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Volunteer with a Native Bird Rescue!

Dani Stevens on the Wanganui Bird Rescue:

Tucked away in a small farmland plot on the outskirts of Wanganui, is the Wanganui Bird Rescue. This bird rescue, run by Dawne, a highly dedicated bird lover and conservationist relies on donations and the willing help of a few volunteers. Each weekend Massey University students have the opportunity to go out to the Bird Rescue and assist Dawne in her daily tasks for the birds.

My experience at Wanganui Bird Rescue started on a fine morning by being picked up at the early hour of 8 o’ clock. After a drive to Wanganui we arrived at the Bird Rescue. We were greeted by Dawne’s boisterous dog and Dawne herself. We had a quick tour of the cages that housed Tui, Kereru, Ruru and Harrier Hawks, just a few of the current inmates at the sanctuary. Immediately afterwards we got into doing some cage clearing in the kiwi enclosure. The plan was for us to weed a track across the enclosure, in order for us to extend the current area available to the resident Kiwi. We spent the rest of the morning tugging and hacking at the rather long grass in the enclosure and digging holes for posts. We broke for lunch after a satisfying morning of work and went out to the beach to eat our lunch.

After relaxing in the sun, we headed back to the sanctuary to continue working. This time we got to help feeding out to the multitudes of birds. Usually, on a day without volunteers, this task takes Dawne all day. This leaves very little time for her to be able to do cage maintenance, which is why volunteers from Massey are so helpful! Whilst doing this task it is highly important that good hygiene practices are undertaken. This is to ensure both the safety of the volunteers from zoonoses, but also to protect the birds from catching diseases from one another. To the Kereru we fed a mix of vegetables, to the Tuis, Lorikeet mix and to the sea birds, fish. We also got to observe Dawne feeding the kiwi and after she had eaten we got to pet her. Surprisingly, she likes to be scratched under her chin!

Overall it was a great experience and really cool to see such a dedicated volunteer hard at work. Fellow students, please volunteer at Wanganui Bird Rescue, and you too can help Dawne make a difference.

If you too want get up and personal with some of New Zealand’s most in need natives and volunteer at the Wanganui Bird Rescue then the sign ups are outside ICLT Lecture theatre on the Wildlife Club notice board. Groups can attend on Saturdays or Sundays. Alternatively email

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