Jackdaws are probably the most common corvid species rescued and cared for in captivity, which is mainly due to the fact that they have adapted very well to an urban lifestyle and that they are often nesting in very close proximity to us humans. Jackdaw babies are also often perceived as being irresistibly cute in the eyes of many humans, which seems to persuade even completely unexperienced people to raise a jackdaw nestling or fledgling by themselves. Therefore it is not surprising that jackdaws are the most frequently imprinted corvid species. Before going into more detail about what imprinting means and what the consequences of imprinting are, it might be useful to look into some aspects of the natural behaviour and some of the normal social interactions of jackdaws.
Continue reading “The Consequences of Imprinting”
Jacky is a western jackdaw (Coloeus monedula), also known as Eurasian jackdaw, European jackdaw, or simply jackdaw, and is a passerine bird belonging to the crow family. She is a seven year old imprinted bird, whose care we have taken over about one year ago. Jacky is unfortunately not releasable, as she has spent her whole life with humans. Jacky has been rescued as a fledgling by a well meaning person, who raised and unintentionally imprinted her. It did not take long for Jacky to conquer our hearts. Jacky lives with us, as she is not comfortable with other residential jackdaws, and is sadly not being tolerated by her own kind. Experiencing non-human animals like Jacky can be an eye opener for people, who never had this kind of close relationship with non-human animals like her. And as people, who have already opened their minds and hearts towards the plight of human as well as non-human animals, we are still again and again amazed by what we can learn from our non-human fellows. This insight makes it even more difficult to comprehend and live with the widely accepted normality and legality of discrimination and persecution of human and non-human animals.
Continue reading “Jackdaw Jacky – Thoughts about Sentience”
“Smooth like velvet” sprang into my mind when thinking of a name for our latest patient – a rook baby. It was May 2014. The lady who had kindly picked up Velvet underneath a rookery, situated in a massive cedar tree, cared for him at her home until she got overwhelmed by the task. When we were asked to take over, we noticed a nasty compound fracture of his left leg – the bone had pierced through the tender skin. It was a surprise Velvet had survived such a deep fall anyway, landing next to one of the busiest roads on the island. But the fractured leg needed to be treated, although we knew it would be too late to even hope for full function of the limb.
Continue reading “Rook Velvet – An Obituary”
It is nesting season and corvid fledglings are about to leave their nests to start the big adventure of life. Corvid fledglings are fully feathered and healthy looking birds, who can perch, stand and hop by themselves. They are already able to fly short distances. Fledglings of many bird species leave the nest at this stage, and for good reasons. If they would remain in the nest, predators could have an easy meal, killing the whole brood at once. Leaving the nest and hiding scattered in trees, in the undergrowth or in bushes, even when not fully developed and not being able to fly properly, is the best way to increase survival chances. It gives fledglings the time and required exercise to improve their flying skills, which often takes less than a week of daily practice, after they have left the nest.
Continue reading “First Aid for Birds – How to help a Grounded Corvid Fledgling”
This story occurred a couple of years ago, but the described scenario and underlying problem is as timeless as ever. During my evening shift as marine mammal surveyor on board of a ferry on route to Santander in Spain, I was forced to witness a small group of lost racing pigeons loosing their fight against the strong winds of the Bay of Biscay. I had to watch the drama unfolding, and there was nothing I could do to help. In this respect, spring and autumn surveys are known to be particularly emotionally demanding, as surveyors are regularly forced to helplessly watch the struggle of travelling and migrating birds. This situation is neither unexpected nor unique, but can be emotionally draining. At the very least, it feels very surreal when witnessing tragedies like this one on board of a luxurious ferry, where most people are busy enjoying their lives and holidays. Most of these tragic encounters go unnoticed and are missed even by keen birders and whale and dolphin enthusiasts armed with expensive gear.
Continue reading “Racing Pigeon Biscay”