Caring for Christmas Island's birds

The red foots' down is turning to feathers

One of the jobs at my ranger’s house is to care for any orphaned birds that are brought in to the park.

For these guys it’s just a fact that if they’re unlucky enough to fall from the nest because of a high wind or a bit of rough and tumble with their brothers and sisters, mum or dad doesn’t come to fetch them. But if locals see a downy chick wandering about down on the ground they know to bring it to us.

At the moment I’m taking care of six red-footed boobies that are just beginning to get their first feathers. I’m still feeding them twice a day but within the next few weeks they’ll start flying out and becoming more independent.

They’ll most likely keep returning for a few more weeks after that before flying the nest for good.

Our year-old Abbots booby

We also have a young Abbott’s booby - as a species they stay with the parents for about 12 months which is why he’s been staying with us since January. He was too young to fly when he first came to us but now he gets out and flies with other birds that are nesting in the area. Most days he still returns to the safety of ‘home’ - as well as the meal he knows will be there!

It won’t be long before these guys are all off to live independently but we’ll let you know if they pop back for a visit.

Rob, Christmas Island National Park

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