Our Shire is blessed with an incredibly diverse range of wildlife. One of the most magnificent groups of animals to grace this region are the raptors, more commonly known as birds of prey.
Within the Southern Highlands this group includes Eagles, Goshawks, Kestrels, Falcons, Kites, Hawks, Harriers and Owls.
Unfortunately, as humans encroach further into their habitat, accidental – and sometimes deliberate – contact with these birds is becoming more commonplace. Collisions with cars are on the rise and more disturbingly, so too are reports of these graceful birds being shot.
But a new Southern Highlands initiative is now at the forefront of helping to rehabilitate and return injured raptors to the wild.
Since taking its first feathered patient into its new facility late last year, the unofficially titled NSW Raptor Care Centre has helped care and return 15 birds of prey to local bushland.
Modelled on the world-renowned Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital, the giant aviary is able to offer respite for multiple large birds and assist smaller existing facilities.
The circular design of the aviary houses a central cylindrical pavilion that provides the injured birds with both a continuous line of sight and flight path that sets it apart from conventional designs. Having the birds fly uninterrupted maximises their chance of recovery and optimises their fitness levels compared to traditional rectangular aviaries. Its size and success rate have resulted in it being recognised as a national leader in raptor rehabilitation.
In time, the Centre hopes to conduct on-site educational tours for raptor carers throughout Australia and is investigating the possibility of providing web-cam access allowing internet users a rare insight into the private lives of our region’s raptors.
Until then, under the guidance of volunteer raptor carer Peg McDonald, the NSW Raptor Care Centre will continue to care for and return our injured birds of prey to their natural habitat, knowing that they have been given the best chance possible to soar again.
If you find an injured raptor, contact WIRES Wingecarribee on phone 4862 1788 (or 13000 WIRES) or Wildlife Rescue South Coast on mobile 0418 427 214.
Located within dense bushland on private land, the NSW Raptor Care Centre Free Flight Facility was funded via a combination of fundraising, private donations and monies from Council’s Environment Levy.
This article was published in the winter 2014 issue of Wingecarribee Today.