Tanya has been volunteering at Kanyana for the past six years. Here’s what a normal morning shift involves...
I arrive as close to 8.00 am as possible, because all those birds and animals are usually hungry! That's always good to see, as hungry creatures are usually getting better.
After stowing my bag in the locker in the volunteers' room, I check in with the shift supervisor to see where I'm most needed. Mostly I stick to feeding and cleaning in the hospital, which is our Stage 1 (most intensive) level of care.
A quick look at what's in each hospital box and it's into the feeding. The young ones require the most—up to 10 feeds per day—and sometimes there's a nest with several nestlings, all of them crying for food as soon as they see movement. It's quite satisfying to stuff fruit or tiny meatballs into those gaping beaks and then see them settle for a nap, after first cocking their little bottoms over the edge of the nest to rid themselves of the remains of the previous meal!
Many of the adult patients will feed themselves and I go around making sure they have enough fresh food and water and that they can reach it, as some might have mobility problems. Often I'll clean the box and weigh the occupant as I go, as the less they're handled, the better. Other volunteers are focussed solely on the cleaning of the boxes. Sometimes the person doing the treatments will say that it's time to move a patient to Stage 2 (acclimatisation), usually out in the roofed, open-sided area next to the hospital that we call 'the breezeway'. I'll set up a cage for that bird and record the move on the computer.
At around 10.00 am we break for morning tea in the volunteers' room, which is a chance to hear what's happening elsewhere on the grounds and at Kanyana in general, as well as swap stories of current events, the latest movies or travels.
By 10.30 I'm usually back into it, doing more feeding, perhaps receiving a new admission, or assisting with 'special feeds'. The latter is where the animal is unwilling or unable to take food and must be held and fed from a syringe, sometimes with a tube down the throat. I'll also check what's in the mammal room, as we often have a bandicoot or possum that needs weighing and its box cleaning. I'll also put in some food for them and a warm bowl of special-formula milk, which—despite them being half asleep—they usually lap up most willingly!
The shift ends at midday and other volunteers arrive to cover the next four hours. I check with the supervisor that all tasks are done and head off home for lunch.
It's great to see all the animals up close and learn about the challenges they face and of course to feel that I've helped some of them recover and get back to 'life as usual'.