The Young Black-Backed Gull



Southern Black-Backed Gull "Larus dominicanus".

Date Captured:

22 April 1995

Location Captured:

Evans Bay Yacht Club

Person Reporting:

Tony Cowdrey

Band Number:


Admission Weight:


Release Weight:



N/A (Juvenile)

Rehab Unit No:

18 "Bones"


First Year Juvenile - Plumage dark brown speckled with white, dorsal feathers buff coloured, mottled beneath and striped with brown and white on rump and tail coverts above and below. Flight feathers and tail uniformly brown, bill blackish/yellow, eyes brown, feet greyish yellow. Has past the first moult as has more white apparent than first pre-moult stage


Bird found covered in oil around underparts of stomach and tail area. Very thin. Left wing drooping (when facing you) and badly bruised but not broken - very passive when being handled. Eyes Bright.



18:00 Given 2 capsules Titralac/Glucose (Glucose and 1/2 tablet Titralac) Then washed in hair shampoo - WellFlex - mild in warm water, rinsed and put in cage inside to rest. Very little resistance when held, strong beak reflex but no pecking response. No struggling.

19:10 Found standing in small cage. Voluntarily ate 10 grms Hoki soaked in salt water with 1 glucose and titralac capsule. Well behaved bird that is easy to handle. Still smells very strongly of Diesel, but feathers appear a lot cleaner. Faeces x 2 contain blood and oil. No sign of regurgitation.


06:30 Found standing in cage - no regurgitations present. Faeces still containing blood and oil. Left wing drooping badly but no sign of a break - difficult to ascertain if there is bruising due to oil discoloration. Fed 1 titralac and glucose capsule. Food given voluntarily 50 grms Hoki.

09:00 Moved into larger cage and put outside as weather warm. Salt water and fresh water left voluntarily.

12:30 Food left voluntarily 100 grms Hoki and 1 tsp glucose mixed in salt water. This bird is a good eater.

16:00 Faeces contain only oil - no traces of blood present. Given a warm bath and more shampoo applied to belly area and tops of legs and under tail. 0.20 mls Ivomec given orally even though no external signs of parasites evident. Wing still very droopy. Put out in sun to dry off and housing provided by free choice. Fed 200 grms whole spotty, and terakihi including guts.


06:30 All food eaten - faeces now containing no oil. Fed voluntarily 100 grms pilchards. Bird seemed depressed today for the first time. Has coped well in caged environment up till now.

13:30 Checked by Ineke - Looked OK stood up when she went out there to check on him. Was not sitting with face in the corner.

17:45 Bird found in house sitting on towel. Fed voluntarily 100 grms Hoki and gravy beef with 1/2 Mazun. Wing in normal position.


06:30 No regurgitations present, food topped up with 100 grms seagull meat, and 100 grams Hoki and chopped liver.

09:00 Bird weighed - 800 grms and given flapping exercise. Wing drooped very badly following this so decided to take to the vet. Given 1 glucose and Titralac Capsule. Bird still smelling of Diesel.

12:00 Bird found sleeping in house caught and taken to Taita Vet. Steve confirmed no breaks. and that left wing was severely bruised in shoulder joint. Skin an angry purple colour in the joint. The bird would require a weeks rest for swelling to subside.

17:50 Voluntary food supply topped up with 50 grms Hoki.


06:30 Fed voluntarily 100 grms Hoki in salt water. All previous food eaten. Wing in normal position this morning. Has been raining. Bird is not waterproof. Found sitting in house.

17:30 Fed voluntarily 100 grms mince gravy beef and hoki in salt water. Faeces now normal.


06:30 Fed voluntarily 100 grms Mince, Hoki and gravy beef and 1/2 Mazun tablet in salt water. All previous food eaten. Wing in normal position this morning. Bird up and walking about.

17:45 Fed voluntarily 100 grms Hoki, mince and dog roll. Flapping practise to exercise wings. Left wing very weak still and drooping when returned to cage.


01:00 Moved Bones to side yard as weather (southerly) is very rough.

07:00 Bones sitting in house soaking wet from the rain. Has obviously been standing out in it. Food still remains from last nights feed.

18:00 Still hasn't eaten last nights food - removed it. Tried 100 grms ox heart and liver.


09:30 Bird appearing very depressed - very little food eaten 50 grms since the evening feed of 27/4/95. 150 grms of the food was left from the night of 27/4/95. Have decided that this deterioration has taken place since the move into the side yard that the space definition of the area is not conducive to these types of birds. Have now moved Bones back around to sea side of yard. Given 1 capsule titralac and glucose. New food given voluntarily - 50 grms Hoki with 1/2 Mazun tablet, and 3 fresh mussels removed from the shell. Fresh seawater and fresh water also supplied. Flapping practise. Left wing still very weak and drooping when returned to stationary position.

10:30 The change in behaviour is astounding. Bones hopped into the salt water dish and gave himself a bath in the salt water, lots of preening and washing. Now is hopping around the cage quite happily. Also drinking fresh water voluntarily.


06:45 Has eaten all the food left for him yesterday except for 1 mussel. Fed 50 grms ox liver and mince - started eating straight away. Seems a lot brighter now.

14:40 Flapping practise - stronger than yesterday but wing still drooping. The angry purple swelling has improved a bit but is still noticeable.

17:00 Fed 15 grms Hoki. Bones in the bath preening and ducking.


06:45 Fed 50 grms Hoki and 25 grms seagull meat. Had eaten all of last meal except 3 small bits of ox liver less than 5 grms.

18:07 Flapping practise - wing positions and motions more evenly based tonight. Showed first sign of improvement in wing. Seems to be coping with the exceptionally bad weather well, taking cover in his box. Have been ensuring that his bedding is kept as dry as possible to ensure no infection starts in lung area.


06:00 100 grms Hoki given voluntarily.

17:20 Flapping practise. Picking and biting at feet which is a sign of stress. Wing appears stronger, but still not going back into normal position on recovery. No food eaten. Given titralac and glucose capsule.


05:30 Still no food eaten. Replaced supply with 50 grms Hoki.

16:25 Bones has eaten the food put out this morning. He has started pacing the cage exterior. Fed 100 grms fresh mussels voluntarily. Has drunk a lot of fresh water today.


06:45 Fed 70 grms Hoki voluntarily - all the mussels have been eaten

17:10 Fed 100 grms Hoki and 1/2 Mazun tablet voluntarily. Bones was sitting in his house - raining again today. He has drunk 1/2 icecream container of water and emptied out his sea water bowl - Must have been swimming during the day.


06:30 Has eaten half of the food left from last night so will wait till later to feed him.

17:40 Fed 100 grms Hoki voluntarily. Bones feathers are now in normal condition and are now waterproof.


16:00 Has eaten most of the Hoki - 4 small bits left. Fed 100 grms fresh mussels voluntarily and given Bones a Kahawai head chopped in half to give him something to occupy him. Wing seems worse today and is hanging all the time. Need to watch for self mutilation as there is no other reason for this to have happened. No obvious signs at present. Have changed the seawater container that he uses for bathing to a lower, longer one in case getting in and out of the other one is causing the trouble. After about 30 mins he went to the lower seawater bath and started drinking.

18:00 Decided to strap the wing with a figure of 8 bandage. Used stretch sprain bandage and vet tape. The bandaging went well, however as soon as the bird was released he went straight into the salt water bath and the tape became unstuck. We caught him again and taped right around the bandage and the bird had it undone in 5 mins flat. Behaviour on release with the bandage on consisted of him running around the cage - balance was fine. His good wing flapped and he preened continuously. Ended up putting him back in the cage with no bandage, letting him recover from the stress.


09:00 Bones seems to have suffered no ill effects from yesterday, and has eaten about 30 grms of the mussels. Has been able to put his wing into the normal position today at least temporarily. He keeps his sleeping compartment very clean - going out over the edge to defecate - probably an instinctive behaviour left from being a chick where they go to the edge of the nest to go to the toilet.


07:15 Fed 200 grms mussels Bones enjoys mussels and eats them straight away. Spent a lot of time in his house today as it was raining.


06:45 Fed 50 grms cat food and 100 grms mussels. Wing in place to day but when stretching the wing is not being extended fully.

17:20 Bones is spending a lot of time in either the fresh or salt water bath. Added 3 small live kahawai to the salt water bath which he promptly ate.


06:30 Fed 200 grms Hoki and 1 Mazun vitamin tablet. Bones has been eating well and is very bright. Wing in place but still no extension. Favours the wing when getting in and out of the water.

15:00 Fed 250 grms Hoki, and 1 live fish - spent his time chasing it around the dish before eating it.


07:30Let Bones out of his cage for a swim in the Rehab Pool. Showed no fear of hopping straight in and had a good wash. Investigated the yard and spent time preening and stretching his wings. Bad wing is obviously being favoured but uses it for balance when climbing out of the pool. The wing seems very stiff at the elbow joint. Had two small live fish from salt water dish.

17:00 Allowed to wander around yard while cage being cleaned. Quite happy having an investigation. Went back into cage without any fuss.


06:15 Released into yard. Spent a lot of time washing and preening is quite happy wandering around and has learned to go through the holes in both gates. Uses bad wing for balance but still is drooping quite a lot.

15:35 Fed 200 grms mussels - 30 grms Hoki uneaten.


07:30 Waiting in corner ready to be let out this morning. Released into yard for a wander around before the main flock arrived. Has had a dip in the pool.


06:15 Fed 100 grms seagull meat in the pool seemed to enjoy chasing it around the surface.

16:30 Fed 100 grms mussels with Arnica and 1 symphytum tablet. Is now spending the night in the open - often in the company of the Mallard.


06:30 Fed 100 grms Hoki and a drop of Arnica remedy. Given access to the Rehab pool. Is not bothered by other gulls - there is another juvenile hanging around quite a lot - a bit of company.

16:30 Given 50 grms seagull meat. Spent the night with the Mallard again. Is beginning to make more use of his wing and almost has full extension and return.


07:30 Given 100 grms Cat Food - Chef Chicken and Turkey casserole. Put sprinkler on in pool so that he could both swim and wash. He has not seen the sprinkler before and is rather wary. Extending injured wing more fully and hopping up in the air to try and become airborne.

17:00 Fed 4 live spotties.


08:00 Fed 5 live fish and seagull meat - 50 grms. Is spending a lot of the day putting his wings out and jumping. There is another juvenile black-backed gull attacking him during the day at intervals by getting him baled up in the cage corner where he is unable to escape. Have removed the cage to prevent this from happening.

18:50 Fed 50 grms Hoki - is sleeping outside beside the duck.


07:46 Fed 50 grms seagull meat and given a swim in the rehab pool.

10:15 Bones has managed to get onto the seawall. Has walked to the neighbours and landed in their yard. Have brought him back home by herding through the gate.


10:30 Bones has gone to the penguin sanctuary. Spends his time scuttling around there. Can fly 12 metres and stay on course.

18:20 Fed down at the penguin sanctuary - 50 grms seagull meat in fresh water. Fed after dark so there is no problem with the other gulls stealing the food or getting aggressive. Will feed him for a few more days in this fashion. Bones now considered well and returned to normal.


Last updated: August 18, 1996.

This page is maintained by Charlie Lear.

Copyright © 1996 - Charlie Lear
Wellington, New Zealand