Kiwi hit by car makes rare recovery
A kiwi bird left with serious injuries to her head and spine after being hit by a car in Whakatane, has made a rare recovery.
The adult bird, named Fern, was rushed to Rainbow Springs’ Kiwi Encounter in Rotorua on March 12 after a passing motorist spotted her by the side of the road, unable to walk.
The motorist alerted the Department of Conservation and the Whakatane Kiwi Trust, which sent Fern to Kiwi Encounter for immediate treatment.
Kiwi Encounter husbandry manager Emma Bean says Fern arrived at the hatching facility with blood coming out of her right ear, a graze along her spine, and was unsteady on her feet.
“She was in a bad way. We had her checked by our local kiwi vet who diagnosed her with a head injury and prescribed pain relief, antibiotics and supportive care.
“Remarkably she ate the first night she was here – despite never being in human care before – but it took a week for her to become stable on her feet.”
Staff at the facility administered medication and monitored Fern while providing optimum conditions for recovery for the next two weeks.
Emma says Fern is the first kiwi they have treated for injuries sustained by a car.
“Kiwi don’t usually survive such traumatic events, so for Fern to make it to us alive, and then for us to be able to nurse her back to health, shows she is a real fighter.”
Fern was released back into the wild by the Whakatane Kiwi Trust last week, 100g heavier and in full health.
Emma hopes the incident is a reminder for motorists to take heed of the kiwi logos and signs painted or stationed on the roads.
“This event is a somewhat unfortunate reflection of how well some kiwi projects are doing. As numbers rise, there is more chance of these birds wandering onto the roads nearby.
“The signs and logos are there to warn drivers that kiwi are around, and to slow down, it’s important they take notice.
“Fern is incredibly lucky – most kiwi do not survive a run-in with a car.”
While Rainbow Springs’ Kiwi Encounter is more commonly known for its hatchery work – hatching more than 120 chicks per season to help grow the national population – it also provides crucial supportive care and kiwi rehabilitation for sick and injured kiwi.