Rescuers 'sickened' after finding bird with horrific injury

Michael Dahlstrom
·News and Video Producer
·4-min read

Investigators are calling for public help after a nesting bird was found shot through the chest with an arrow.

RSPCA Queensland say they felt “sickened” after attending the animal abuse call-out at Woodford, 62km north of Brisbane.

Concerned locals who had been watching the plover raise her young, spotted the arrow injury on Wednesday and called for assistance.

Split screen. Left - An RSPCA rescuer crouches over the injured plover. Right - close up of plover with arrow through its chest
Rescuers were left sickened after a call out to help a plover with an arrow through its chest. Source: RSPCA Queensland

Heartbreaking video shows the plover still able to fly, but struggling to stand on her one working leg due to being unbalanced by the weight of the arrow.

Despite crippling injuries, the protective mother continues try and protect her four chicks, flying away from them and calling in order to create a distraction.

Understandably wary of people, the bird keeps her distance from RSPCA Queensland rescue officer Chantelle Scolari, who slowly stalks her with a net.

Minutes later, Ms Scolari pounces with a yellow net and grabs the tired bird, and although the plover has put up a good fight, it’s clear she’s in a lot of pain.

Cradling the bird, the rescuer assesses her injuries, still hopeful something can be done to save her.

“She’s broken her leg which is why she wasn’t able to walk on it,” she says.

“You’re okay sweetheart.”

Plovers are incredibly good parents

Birdlife Australia’s Sean Dooley told Yahoo News Australia that plovers, otherwise known as masked lapwings are incredibly good parents.

Unlike most birds they don’t nest in trees, and instead prefer to lay their eggs in large open fields.

While plovers may make a lot of noise and swoop, unlike magpies it is incredibly rare for them to ever make contact with a person.

The species have been known to sacrifice their own wellbeing for their chicks.

An RSPCA rescuer holds the injured plover with an arrow through its chest. The yellow net can be seen hanging from its body.
The plover had received an injury to her chest and leg due to the arrow. Source: RSPCA Queensland.

“They’re more bluff than anything else,” Mr Dooley said.

“If you see one being aggressive, the best thing to do is move out of the area slowly and keep facing the bird.

“They’re less likely to swoop if they know you’re watching, as they will use the element of surprise.

“The worst thing you can do is panic or throw things at them as that just enforces you’re a threat.”

Investigators concerned amid similar attacks on wildlife

Michael Beatty from RSPCA Queensland told Yahoo News Australia that when birds or animals are shot with arrows “it’s never a quick death”.

“The links between animal cruelty and other forms of abuse down the track are well known,” he said.

“It’s not as though people are shooting arrows at birds to eat them, it appears they’re simply doing it for pleasure.

“Unfortunately, the animals can suffer over a long period of time for someone’s gratification, and that’s upsetting.”

The plover continues to keep her eggs warm during a snow storm in Blackheath last year. Source: D Jackson
The plover continues to keep her eggs warm during a snow storm in Blackheath last year. Source: D Jackson

After taking the plover to a wildlife hospital at Wacol, vets assessed her and found the chest and leg injuries were irreparable.

They were left with no option but to euthanise her, leaving the chicks to be raised by their father alone.

A vet assesses the injured plover at a wildlife hospital at Wacol.
A vet assesses the injured plover at a wildlife hospital at Wacol. Source: RSPCA Queensland

RSPCA Queensland said the attack on the plover was one of three recent attacks on wildlife in the area.

The charity say that an Ibis was pierced with an arrow in Caboolture in June, and another was found in Morayfield in May with gun pellet wounds.

Anyone with information regarding the shootings is urged to contact the RSPCA on 1300 ANIMAL (1300 264 625).

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