Editor’s note: This post has originally been posted on 29th May 2018, and has now been updated and republished.
What have cats, cars and wildlife in common? Cats are domesticated companion animals, cars are machines built by humans, and both are able to kill sentient beings when not supervised or controlled. Cars can kill cats and wildlife, and cats can kill wildlife too. Neither of both scenarios is ‘natural’, both are artificial and creations of humans. So what is the impact, and what can be done to keep both, our beloved companion cats and wildlife, safe?
It is usually not difficult to differentiate between adult rooks (Corvus frugilegus) and carrion crows (Corvus corone). Both species may look similar at the first glance, because both have black feathers that can also look glossy. However, the long pale and pointy beak, with bare skin around its base, is the most striking and characteristic feature of rooks. It is also worth knowing that rooks nest collectively in tall trees, often close to farms or villages, which are known as rookeries. In contrast, carrion crows are fairly solitary and are usually found alone or in pairs, although they may form occasional non-breeding flocks. Unlike rooks, carrion crows do nest solitary, maintaining a large breeding territory centred around the nest.
Additional help and information about how to identify adult corvids including rooks and carrion crows can be found on the British Trust for Ornithology website (BTO).
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Spring is approaching, and this means that this year’s nesting season is about to start too. At this time of the year birds start building their nests, flitting to and from their nesting sites in search of nesting materials. Nesting behaviour and success are affected by weather and climate. And so it is no surprise that climate change is also having an impact on our native birds, leading to an even earlier start of the breeding season, which is causing the ecosystem to become unbalanced. Due to these changes, hatchlings and nestlings are potentially at risk of starvation, if their food sources, like for example insects or sand eel, are not emerging at the right time or near the place of nesting.
One of the common challenges in wildlife rescue and rehabilitation is to be frequently confronted with the suffering of sentient beings. Rescue and rehabilitation of wild animals does also regularly generate the question of what is an acceptable quality of life. When trying to find an answer to this particular question, one will automatically discover more questions and potential problems. What can be done when the desired level of quality of life is not achievable at all, or at least not within an acceptable time frame? Or, just to name a few of those questions, can the achieved treatment and rehabilitation result be maintained for the rest of the potentially natural life of the animal concerned?