For over 30 years Russell and May Evans have housed and bred exotic and native parrots as a hobby, and have lived at 49 Bryson Road, Otatara since 1986, where half their section is in native bush. In 1998 they began caring for an occasional kereru which had been injured and treated by local vets Vetco and required a rehabilitation flight. Kereru have since taken over a large flight and between 20 and 40 birds have now been cared for annually for several years.
Visitors to the property are welcome by appointment, by phoning 03.2130530.
No charge is made, but a small donation to help with the upkeep of aviaries and to feed the birds would be welcome, especially for groups, as people are escorted around the property.
Most injuries are caused by the birds hitting windows – which occurs when the light seems to show a clear space of sky or bush so the bird attempts to fly through. Others are caused by being hit by cars and some by strong winds, causing them to hit branches or young birds to fall from nests.
Other birds rehabilitated as well as kereru are tui, kingfishers, bellbirds and one trust member, Gloria Harris cares for owls. There are no facilities for seabirds and waterfowl.
Department of Conservation Permits are held for the injured birds as well as for the native parrots that are also held on the property. May and Russell are members of WReNNZ and of New Zealand Bird Rescue.
May and Russell have received awards in the past from Environment Southland and the Invercargill City Council for their work with kereru rehabilitation. Kereru are extremely important to the ecosystem of New Zealand as they are the only birds that can distribute the seeds of many large trees, such as Miro, Tawa, Karaka and Taraire, to name a few.
Birds can be in care for a period of 24 hours to several months, depending on the extent of their injuries. Sometimes injuries are not very obvious, even with x-rays and a supposedly ‘unhurt but just shocked’ bird can end up being unable to fly after several months.
Occasionally a bird has to be euthanased because of its injuries and this is always carried out humanely and usually by our vet and trustee, Dr Lisa Stuart, V BSc formerly of Vetco Kennington, and now at VetSouth, Findlay Road, Invercargill.
Bush Haven is now a charitable trust as May and Russell are retired, whereas they previously paid for all food, vet fees and transport themselves. [See Sponsors]
There are now nine trustees – May and Russell, Lisa Stuart, Gloria Harris, Ralph Powlesland – ex DoC Research & Scientific Advisor, Douglas Black, Bruce Maher, David Simpson and Rex Fox. Our patron is Lindsay Hazley, QSM who is well known for his work with Tuatara.