The NZ Juvenile Pied Cormorant - Rapaura
Rapaura the Juvenile NZ Pied Cormorant
Rapaura came to us via Rapaura School. A postman had come across the very young and very weak cormorant while out making mail deliveries and dropped it off to the school, who in turn dropped her to us. This rescue is from quite some time ago, but it's really quite a lovely story.
We had to race off to the supermarket and buy a tonne of fish, the cheapest they had, if the bird and our bank account were going to survive! The juvenile cormorant eats up to 800 grams of fish a day!
Right from the start Rapaura knew we were trying to help her (Her just for the sake of giving the bird a gender). As you can see from the photographs we had to get hold of a pool, make some shelter, find big perches, and have an area Rapaura could grow and have some space to get about.
In the beginning we had to hand feed like a parent bird because Rapaura was weak and exhausted. Then things changed quickly so started tossing fish into the water to get Rapaura to hunt and dive movement, and not become reliant on the human hand for food. She loved the water movement and would get excited by it. When she had eaten her fill, she would then sit upon the pool's edge and dry her wings in the sun. Then came the time she began to flap her wings to get them strong enough to fly. This went on for a long time.
One day we noticed her desire to eat began to lessen, and we knew she was dropping weight to get lighter to fly. Rapaura would sit outside her enclosure on an old piece of machinery and just look about, and drum her wings, until one day she began to get incredibly restless, especially when strong winds came about. By this time Rapaura was looking amazing. She had been with us about 8 weeks. Her wings had become strong and very large. We didn't want Rapaura to fly off from our home, instead we wanted to get her to a place where food was already abundant. We picked a gorgeous day, and a good long range weather forecast for release.
The Vernon Lagoon was our choice of spots, lots of fish and a great deal of tidal areas for fishing on.
The Rapaura school children visited Rapaura during the initial stages, and they brought along some food for her. We showed the children how to get Rapaura to dive to source her food. It was a great day for everyone involved.
Just a couple of weeks after Rapaura, we got a phone call about another little cormorant needing some desperate help. That story is now featured in this blog, a little cormorant called Rarangi.
Posted: Thursday 3 June 2021