Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Juvenile jackdaw

I know you're not supposed to pick up juvenile birds on the ground as generally the parents will be in close attendance, but on Sunday we kept our eye on this baby jackdaw for 5 or 6 hours, during which time no adult bird went near it, so we concluded it was probably abandoned.

And when it tried to fly, we had the impression one of its wings was damaged.

Finally, the cat spotted it, so we figured it was doomed whatever happened, so caught it and put it in a cardboard box in the attic, gave it a bowl of water and another of mixed wild bird feed, and left it for the night.

In the morning I opened its box at about 5 and went back to bed.  When I checked it later, it was looking very sorry for itself, but in the meantime I'd found a website which talked about what to feed it (catfood is good!) and what other needs it might have.  Armed with my newfound knowledge, I realised immediately that the bird was cold, so put heaters on to warm the room, and after a couple of hours, the it did start to perk up.

I couldn't persuade it to eat anything, but it did at least sip some water, and seemed quite alert, if not very active.  When it did move about it seemed clumsy, and it kept failing to fly.  It really hadn't got the idea and didn't really flap hard enough, so quickly crashed each time, but I think it was just young and incompetent.

So this morning, having failed once more to get any food into it, I started looking for a wildlife rescue centre nearby, and what a task that proved to be!  Springwatch directs you to the RSPCA but their website search engine, given my postcode, said "Nothing within 50 miles" which I know is simply not true.  The RSPCA phone menuing system sends you down a blind alley and then hangs up on you.  It was useless.

Veggies Animal Contacts Directory was not much better.  Several of the phone numbers are simply wrong - all UK numbers these days consist of a 5-digit area code, followed by a 6-digit personal phone number - so just by looking at 5-digits followed by 5-digits I could see they were never going to work.  And references to those centres are replicated several times across the net, always with the wrong phone number.  The centres with good phone numbers never answered the phone.

Safewings near Kettering was very helpful, but simply too far away.  Bedford and Cambridge Wildlife Trust was full, but did suggest I contact my local vet to see if they had contacts.  They did, but by then, parallel enquiries on the Bedfordshire Wildlife Rescue site yielded Caroline Huxtable in Stevenage, who kindly agreed to take the bird.  I boxed it up and shipped it over pronto!

Caroline examined it and declared it pathetically undernourished and dehydrated.  She weighed it and calculated the amount of fluids she was going to have to administer per 24 hours, then warned me that it was absolutely touch and go.  If it survives the next day or two, it will probably be OK, but right now it's in deep trouble.  Poor little thing.

She did reassure me that we had not done the wrong thing by rescuing it.  They're getting lots of corvids right now, as the ground has been so hard for so long, the parent birds have been having real trouble finding enough food for their chicks, so this one probably really was abandoned.  The wing did show signs of injury, but I'm not sure it was actually broken or deformed.  And in any case, the cat would have had it, if we'd left it.

So having found someone who knows what she's doing to look after it, all I have to do now is clean up the poo liberally scattered across the attic!

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