On a wing and a prayer

CALL ME MUM: Sylvia Durrant plays mum to thousands of birds including this cygnet that lost all its siblings to a pukeko attack.
CALL ME MUM: Sylvia Durrant plays mum to thousands of birds including this cygnet that lost all its siblings to a pukeko attack.

She's a self-confessed digital dinosaur with no email but people across the world still track down North Shore's bird lady for advice.

Sylvia Durrant has rescued birds and nursed them back to feisty health for about 25 years.

Around 4000 birds a year arrive at her Rothesay Bay home - from dazed penguins rescued by policemen from roads at night to baby tui, mistaken for blackbirds, found in gardens.

Even people in Hong Hong, China and England phone her for advice after tracking down her phone number on the internet.

But usually she's taking daily calls from Aucklanders with sick native or introduced birds that are cared for and released back into the wild.

For many years she's been part of the SPCA's Bird Wing but it's been disbanded due to such few groups working in this area.

Mrs Durrant says she's always relied on donations, rather than financial support from SPCA, so it won't impact on her work.

She says it's been good to be associated with SPCA and understands its decision.

SPCA's executive director Bob Kerridge says Mrs Durrant's commitment and experience saving birds is incredible.

He says SPCA will continue to transport injured and sick birds in emergencies to volunteers who care for birds like Ms Durrant.

Donations to help feed and care for birds are vital to 80-year-old Mrs Durrant who has no intention of slowing down.

"An injured penguin consumes $30 of fish per week with a stay in care for a few weeks to several months if it is a baby one.

"A native pigeon is $10 to $15 per week and like the penguin if it is a baby, several months."

But her time and no-nonsense advice is free and given generously

Among her favourite stories is the call she received about what to do about a duck and its ducklings stranded on a roundabout.

"I told him: ‘Tell the police to stop the traffic'. He said: ‘Lady I am the police'. I said: ‘In that case you know what to do'."

Call Sylvia Durrant on 478 8819 if you have a sick or injured bird.

North Shore Times