Field rescue involves catching distressed or injured birds from the wild or in the field. In disasters, this usually means rescuing them in the midst of devastation, destruction and debris. Circumstances are much different , more stressful and much more dangerous for birds and rescuers than capture and restraint under controlled/aviary conditions. Rescuing injured parrots is a dangerous demanding activity, as they can climb, hide and be defensive. If they can evade a rescuer’s efforts it may be best to put out food and water and let them fend for themselves. Inherent dangers in the disaster environment can make search and rescue even more dangerous.
SAFETY IN THE FIELD
First and foremost, the safety of humans, public or trained staff or emergency responders, has to be the primary objective in field rescue. All rescue staff need to be trained and experienced. Mutual aid with other organizations, utility companies, law enforcement, authorities is essential. All the usual equipment, safety and training for field rescue is identical to other wildlife.
Rescuers must take care of themselves, then their team, and then the victims. The ultimate goal is to rescue wild parrots in immediate danger, and provide a safe and secure situation until longer-term solutions are developed, however this may be impossible if rescuers or their teams become injured. Debris, floodwater, downed trees, powerlines, wind and rain present significant threats for which all responders should be prepared. In some situations special training in flood water response, entering confined spaces, building safety assessment, or fire zone safety may be necessary to ensure human safety.
In disasters where human life is in danger, animal rescue efforts are secondary to human rescue efforts. Rescue teams should be cautious that their resource use (vehicles, boats, food) is not competing with resource needs for humans at risk. Additionally bear in mind that would be rescuers who put themselves at risk and then require rescue themselves are also drawing valuable resources away from human rescue operations. Proper clothing, shoes, capture gear and transport cages are essential. If those are not available, rescuers should avoid hazards and delay rescue efforts until appropriate equipment can be obtained.
An overlooked aspect of psittacine disaster and mortalities are the dead birds themselves. Collecting deceased birds in an appropriate way, and gathering data from post-mortem examination and collection of specimens is very valuable.
Entering private property with the intent to rescue a bird needs to be done with the knowledge and permission of the owner/inhabitant of that property; or in dire situations, accompanied by proper authorities with appropriate legal instruments to do so. Not gaining permission could put your at great legal or physical risk.
Likewise, entering government-owned property may be fraught with difficulties, again having a list of contacts and being familiar with local laws is required.
DO NOT PANIC
Rescuing parrots cannot happen amidst chaos and panic. Birds pick up on emotional states, and in a heightened emotional environment, panic can escalate. A calm and confident demeanor and level soft voice will go a long way to help both psittacine and human victims. The environment itself will be dangerous, but personal safety and efficient performance will depend on calm and confidence. Rescuers should evaluate the situation, the supplies or tools at hand, and accept that not every bird will, or should be, rescued. Although it is important to provide injured birds with care ASAP, the truth is that if minutes will determine life and death, the bird will die before rescue anyway. Taking time to assess and plan may save many more lives than operating in a panic mode.
KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON
The key to confidence and calm response is training. Having a plan, a team, practicing skills and being comfortable before a disaster prevents panic and confusion. Safety training is critical. Personal safety MUST be the priority. Being able to remain calm is critical to the safety of the rescue team, as well as the bird. Compromised safety will endanger the disaster team and the parrots. The birds depend on the team to perform safely and confidently, even in dire circumstances.
Social media should not be used during the rescue. If, at a later date, photos and videos might be informative on social platforms, then they might be appropriate to post. However, live posting is not a good idea for multiple legal reasons and for protecting the staff, authorities, the public and the birds themselves. Posting photos of roosting sites, feeding sites or nests will give poachers immediate access. Each psittacine rehabilitation organization must have simple and clear social media policy.
And sadly, it has to be mentioned that rescue may entail the ire or interest of poaching operations and organized crime.Trust and good working and personal relationships with authorities and mutual participation in training and information dispersal will go a long way to help.
A smooth and atraumatic rescue is the first step to successful release to the wild.