Midland Library to host raptor rehabilitator talk


Amanda Payne with an owl.
Amanda Payne with an owl.

MIDLAND Library will be visited by Brigadoon raptor rehabilitator Amanda Payne who will be giving demonstrations of a barn owl to the public on October 4.

Her talk will focus on the adaptations and hunting skills of WA raptors.

Ms Payne and her husband Stuart run the WA Conservation of Raptors from their home in the hills of Brigadoon.

Together they help to rehabilitate between 50-120 raptors a year.

Ms Payne, who has lived in Perth for 26 years after emigrating from Zimbabwe, began working with birds 20 years ago.

Since then she has helped nurture and release thousands back into the wild.

“It started when Stuart and I went to a bird show in Claremont where we were introduced to some birds of prey,” she said.

“Literally about six weeks later we had the qualifications and were rehabilitating our first bird, a boobook owl.”

Ms Payne is currently caring for a one-year-old barn owl called Luna that she hand-raised from an egg but was born blind and unfit to be released into the wild.

Instead, Luna has been travelling to schools and functions with Ms Payne to help spread awareness of the importance of these predators to WA’s diverse ecosystems.

“More than anything I actually do not have to do very much talking,” she said.

“People get so fascinated seeing these majestic birds that they aren’t too worried about learning the more complex theory.

“However, I do talk about the bird I bring with me, how they hear, how they hunt, what they eat.

“The role of these apex predators is to apply nature’s most simple law, survival of the fittest, taking out the weak and sickly of our native populations.

“This means only the healthy prey is reproducing and shaping the next generations, which helps ensure the survivors are strong and can endure environmental hardships and fluctuations.

“Unfortunately thanks to human activities these birds have had to cope with deforestation, utility poles, pesticides or the threat of being shot by some people.

“The use of rodent poison has been especially problematic.

“People don’t realise that when a mouse or rat eats poison raptors who eat them will also be poisoned.”

Ms Payne has also been working to rehabilitate a wedge-tailed eagle that was hit by a car resulting in him being forced to live on the ground for several weeks.

“He was brought to us covered in lice and ticks and extremely malnourished,” she said.

“So far he looks as though he will recover but we still have to bring him inside whenever it gets too cold or wet.”

Ms Payne also works with a small group of rehabilitators in Perth as part of the Raptor Rehabilitation Association of WA.

Together they specialise in the stages of raptor rehabilitation from nursing to retraining the birds to hunt and survive in the wild.

“There are several other groups in the Perth, but a lot of people drop off because of the massive amount of time and effort it takes to nurse these birds back to full health,” Ms Payne said.

“It can be quite heartbreaking to see the number of birds that have to be put down because they cannot fly or survive in the wild.

“If you are interested in rehabilitation, you can become qualified through a two year process.

“You must attend a course with the Department of Parks and Wildlife as well as mentoring from a practicing rehabilitator of the animals you want to work with.”