white throated nightjar rescues

Subject: white throated nightjar rescues
From: Alexandra Appleman <>
Date: Tue, 05 May 1998 06:45:31 +1000
White throated nightjars are migrating through the Townsville region again
and once more a few have found their way inside the Queensland Rail
workshops in South Townsville.

The birds were first observed here in 1996 when 11 individuals took up
roost on the rafters of the engineering workshops and seemed (to our
untutored eyes) oblivious to the welding and metal turning activity
associated with the construction and maintenance of rolling stock.  As the
workshop lights attract a myriad of flying insects we assumed that they
were taking advantage of the bounty until one after the other the birds
died of starvation.

In 1997 fewer birds got into the workshops and some were subsequently
caught as they glided down and were released at dusk several kilometres
away from the railyards.

This year up to 6 birds have been seen; 2 have already been released, a
third bird floated down into the concrete slurry, was rescued immediately
and cleaned up.  The bird is resting and will hopefuly be released this
evening at dusk. The birds are kept in a cardboard box until release; if
release is delayed they are offered crushed cockroaches. (Isn't it good to
know that cockroaches are useful for something!)

Whilst I would like to commend the workers of the QRail workshops for
rescuing the birds from certain death I also feel we are missing out on a
lot of data.  Could the vets on birding-aus advise on the legalities and
procedures for taking blood samples from the birds prior to release, and
the possibility of banding nightjars to see if any are habitually attracted
back to the workshops in future years? 


Alex Appleman

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