Darters are very wary water birds that can swallow their prey whole! They are birds that live in both salt and freshwater and usually live up to 15 years of age.
The darter is also known as a snakebird due to its long and slender neck. Their neck will protrude above the water whilst the rest of their body is submerged into the water.
In February, two rescue jobs for two separate darters got called into the RSPCA, both with entangled beaks. One was in Bowies Flat Wetland in Camp Hill and the other in Greenslopes.
The first rescue at Camp Hill, the darter had orange netting entangled around its beak, similar to an onion bag. Two RSPCA Rescue Officers and Hammy from Pelican Seabird Rescue (PSBR), joined forces to capture, rescue and release the bird successfully.
The second mission was a bit trickier, the darter kept moving to different hunting spots which meant that between PSBR and RSPCA, the job was attended five times before being able to locate and capture the bird!
In the end the darter was captured, and the netting was easily extracted with no damage. Both darters were able to be released immediately after the netting was removed.
Darters are difficult birds to capture, and they tend to dry their wings on the water’s edge which is the best time to try to rescue them. Darters are often seen drying their feathers which is necessary before they can take off, they can’t fly with wet wings.
It is very common for darters to get entangled in discarded waste due to the serrated edges of their beaks. There sharp beak impales fish, and this is how darters hunt for their food, which they then carry ashore.
Being a water rescue, our rescuers did end up getting wet, but all for a good outcome - saving two precious darters who did not suffer any injuries.
If you see an injured, trapped or sick animal, call our 24/7 Animal Emergency Hotline, 1300 ANIMAL (1300 264 625)