Herbie, a blackbird nestling, came to us as after being caught by a cat. Herbie suffered superficial wounds around his back and right hip. Additionally, we found a sprain injury of his right leg. The routine faecal float test revealed a severe coccidia infection. Herbie has been treated accordingly and settled in very well. It took just a couple of days for Herbie to fledge. He then has been moved from his hospital box into a much larger flexarium, which is a soft fabric indoor aviary, to allow him to exercise his wings and leg without damaging his developing plumage. His superficial wounds healed very well. The mild paralysis of his leg, caused by the sprain injury, did also resolve completely.
Update – 03/07/2017
When it became clear that Herbie was reliably eating by himself, we transferred him from the indoor flexarium into our outdoor release aviary, where he joined blackbird Marcia. Birds which have been in care for more than a few days should be reacclimatised by housing in an outside aviary for a period of time (generally about two weeks) before release. Fledglings also require an oppertunity to exercise to develop sufficient fitness prior to their release. The exposure to the elements will also encourage preening and ensure that the plumage is returned to normal waterproofing, which is important for any bird species.
Update – 22/09/2017
Today blackbird Herbie has been successfully released. Stay safe Herbie!
Blackbird Marcia came to us three weeks after been rescued by a well meaning person, who found the bird as a nestling being out of the nest on the ground. Unfortunately, a wrong diet has been fed to the bird, which led to a very poor plumage and delayed general development. Marcia suffered also from an untreated coccidia infection worsened by a generally weakened immune system due to lack of nutrients, vitamins and minerals. Additional plumage damage has been inflicted by keeping the fledgling bird in a metal cage. Marcia appeared also clearly imprinted, as she has been raised by her own. Luckily, the finder didn’t release Marcia as initially intended, but only because of concerns regarding cats visiting the garden. This was the main reason why Marcia has been brought to us eventually, which saved her live and gave her another chance.
Although Marcia’s plumage might not look too bad at the first glance, one should not forget that most plumage related problems will manifest themselves at a later stage. Feathers and flight are the primary facets of bird rehabilitation, which are sometimes overlooked by inexperienced and even seemingly experienced rescues and rehabbers. Feather condition is as critical during the course of release for birds as is the ability to fly. Any type of damage to the feather structure will impede a bird’s ability to fly, to be waterproof and to thermoregulate. In short, birds with compromised feather condition have a low survival rate following being released. To further compound the problem, the majority of birds have only one annual moult, the first complete one usually occurring in their second year.
Update – 28/05/2017
It took Marcia five months to replace all damaged and prematurely lost feathers. Marcia was unable to fly for many weeks, which would have been her death sentence in the wild. She would have been unable to protect herself from the elements, rendering her unable to maintain her body temperature and unable to forage. Marcia has spent most of the time in our sheltered soft release aviary, where she could exercise and explore freely, but where she also had the chance to find shelter and warmth when needed.
Update – 22/09/2017
Today blackbird Marcia has been successfully released. Stay safe Marcia!
Orwell is a fledgling blackbird, who has been caught and injured by a cat. He suffered a puncture wound to his left wing as well as sprain injury of his left leg. Orwell has been treated accordingly, which did include a course of antibiotics to counteract a potentially fatal infection transmitted by the cat contact. Orwell settled in very quickly and was eager to be fed. A couple of days later blackbird Orwell has been moved from his hospital box into a much larger flexarium, which is a soft fabric indoor aviary, to allow him to exercise his wing and leg without damaging his developing plumage. The puncture wound to his wing healed very well. The mild paralysis of his leg, caused by the sprain injury, which did obviously involve soft tissues and femoral nerve, has also completely resolved.
Update – 26/08/2917
Today Orwell has been moved into our soft release outdoor aviary, as he is now independently feeding. Birds which have been in care for more than a few days should be reacclimatised by housing in an outside aviary for a period of time (generally about two weeks) before release. Fledglings also require an oppertunity to exercise to develop sufficient fitness prior to their release. The exposure to the elements will also encourage preening and ensure that the plumage is returned to normal waterproofing, which is important for any bird species. Orwell settled in very well into his new temporary home.
Update – 18/09/2017
Today blackbird Orwell has been successfully soft released. Stay safe Orwell!