Read an extract from Sylvia and the Birds on Newsroom


‘Newly rescued birds were always a bit skittish, so I kept them in this dark shelter. The ones who’d been with me a while enjoyed their playground in the garden with a kiddies’ pool, but any traumatised kororā needed peace and quiet. So, around 7am, I’d sort out who could go swimming at the beach and who would just be paddling. If they were strong and nearly ready for release, they’d get a good workout in one of the small rockpools at low tide.

‘Once, a little chap was brought to me after a gull had savagely pecked him on the head. Young and weak, he’d washed up onshore. There he was, buried in the sand with only his head poking out, and the gull was trying to eat him. I called him Kinky because his poor brain seemed to have a few connections missing after that — or maybe just some of the wiring was a bit bent out of shape. Kinky found it difficult to walk in a straight line, but he loved his swims.’

Read more at Newsroom here.