Today the light was eerie (click here for photos of the sky). I took the camera out to capture the colour of the sky, and wandered onto the jetty without looking. A fluttering sound caught my attention, and I turned to see what I thought was a fledgling Red Wattlebird running up and down the railing, while looking uncertainly down into the dam. If I had gone closer, I think it was going to jump into the water to get away. I realised it could not fly, so I backed off. As soon as I retreated, the bird scuttled along the railing to the point where it could jump onto land, and then ran to a tree. I couldn’t see where it went, so I continued taking photos of the sky, eventually going back inside the house.
About an hour later, the bird was spotted again, this time sitting on a high tree stump – about 3 meters tall. When the bird saw us, it half jumped, half glided to the ground and ran off toward a shrub using a run, jump, flap motion. We realised from the way it was flapping around that it was missing half of one wing.
Our dilemma was whether to try to capture the bird and take it to a Veterinarian or wildlife protection organisation, or whether to leave it alone. While it was clearly vulnerable to attack, it had already made some behavioral adjustments, was able to get off the ground, and as such, was probably able to feed itself. We initially tried to get close to the Wattlebird, but it proved deft at avoiding us. We ended up leaving it alone when it ran toward a large rough-barked tree. Given that it had been able to climb up onto the 3 meter high stump, and had disappeared behind a large rough-barked tree the first time I lost sight of it, we figured that it had found a way of climbing these trees.
We’ll keep looking for this Wattlebird, and hope we see it again. If we do, we’ll reconsider what to do based on its condition. Humane suggestions gratefully received.