Kaarakin cockatoo releases and forest red tail juvenile season is in full swing on site this month. Currently in care we have over 200 birds in various stages of rehabilitation. With so many birds admitted to our centre these last few months, it was time for our clinic to train some new volunteers. Training in our clinic is all learnt on site, and anyone can register to volunteer with us via our website www.blackcockatoorecovery.com

Volunteers come from many walks of life and we are happy to accommodate anyone willing to learn! Our most recent volunteers are currently completing their last years of university and volunteering in our clinic allows them practical skills to take with them to a new work place. The clinic is manned 7 days a week, with birds needing round the clock care, a team of at least two is needed each day from 8am until 1pm, with another team starting at 5pm to feed our dependant birds.

Stages of a fully trained Kaarakin volunteer

Stage 1: Husbandry and Biosecurity

The first stage of learning how to care for our clinic birds is following basic quarantine and biosecurity, while attending to the husbandry needs of the birds. These skills allow for appropriate management of birds coming and going from aviaries and prevent disease spread.  

Our new clinic volunteers very quickly picked up on these skills and progressed through to learning how to handle.

Stage 2: Handling, Catching and Crop Feeding

Clinic volunteers are then taught how to safely handle the large cockatoos in a towel, following this skill they are taught how to manoeuvre a bird from a towel into what we call a ‘crop hold’ this method of holding a bird is in preparation for handling while a bird is crop fed essential Neocare formula. They are often fed in this way as both juveniles who can not feed themselves, or adult birds who are recovering from illness.

From learning the skills of crop holding our volunteers are tested with cadaver cockatoos and taught how to crop feed. In the clinic we use stainless steel crop needles from Vetafarm, these allow us to keep the birds in their most wild state, and mean that they can be released quicker, as opposed to syringe feeding which tends to cause imprinting in our juveniles.

As well as learning handling skills clinic volunteers also learn how to convert clinic birds to a pellet diet. Whilst in the clinic aviaries and ready to move up into flight aviaries the birds are converted from a seed mix to a Vetafarm pellet blend. This allows them to maintain top condition!

Stage 3: Physical Examinations and Teaching Others

Clinic volunteers learn basic physical examination techniques and are equipped to monitor birds in care without asking for feedback from staff once they reach the end stages of their training. To enter into senior level of training, they must then demonstrate that they are able to communicate and teach these skills to new volunteers.

Kaarakin volunteers work as a team, and with their help we can release many birds each year back to the wild! It is awesome to know that the skills they learn will be carried with them through life and may help save many more birds in the future.

Want to get involved? Contact Kaarakin Black Cockatoo Rehabilitation Centre for more information.