In about two weeks the sacred kingfisher chicks had grown feathers and were ready to fly free.
In about two weeks the sacred kingfisher chicks had grown feathers and were ready to fly free.

Care gives kingfisher chicks wings

ON the first day of the year, two sacred kingfisher chicks were given a second chance at life.

The chicks were taken into care by WIRES on January 1 after a goanna attacked their nest.

WIRES carer Sandra Byrne said there had been three chicks in the nest, made in a termite nest high up in a gum tree at Gulmarrad.

“The goanna managed to get one chick before the nest crumbled and fell to the ground,” Mrs Byrne said.

The owner of the Gulmarrad property picked up the other two chicks and called WIRES.

Over the next two weeks Mrs Byrne cared for the birds as if she was their mother.

Her main role was feeding.

At night Mrs Byrne would go out onto her porch where the light was on and collect insects to hand feed the chicks. She also gave them frozen mice and a special chick formula called Insectavore.

By January 17, the birds had grown feathers, learnt to fly and were ready to be released.

The birds returned several times to Mrs Byrne for support feeds over a week, but they’ve since become completely independent and are surviving on their own in the wild.

WIRES Clarence Valley is always looking for new volunteers to become wildlife carers like Mrs Byrne.

It will be conducting a two-day course in Grafton on March 6-7. To register or for more information, call the WIRES rescue hotline on 6643 4055.

Quick facts

  • The sacred kingfisher is usually solitary. They pair up only to breed.
  • Both sexes build nests one to two metres above the ground in arboreal termite mounds, hollow limbs, and sometimes earth banks or even fence posts.
  • In winter Kingfishers migrate to islands north of Australia, returning in spring to breed.
  • Its diet consists of aquatic insects and small animals.
  • The kingfisher’s head and back is green/blue. It has a black band through its eye and a white collar. Females are duller in colour than males.


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