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Bird-whispering cleaner rescues sparrow from Dunedin kindergarten

Cleaner holding rescued bird.
Aman Chand cradles the sparrow after rescuing it.

What is it about CrestClean and bird rescues?

A year ago, CrestClean featured on TV Three’s The Project after Auckland franchisee  Dominik Drahoninsky rescued a baby bird that was stuck down a drain.

And now, at the other end of the country, cleaner Aman Chand has used his bird whispering skills to rescue a sparrow from a Dunedin kindergarten.

The bird became trapped at Helen Deem Kindergarten after flying up into a high ceiling space.

Unable to set the alarm, in case the movement of the bird set it off, the kindergarten let cleaning franchisee Savita Prasad know about the situation — and she knew just the right person for the job!

“My nephew Aman has a farming background, so I knew he would be able to handle it, and he also has an attitude of not giving up,” says Savita.

Armed with a fishing net, and assisted by fellow cleaner Salendra Nair, Aman not only rescued the distressed bird, but gently soothed it, before setting it free.

“The bird was on top of the window frame and we managed to chase her down carefully with the net and trap her in a small side room,” says Aman.

“She was really scared and was in the corner trying to hide herself. Slowly, I picked her up. At first she was jumping around, but I calmed her and she was quite happy to be sitting in a warm palm.”

Once the bird had settled down from its ordeal, Aman gently let it go.

“Slowly, I released her and she was like, okay, I’m fine to go now, and flew away.”

Aman gained his bird handling skills during his childhood, having grown up on a sugar cane and root crop farm in Fiji.

“We lived near a mountain with a forest beside it, and we would check bird nests for eggs. We would go back every day and check them and when they hatched we would pamper the baby birds when the mother wasn’t there,” says Aman.

“We would feed them worms and when they were old enough we would bring them inside and put them on the couch for a minute or so, and then put them back. We were very mischievous, but we used to love that.”

The sparrow was the first bird he had handled since moving to New Zealand a year ago.

“I pampered her a lot before I released her.”

Teacher Vicky Morrison says kindergarten staff tried for an hour and a half to rescue the bird before giving up.

“Obviously our lovely cleaners were much more successful than us. It was very kind of them,” she says.

“We really love our wild birds here at kindergarten and we always look after them. We feed them every day. During the winter months we have the odd tui that comes down and bellbirds and greenfinches, so the children and us make up pinecone feeders for them with fats and all sorts of bits and pieces to sustain them over the winter months.

“It’s not often, but sometimes one comes in and, because we’ve got extremely high windows, they can’t get out again. The windows at the top of the building don’t open which makes it problematic and there’s also a big ledge, so it’s a bit of a dilemma if it happens.”

Karen Fraser, the administration manager for Dunedin Kindergartens, expressed her thanks in an email to CrestClean: “They dealt with the bird situation and had set the alarm by the time I arrived at 8pm — we’re grateful to them for their bird hunting skills!”

CrestClean’s Dunedin Regional Manager Tony Kramers says while it’s not something the Dunedin franchisees have come across before, it shows what caring, well-minded people they are.

“It’s certainly not something they would deal with on a daily, weekly or ‘ever’ basis but it just goes to show that they are caring about the environment and our customers.”

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