Long-time bird carer looking for replacement

Jackie Stevenson says she wants to train someone to take over her role caring for injured birds after 20 years doing this.

After 20 years of caring for some of Christchurch’s most vulnerable, flying residents Jackie Stevenson is ready to spread her own wings.

The 72-year-old Parklands resident says she’s on the lookout for someone who shares her love for birds to take her place nursing them back to health.

Mrs Stevenson gave up her job as a nurse when she realised birds were her true passion.

Since then, her home has been transformed into a bird rescue centre.

However, Mrs Stevenson said the long days and sleepless nights, which came with caring for sick birds had taken their toll.

“Each year I must admit, I think this has to be my last year.”

“I’m getting older and each year’s getting harder. It’s quite physical work.”

Mrs Stevenson said for all of the birds she had managed to save, many died in her care and it had made her job even harder.

She said her decision to seek someone to take over her role had also been made for her husband.

“He hates coming home and seeing me so tired, so I’ve got to think of him too.”

Mrs Stevenson said she estimated that she had cared for about 200 birds last year.

All of her work had been voluntary, with some financial support coming in the form of donations from the public.

Mrs Stevenson received

$100 in petrol vouchers a year from the Department of Conservation and dog and cat biscuits to mash up and feed to the birds from the SPCA and Dogwatch.

She said cats were the main cause of injuries to birds.

But recently the number of injuries caused by vehicles had increased.

Mrs Stevenson said she had treated a number of species of birds.

However, the number of native wood pigeons that had been brought to her with injuries was increasing.

These birds most commonly received their injuries from flying into car windows.

Amongst those also commonly in her care were New Zealand native fantails.

As Mrs Stevenson continued to search for someone to train to take over her role, she said there were a few easy things people could do to make her job easier.

“One of the main things is not picking birds up that don’t need to be picked up.”

“With most birds, even if they can’t fly they can get up trees, they can get out of reach of cats.”

She said it was about “knowing their needs and knowing when to intervene.”

Mrs Stevenson said those who were interested in taking over from her could get in touch directly through the Bird Rescue Centres, part of New Zealand Bird Rescue Charitable

Trust’s website www.birdrescue.org.nz/rescuing-a-bird/