Every now and then at the Esther Honey Foundation we get juvenile birds brought into the clinic which have fallen out of their nests. With all the other animals at the clinic it can be quite a stressful environment for a baby bird, and it can be hard to find the food they need on a regular basis. However, we are lucky to have individuals around the island that will look after various species when the time comes. One such person is Sabine at the Dive Centre who has found the joy in raising juvenile fairy terns.
Just a few days ago we had another juvenile fairy tern dropped off at the clinic which was otherwise looking bright and happy. He had just lost his nest. So, with a quick call down to Sabine at the Dive Centre, his fate was set. Sabine came down that evening and picked him up, along with a chunk of fish. He has since been traveling to and from work with Sabine in a cardboard box with a make shift perch. He happily sits on his perch watching the comings and goings of the various patrons waiting to hear his new mom call out that she’s coming with food. At this point he stares intently at the food coming his way before it is lowered down to his mouth where he gobbles it up.
This is the seventh fairy tern that Sabine, and her partner Sacha, has looked after. Naming this one “Santa” due to the festive season they have named previous fairy terns “Peep”, “Peep II”, “Peepette”, “Fridoline”, “Houdini”, and “Peep III”. Many of these have flown away now although two of them didn’t make it. Fairy terns usually eat fresh fish, so getting the right diet for a juvenile can be time consuming. Much of this effort has been done by Sascha, Sabine’s partner, going out to the reef with a bucket and net for up to two hours at a time catching baby fish. I’ve been told that he also likes the extra company. It is no small effort looking after these animals and we are truly grateful for their diligence, as I’m sure the birds are too.
But it hasn’t been all work. Sabine tells us that they become like part of the family. Even the dog, Patch, got along with the birds. So it’s sad when one is lost. Walking into their shop and looking at “Santa” in his box will bring a smile to anyone’s face. The fluffy mass with his black beady eyes and pointy beak pops his head over the side of the box and watches with amusement. But don’t touch. These baby birds have a very fragile immune system and Sabine does not want to lose another one.
So a big Meitaki Ma’ata goes out to Sabine and Sacha for helping these fairy terns get their wings. It’s a hard job that can be better done when someone is focused on their needs. We truly appreciate your hard work!