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Meet Leisa: the incredible woman at the wheel of our cockatoo ambulance!

Meet Leisa: the incredible woman at the wheel of our cockatoo ambulance!

Courage, kindness and a passion is what it takes to rescue injured and sick black cockatoos around Perth. 

Meet Leisa, she just celebrated her 60th birthday and she is one of our volunteers rescuing black cockatoos. Leisa started volunteering at Kaarakin in 2017 and initially joined the cockatoo feeding crews two mornings a week. Although not a fan of having birds in cages, Leisa chose to volunteer at Kaarakin as she believes helping cockatoos return to the wild is a cause she can support.

Leisa has a passion for birds and black cockatoos. She occasionally has Friday fish and chips with a friend or family in a local park so she can see the birds coming into the park in the evening to roost. She also enjoys the local Carnaby’s and Red Tail cockatoos in her local area.

“I’ve always loved the cockatoos because they remind me of a group of women chatting when they are flying. They have such big personalities and my favourite of course is Fluff Bum because he smooches and he is affectionate but also cheeky!” 

Leisa’s friends all share her passion for the black cockatoos. They often tell each other where they spotted some black cockatoos. “My friends are getting pretty good at telling them apart now too! My neighbours are much the same and love the cockatoos. Always someone saying 50 plus Carnaby’s flying between Miller Crossing and the Oval or Red Tails in my neighbours yard!” You can really tell Leisa loves cockatoos! “I regularly check on our cockies in their various spots in my neigbourhood. I stop, take photos and look at them in awe. My friends say I am obsessed and they are probably right!” 

Leisa also loves encouraging neighbours to plant cockatoo friendly trees such as marri trees, jarrah trees or smaller plants such as banksia. “Our council likes to plant jacaranda trees but I pushed for native trees instead and we now have a red gum going in shortly for our verge. Often the neighbours will accept what council tell them so I let them know the other native options which will feed our cockatoos.”  

Furthermore, she recognised the danger for the cockatoos drinking water from the roadside pools so she successfully lobbied her local council to provide an alternative drinking fountain that was safe for cockatoos to use.

It was only natural for Leisa to join the Kaarakin rescue team. After learning the ropes, she began rescuing injured or unwell cockatoos as part of the black cockatoo rescue service provided by Kaarakin. This job can be any day of the week and takes her as far north as Bindoon and as far South as Pinjara. A total of 200 – 350 kms per week! The number of times Leisa is on the road varies. She can be on the road 6 to 7 days a week and can also attend several rescues per day. On the occasional Wednesdays, she was also asked to transport cockatoos for health checks from Kaarakin to the zoo and return. This increased to often 3 or 4 times a week.

Rescues can be tough and difficult. The injured or sick cockatoos need to be caught in a net or scooped up with a towel.

One day, Leisa rescued a Red Tail from a shrub in Shenton Park. The black cockatoo was being attacked by ravens and the ravens were waiting to attack the cockatoo as soon as it will try to fly away.  Being in a shrub it was so hard to get the hands in with a towel. Leisa tried her best and got the hands in with the towel and the cockatoo latched on two of her fingers!  She managed to get the cockatoo out on its back with its legs in the air. The Red Tail only let go of her fingers when she secured it in the pet pack. Leisa’s fingers were bleeding but there was only a small amount of time to attend to it as Leisa was focused on getting the bird to the zoo asap.

Rescues are also a time to make a connection with the people who called us to attend to the injured or sick birds.

“When I go out to a rescue I make the time to talk to the people about the cockatoos being endangered and why and what they can do to help. I tell them about planting food source trees, providing water sources for them, getting signs and water sources put in where they feed and drink. I tell them Kaarakin runs on volunteers and that I am volunteer too.  Sometimes I have to tell them why birds are put to sleep and that can be a difficult conversation but reluctantly they understand.”

Dedicated volunteers like Leisa contribute significantly to the wellbeing and survival of our beautiful black cockatoos in Western Australia. If you would like to feel empowered and contribute to the running of our rescue and rehabilitation centre, sign up to become a volunteer today!

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