What have cats, cars and wildlife in common? Cats are domesticated companion animals, cars are manmade machines, and both are able to kill living beings when not supervised or controlled. Cars kill cats and wildlife, and cats kill wildlife too. Neither of both scenarios is ‘natural’, both are artificial and manmade. So what is the impact, and what can be done to keep both, our beloved companion cats and wildlife, safe?
Goldfinch Little Prince has been admitted to us as a fledgling in July 2017 after being attacked by a cat. He suffered a fracture of his wing and several puncture wounds, which have been treated accordingly. Little Prince recovered well and after being weaned he has been moved into our communal outdoor aviary, to give him sufficient room for exercise and adequate company allowing him to adapt well to the outdoors.
Little Prince made very good progress, but was not flying well enough to be released at this time. After an extended period of close observation the decision has been made that Little Prince would be better off to be released at a later date, which meant that he had to stay with us over the winter, to give him extra time for exercise and practice.
Admission – 13/08/2017
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!
Admission – 22/04/2017
Immanuel is an immature second year magpie, who has been observed being grounded in a garden for several days. Whilst being in hiding, Immanuel has been attacked by a cat, but luckily managed to escape. He has been eventually caught, when he was seeking shelter in a conservatory following the cat attack.
The admission assessment revealed no obvious injuries, but showed a loss of all tail feathers and severely damaged primaries and secondaries involving both wings rendering the bird being unable to fly. Immanuel has been treated prophylactically with antibiotics to prevent a potentially fatal infection caused by bugs transmitted by the cat. As the plumage has been found to be severely damaged, Immanuel needs to undergo a complete or post breeding moult, which is usually happening over the summer and is going to be completed by the end of September. This also means, that Immanuel needs to stay with us for almost half a year before being releasable.
Wild, and in particular adult wild magpies can be difficult patients, as they are often very nervous and easily excitable birds, who may have the tendency to harm themselves when being kept in captivity in a type of aviary, which doesn’t completely suit their needs. Sufficient shelter and hiding spaces are crucial to allow these birds to feel undisturbed and to relax in a captive environment. Magpies enjoy to cache their food items and need therefore suitable areas, where they can do so. It can be also sometimes difficult to introduce magpies into mixed species groups, as other corvid species are commonly reluctant to accept magpies amongst them. Although jackdaws are the most likely species to be tolerant enough to accept magpie company, it is more about the individual personalities than the species itself, as we had positive outcomes with jackdaws, crows, jays and rooks. Age and previous negative or positive experiences seem to play a role as well, as does the degree of maturity and the time of the year in respect of the breeding season. Generally speaking, mixed setups of this kind have to be closely monitored as they are prone to seemingly sudden change.
Update – 03/09/2017
Magpie Immanuel is doing well in his outdoor aviary, which he is sharing with magpie Kiri and jackdaws Benno and Kojak. He has moulted most of his primary and secondary feathers and has also regrown his tail feathers. The result looks promising and we are now hopeful that Immanuel can be released by the end of September, when his moult is completed.
Update – 23/09/2017
Today magpie Immanuel has been successfully soft released. Stay safe Immanuel!
Admission – 23/08/2017
Ali is an immature dunnock, who has been brought to us, after being caught by a cat. Ali has been admitted with severe shock symptoms and had to be stabilised before a full assessment could be made. It took nearly 24 hours for him to recover from the shock inflicted by the cat attack. The full assessment revealed several bruises, puncture wounds, lost tail feathers and a sprain injury of his right leg. Dunnock Ali has been treated for shock, pain, bruises and the potentially fatal pasteurella multocida infection caused by the cat attack. In this context it is important to understand, that all birds, in fact all animals, who have been caught by cats, have to be treated with antibiotics, even without showing any external signs of an injury. These animals will be otherwise killed by an overwhelming systemic infection or septicaemia, which would occur in birds within 72 hours post cat contact.
As Ali’s leg symptoms didn’t improve despite treatment for trauma and nerve injury, we decided to tape the foot to assist the healing process. Four days later the tape has been removed and a brief assessment showed the return of the full functionality of foot and leg. Ali has been kept a few days longer indoors in a so called flexarium, which is a soft fabric mesh indoor aviary allowing him to exercise safely without damaging his plumage further, which is a common but avoidable problem when active birds like him are being kept for rehabilitation in the wrong environment like a wire cage.
Update – 01/09/2017
Today dunnock Ali has been moved into a large communal outdoor soft release aviary, where he will stay until he has acclimatised to outdoor temperatures and has had enough time to exercise and regrow his traumatically lost tail feathers. This will also give him a good chance to improve the waterproofing of his plumage, which is another often underestimated factor before being soft released. Soft release is the preferred release method to be used for hand-reared birds, juveniles or long term patients.
These birds are being kept in a specially designed species specific aviary, which will then be opened to allow the birds to leave in their own time. Support feeding will be provided and the birds are also able to return whenever the feel the need to. This way theses birds are given the best posibble chance to successfully return into the wild and to be re-integrated into their respective bird societies.
Update – 18/09/2017
Today dunnock Ali has been successfully soft released. Stay safe Ali!