting her and willing her not to struggle or flap and all the while conscious of how much blood there was and how stupid I had been to miss that disaster waiting to happen. Sprinting back up the 250m with Wedgie (adrenaline can be such a great thing), pressure on bleed. Lots of warm, dark and quiet in the wedgie IC unit, fluids administered, and a complete recovery was made!

She was one of the wedgies we recently satellite-tracked, who went on to do great things! Moral of the story – look for potential catastrophes over and over again and think outside the square. Roughly 10% of a bird’s body weight is blood and losing 20%-25% of that volume over a few minutes can be fatal. Unlucky/lucky bird, very lucky carer!”

Sharing is Caring

“I saw this on the Vetafarm CCTV. The mature wedgie had eaten half of a flathead fish that I had put in the free-flight rehabilitation aviary. She then took the other half and placed it (in a crack on the left of the log) in front of the just-fledged Sea Eagle, who promptly ate it!

She walked about 70 metres to do this and it was a very deliberate and gentle action. Sometimes – no, always, I am in such awe of these birds.”

At Vetafarm, we are proud to have been able to provide this CCTV system to Higher Ground Raptors, and glad that it has been able to aid Peggy’s daily monitoring and rehabilitation of so many magnificent birds, with minimal disturbance.

We look forward to witnessing many more heart warming and important stories through the lens of the CCTV cameras!

If you would like to know more about Higher Ground, or the wonderful work that Peggy McDonald is doing, you can visit highergroundraptors.com, and follow them on Facebook @highergroundraptors.