The bizarre device saving injured kiwis

A Whangārei man has invented a device to help kiwis that have been hit by cars.

Robert Webb of the Native Bird Recovery Centre invented the odd-looking contraption, which cradles the birds in an upright position.

"To me, any bird is worth saving, and especially our national icon," he says.

Birds that lay on their side for too long while recovering from an accident can develop pneumonia, so Mr Webb's handmade cradle helps them to maintain some free movement.

He is currently helping Sheryl - named after Whangārei mayor Sheryl Mai - to recover after she was clipped by a car at Matapouri, just six weeks after her release into the wild.

The device keeps her upright for an hour each day, taking the weight off her legs so she can keep them moving, which is key to her future survival.

"If you didn't get the legs moving, the bird would eventually have to be euthanised because she'll never go back in the wild again," says Mr Webb.

He stumbled upon the idea after seeing a friend undergoing hydrotherapy in a hospital pool. He realised the same physical therapy could benefit injured birds, although he would have to go about it rather differently.

"You can't chuck a bird in a swimming pool. You shouldn't really, they have a tendency to sink," he says. 

"I thought, how can I copy that? What if I had it in a sling? And that's how this contraption was invented."

Mr Webb says the device is working wonders for Sheryl, who seems to be on the mend.

"Every now and then she'll start lifting her own leg up. She'll lift it in the air a wee bit, so it is working, but how long it will take I have no idea."

He hopes it's just a matter of weeks before Sheryl can roam free again, thanks to a piece of bona fide Kiwi ingenuity.