Rescuing a moho pererū/banded rail

Department of Conservation —  23/03/2020

A banded rail recently found dazed and confused in the Coromandel has been released back to its home after being cared for by a retired vet nurse from the Kuaotunu Bird Rescue Trust.

It all started when Anne Betty, a local from Little Bay came across a moho pererū/banded rail stumbling around seeming a bit dazed and disoriented at the back of her property one afternoon.

Moho pererū/banded rail found dazed and confused

The following morning it was actually bumbling around right by her front porch, so she was able to quickly pick it up and take it inside. Moho pererū are usually quite a shy bird and not easy to catch, they are found sparsely throughout New Zealand, usually in wetlands, mangroves and salt marshes. 

After taking the bird inside, Anne got in contact with Annemieke from the Kuaotunu Bird Rescue Trust who is a retired vet nurse. She cares for injured birds in her own time out of passion and the goodness of her amazing heart. Our local Coromandel DOC staff have a good relationship with Annemieke as people sometimes drop injured birds off to our office and they are passed onto her to for care.

As soon as Annemieke got the call, volunteer driver Neville went and picked up the injured bird. Once it arrived Annemieke couldn’t find any external injuries to explain the bird’s behaviour so she placed it in a space where it could be observed. She noticed a slight irregular gait (walking abnormality) as well as the head slightly tilting to the left. It also sometimes tripped over while walking forwards.  

Moho pererū/banded rail being cared for by the Kuaotunu Bird Rescue Trust

Annemieke suspected it could have been hit by a car or some other impact injury so it was treated with anti-inflammatories and pain relief in case of head or spinal bruising/ injury. The current drought could also have caused increased bacterial growth, like avian botulism bacterium, which if birds are exposed they can display similar symptoms. The banded rail was given fluids by crop tube before it was given any medication. This continued twice daily.

On the second day the rail needed more running space so the bird was put into an outside aviary. The bird returned to normal really quickly and was eating and drinking regularly. It was soon nicknamed Speedy Gonzales. 

“Speedy'” was taken back to the DOC base a few days later and Ranger Troy released it back to Little Bay. A happy outcome for all, go well Speedy!

Moho pererū/banded rail are a native bird that inhabits wetlands throughout New Zealand. Find out more on the DOC website:

If you find sick, injured or dead wildlife you can ring the DOC emergency hotline 0800 DOC HOT (0800 362 468). Bird rescue centres can also be found around the country. Find out more: