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 Rescues in 2008

2008 has been a very busy year for our rescue with various birds coming our way from everywhere.

Ernie the Rook

I had a call from Vanessa at Corvid aid asking if I could home a 5 year old rook with one wing called Ernie, he had the other amputated after a bad injury. I of course said that I would and made arrangements to have him collected from Yorkshire. There wasn't much wrong with him except that he couldn't fly and needed a permanent home, I put him in with Shamus and Murphy and he settled and is doing great, he really is a friendly chap and regularly says alright mate when I go in with his food.

Brackley the Rook

We had a call from a member of the public saying that there was a young rook just sitting by the side of the road looking very sorry for himself, he was in a small village just outside Basingstoke. I was busy doing something so Shelley and Dan quickly grabbed a cat carrier and a net and off they went to get him. On their return it became clear that he had a badly broken wing and possibly shoulder, he ate food the moment it was offered to him and perked up after a good feed. I made an appointment with Steve Cooke our vet and took him there the next day, our worst fears became a reality his wing was broken and his shoulder completely smashed no doubt by a car, there was nothing that could be done for his injuries and he would need a permanent home, we put him in with Shamus, Murphy and Ernie and he is now a very happy rook.

Barny the Jackdaw

A few days after Brackley turned up I got a call from my daughter's husband Paul who works on a farm, he had found a young jackdaw in a barn that was starving and could not fly due to wing damage, I asked him to bring the bird to us. When he arrived it became clear that he had been attacked by something and most of his feathers on his right wing were missing and the poor little chap was half starved to death. He eagerly took food as soon as it was offered to him. I decided to put him in with chip and Jack our other 2 jackdaws and they are all getting on famously, when his feathers have grown back he can be released. As he was found hiding in a barn we decided to call him Barny.

Oakley the Jackdaw

Just a couple of days later we had a call from someone in Oakley that had found a young jackdaw with a broken wing. Shelley and Dan went straight off to collect him. When he arrived it was clear that his wing and shoulder were smashed, he would never fly again, we took him to see our vet who concluded that nothing could be done to help him and we would have to make him a permanent resident. We put him in with the other Jackdaws and he has paired up with Barny, this could cause us a small problem as Barny could be released once he can fly again but of course Oakley can't, we will have to make a judgement on this when the day comes, though I think it is likely that we will keep Barny as a mate for Oakley.

Russell Crow

Russell Crow, a carrion crow found his way to us through Corvid aid. He had a badly broken wing and a dodgy foot, our vet confirmed that it was an old injury and nothing could be done to repair his wing, he did however have some antibiotics which cleared up the problem with his foot. He was a scatty bird and very wild, throwing himself around everywhere, we were worried that he would hurt himself even more so we decided to give him a try with Trouble, one of our disabled crow rescues from last year. That did the trick for him he settled very quickly and is now a very content and happy bird and no where near as scatty, he did later abandon Trouble to set up home with another crow called Bug who I am going to tell you about next.

Bug the Crow

Shelley and myself were giving my daughter Lisa a lift home early one evening; it was rush hour on the roads and they were very busy. We spotted a crow sitting on the white lines in the middle of the road with traffic whizzing by him in both directions. He was being blow backwards and forwards by the traffic wind, he looked like he was in a pretty desperate situation, fortunately Lisa lived just down the road so we dropped her off turned around and hurried back to see if we could spot him. He was still there but it was impossible to stop as there was so much traffic and it was also on a bend, we lived just down the road so we parked up at home.

Shelley and some of our lodgers and helpers grabbed a couple of nets and a carrier and ran up the road to try and rescue the poor fella. He was still there and they managed to scare him off the road and into the woods, and after much chasing around and some aerodynamic dives from Ryan they managed to catch him and bring him home to safety. On arrival it became clear that he had a badly broken wing, which looked like it was an old injury, he wasn't with it all he just laid in Shelley's lap while we examined him, we offered some mincemeat and he woofed it down like he hadn't eaten for a week. It was clear the poor bird was starving to death and had merely wondered into the road in a daze to try and find a little road kill. He was completely covered in all manner of bugs (hence the name), myself and Shelley were covered in them once we had finished examining him, me and Dan one of our helpers applied a little frontline and that did the trick. Our vet confirmed that the wing was an old injury and that he needed to become a permanent resident with us.

We kept him indoors for a couple of weeks to feed him up and give him some strength back and then decided to try him in with the Rooks as we now had an uneven number of crows and of course that doesn't work with crows at all (it seems they like to be in pairs or a loner, and violence can occur if this is not the case). Rooks on the other hand are very sociable and don't mind an uneven mix of birds. Bug seemed to be getting on well with the rooks and all seemed well and then he started to pluck all the feathers from his legs until they were bald, he looked really strange but funny almost like a ballet dancer in tights. We were however quite concerned about him so we brought him indoors for a while as we figured he was stressed with the rooks. Having got him in he started to pluck all the feathers from his chest until that was completely bald to, we were on the verge of pulling our own hair out at this point and didn't know what to do for the best. We decided to give him a try with Trouble and Russell Crow and see how things went. He seemed to settle ok and there was no violence between them and within a week we started to see some feather growth on his legs and then his chest too, we were overjoyed that we had finally got it right for him although he did steal Russell Crow from Trouble, poor old Trouble is on his own again.

Owlfie the Tawny Owl

We got a call from a member of the public who informed us that he had picked an owl up from the side of the road and had him in his living room but he had not eaten or drunk anything for a good few days and was not looking well at all. Shelley and Dan zoomed off to pick him up to see if we could help him, whilst they were away I built a small enclosure in our shed for him, I put an electric radiator in to keep him warm. On his arrival he looked very lethargic and not really with it at all, I was pretty sure that as he was found by the side of the road that he was probably suffering from concussion, he didn't seem to have any broken bones but he did have some feather damage and was very skinny indeed and small. We tried to tempt him with some water and a day old chick and even a mouse but nothing happened. We managed to drizzle some re-hydration fluid into his mouth a few times and he swallowed it.

I put him into the enclosure in the shed and left water and food (a chick and a mouse) and left him for the night. In the morning it was clear that nothing had happened the food was untouched as was the water, and he hadn't moved. We knew that he would only eat at night so we removed the food, in the evening I put another chick and mouse right in front of him but this time I skinned them, that did the trick they were both gone in the morning and he had drunk some water. He started his recovery from there and went from strength to strength and was now moving around the enclosure very well and gaining weight nicely, he was very tame with all concerned which was a bit of a worry as we were hoping to release him again once recovered.

After a couple of weeks we decided to give him an aviary of his own so we gave Sharon a call (our aviary builder, and a great job she does too) and he was given a fairly small but more than adequate enclosure. Owlfie settled in great and was getting lots of exercise and was a particular favourite of many people that came to visit us. It was at this point that we discovered that Owlfie was a female, she had never made the slightest noise until she went into her aviary, but once in there we were hearing that distinct Twit Twit call that the females make, and then one night we hear a male reply with a distinct Twoo Twoo, and we started to hear it every night and getting closer by the day (night), in the end the reply was the same volume as Owlfie call so we know that the male was right next to her aviary.

This went on for a couple of months every night, in the end we decided to open up the aviary one night to see what happened. We figured that it would be the best chance that she would have to be re-introduced back into the wild, and with a mate that could teach her to hunt again, we were going to end up with either two owls or none at all. Early the following morning, I went out to have a look and Owlfie was gone, my heart sank as I was very fond of her and I was worried how she would get on. I decided to leave the aviary door open for a while in case she got into trouble and wanted to return. She never returned to it but we heard her calling every night and the male to for some time, I kept throwing chicks onto our flat roof at night and we had put an owl box up in a big beech tree at the bottom of our garden and I put chicks in that every night. I had a few tricky moments climbing that ladder after nightfall, they had to go out in the dark so that the local crows and magpies didn't nick them. She ate the food every night but slowly their calls became more and more distant and in the end they stopped and the food was left, it was great because we knew she was now hunting for herself and she had stayed with the male, they haven't decided to use the owl box as yet but we have seen them roosting in the beech tree so it remains to be seen what happens next breeding season. We all miss Owlfie very much and she is always in our thoughts but we are very happy for her, good luck Owlfie and may God bless you this time around.

Mucker and Tucker 2 young Crows

We had a call from a lady in Bracknell just down the road from us who had picked up a baby crow that had been abandoned by his parents. She had been watching it all day and mum and dad were nowhere to be seen, it was very weak and in urgent need of some help, she agreed to bring it over to us and I set up some housing in my office, it sounded as if this bird was very young indeed. When she arrived with the bird I realised straight away that he was definitely to young to be away from the nest, the nest must have been disturbed or the poor thing may have fallen out. It was very weak indeed and could not even stand, I made up some magic water (re-hydration fluid) and got some into it and then opened his beak and pushed some soaked Go Cat down his throat, once he had swallowed some he went very quiet, I put him on a hot water bottle and went to make a cup of tea. When I walked back into my office I called to him, hello Mucker, (this is how he got his name) and his head shot up with his beak wide open and he called back franticly for food. I shovelled it in till he could take no more and he fell asleep for a couple of hours. When he awoke he started calling again with the same urgency except this time he was up on his feet and flapping his wings in a begging fashion, I knew our bond was formed at that point and he didn't really look back from there. By the time we had him for a week he was silly tame but with an unquenchable appetite, this went on for another week so I wormed him and he became more normal and his overall appearance started to improve.

Whilst this was all going on I had had a call from our vet and one of his clients had also found a very young crow that had been left by his mum and dad. I went over to pick him up and he was very young and again very weak, he would never have lasted the night if he hadn't had some immediate assistance. When I got him home I tried to give him some food and water but he wasn't interested, he struggled fiercely if I tried to open his beak to give him food, I asked Helen one of our lodgers (a lot of this years pictures come courtesy of Helen) to give me a hand, I held him and opened his beak and Helen shovelled in the food, it worked and after a couple of hours he was willingly feeding from us. I would say by the look of him that he was about a week older than Mucker so he was not quite as tame. He continued to do well and is now a very happy crow sharing accommodation with Mucker in the aviary that was vacated by Owlfie, we called him Tucker because he was much more prim and proper than Mucker who is a real commoner working class crow. It goes without saying that we all love these two birds very much as they both have very different characters but are both super intelligent and equally as loveable as each other.

Misfit and Quickfit two baby magpies

It was within a couple of days of getting Mucker and Tucker that a man from Bracknell turned up on our door with a very tiny magpie that was extremely close to death, in fact she wasn't moving at all when I opened the box that she had been brought in, she was cold and almost lifeless, I don't think she had more than about ten minute to live without immediate attention. She was also extremely tiny and no way should have been out of the nest, she also had a broken leg. I managed to get some magic liquid into her and asked the girls in the kitchen to prepare a hot water bottle to warm her up, the girls went to work on her straight away and managed to force feed her some soaked Go Cat biscuit and some slightly warm mincemeat. I went off and prepared somewhere for her to stay in my office, she spent most of the evening nestled into Shelley's cleavage, it became a bit of a joke around the household that Misfit seemed to love Shelley's cleavage. We were up most of the night with her and managed to get a good deal of food and magic fluid into her. In the end we put her to bed on a hot water bottle (covered with a thick towel), she went to sleep straight away, and we all hoped and prayed that we had done enough for her and that she would still be with us in the morning. I was very tense when I went in to check on her first thing in the morning, I was elated to find her still with us and as soon as she saw me up went her head with her beak wide open and calling for food, she ate readily and lots and lots of it, it was a great moment that I will never forget in fact it brought tears to my eyes. She got much stronger over the course of that day so we made an appointment to see Steve our vet the next morning. Her leg was indeed broken but had started to heal, Steve advised that even though her foot was twisted to the right that it would be best to leave it alone as all the tendons were still in tact and she could open and close the foot, he felt that she would adapt and compensate for the disability which she has. We called her misfit because that's what she seemed to be, Misfit and me have become very close and deeply in love with each other, she really is great fun and loves nothing more than to terrorise our dogs and chase after them and rip hair from their tails, It amazes me that a tiny disabled magpie can lord it over 4 dogs, fantastic.

But whilst all this was going on just a couple of days after being brought Misfit a lady turned up at our door with another tiny little magpie in much the same state as Misfit but thankfully minus the broken leg, we went through pretty much the same routine as with Misfit and the new arrival recovered well but of course was much quicker on her legs so we called her Quickfit. They both shared a cage together in my office and have now been moved into the living room where they come out to play nearly every night, they are truly marvellous birds and full of intelligence, and obviously very happy with their lives.

JD the Jackdaw (a little miracle)

It was only a few days after getting the magpies that I got a call from a chap called Steve who had visited us with a friend of his Trevor Smith from Blue Screen Products. They had come to see us about some possible film work for some of our ravens and to come and see the rest of our birds. Steve had found a young Jackdaw over in High Wycombe near where he lives, Steve thought that he just wasn't quite right, and seemingly far to tame for his own good and not flying away when he went near. He had also noticed that he wasn't using his right leg properly and seemed to have an offset beak, Steve caught him up and took him home to keep an eye on him, put him in a small enclosure and left him food and water. After a day he noticed the jackdaw was drinking but not eating, he was playing with his food but not consuming any. It was decided that he would be brought to us to see if we could get him eating and try to establish what was going on.

When he arrived he seemed fairly ok but quite dazed and confused we couldn't get him to take any food and if we tried to touch his beak he violently shook his head and was not having it. Dan and I decided that we would have to force feed him as he had had no food for at least a couple of days. Steve had to go and we said we would persist with him, after a couple of hours he suddenly went downhill fast I got him straight out of the cage, he was dying in my hands, he had gone all floppy and limp and was shaking as if having a fit he was also having spasms. I called for help and Helen came to assist, she forced his beak open and I pushed food right down his throat and almost in his belly and then magic water to wash it down. We did this several times in about a minute and he was still alive but only just hanging in there. We sat him on a hot water bottle and propped him up with towels on both sides so that he couldn't topple over, we repeated this process several times and early into the following morning before we dared leave him to sleep. Myself and Bod (one of our helpers and a lodger) got up in the middle of the night to feed him again. We had a very similar episode the following morning and he very nearly died in my hands again, after much struggling and force feeding we managed to stabilise him. It was clear that his jaw was broken and that he just couldn't eat, his lower beak was bent well to one side and he was obviously in pain every time he moved it. This of course meant that it hurt him like crazy every time we fed him it was a desperate and painful situation for him and us, it was terrible to have to cause him pain to keep him alive. We made an appointment with the vet and took him there to see what could be done if anything.

There was nothing that could be done in fact Steve wasn't very hopeful for his survival as he had now associated pain with food, he felt that he may never eat again. It was decided that we would crack on with him for a couple of weeks. It seemed to go on and on every two hours we went through the same process, it was pretty grim indeed. JD as he was by now called (we figured that when we get another jackdaw we could call him Coke, JD&Coke) was looking and acting much better and moving around on his perches very well, but he could not eat for himself. We took him back to the vet after the two weeks was up, half expecting the worst, his beak had straightened a bit but there was still the pain every time he moved it, it was agreed that we would give him another day as it was not fair to let him carry on like this. Shelley and me were very solemn on the way home, surely we couldn't give up after all this? When we got him home we got him out of the carrier and sat him on Shelley's arm and we pleaded with him to try and eat, Shelley offered him some mincemeat and he put his head down picked up the meat and promptly swallowed it, we nearly fainted but didn't have time to because we were jumping around the room shouting yes yes yes, its fair to say we were extremely happy. JD didn't look back after that he started eating for England.

Now JD was using his beak it began to straighten even more and is now completely normal. He has turned into a fantastic bird full of character and mischief, he gets very jealous when any of the other birds are getting attention, he is completely tame and loves human company. He has taken to sucking fingers for comfort, he really is quite funny. Its as if he has a distant memory of having his beak forced open and a finger being inserted to push food down his throat and somehow in his mind he has turned this experience into something comforting even though it used to hurt him. JD can never be released as he is far to tame and I believe he would die without his human mates, he gives so much love that it is staggering. We all love him dearly, he now lives in the living room next to the magpies as my office was getting over crowded. For a while my office had 4 ravens, 3 magpies 2 crows and a jackdaw, it was mad and extremely hard to get any work done. On reflection though it seemed cruel to keep JD going at the time, but it has been well worth it as he has turned into one of the best birds that I have ever had the privilege of knowing.

Pidge and Skipper two young Pigeons

We had a call from a lady that had found a pigeon with a bad leg that wasn't looking well at all, we agreed to take him in and she brought him over to us, I prepared a small enclosure in our shed, when they arrived it was clear that this was a very young Rock Dove with a very painful leg. At first we thought that the leg was broken but on closer inspection we found some cotton type material wrapped very tightly round the leg, it was so tight that that the skin was growing back over it, it was no doubt restricting the blood flow to the whole leg. We very carefully exposed the cotton and just managed to slip some scissors under it to cut it, once off the leg slowly started to improve until eventually was back to normal. Pidge as so named by the lady who found him became very tame, but as his pain subsided he became more and more scatty as if he wanted his freedom back, we decided that he was well enough and as there was no shortage of food in our garden we released him, we still see him feeding from time to time in the garden so we know he is doing well, Pidge was a particularly beautiful bird and I became very fond of him.

Shortly after Pidge was released we had a call from the lady who found Quickfit the magpie, this time she had rescued a baby pigeon who was being attacked by magpies, she brought him over, he was pretty battered and very young but didn't seem to have any permanent damage, I made an enclosure for him just outside our patio doors and in he went. I wasn't sure if he was to young to feed himself so I put all manner of seed and other food in and sat back and watched, within a few minutes he was happily feeding away which was great news, we kept the now named Skipper (it was written on the box he came in) until he was recovered from his battering, I had decided that it was time to release him in a couple of days but he pre-empted me and made his own bid for freedom and got it. I know that he is doing ok because I see him hanging around the village from time to time.

I feel quite strongly about the bad reputation that pigeons have with the general public, they are regarded as pests which I find incredible, it seems people have very short memories, there were over 250,000 of these birds that were killed in action helping our troops in the 1st world war, and it is thought that every pigeon around today is related to the surviving birds that were released after the war was over. Even the royal family showed up for the big ceremonial release of these birds and 32 of them were awarded medals for bravery in action, how on earth can they be regarded as pests?

Woody the Woodpecker

A couple of days after Skipper made his bid for freedom we had a call from a lady in Winkfield who had just rescued a Greater spotted Woodpecker from a cats mouth. I asked her to bring him over ASAP as he would urgently need some antibiotics if the skin had been pierced, when they arrived the poor little chap was very stressed and was not looking to bright, we had a very close look over him and could not find and piercings on his skin, one of his wings was not folding properly so it looked as if he had suffered some muscle damage in his struggle with the Cat, I put him in the enclosure that Skipper had been in and hung up some peanut feeders and gave him lots of things that he could climb around on, he was feeding well and beginning to use the wing more and more, after a couple of weeks he was happily flying around his enclosure so we decided to take him back to where he was found to release him, his mum and dad and brothers and sisters were all still living there and as far as we know he is still doing well.

Clawdicus the Magpie

Gary, one of our lodgers as he was leaving the house one morning noticed a young magpie sitting just outside the door, he noticed that he didn't seem right and that he didn't fly away as he walked past. A few of us went out to catch him to see what was wrong, it was a bit tricky as there is a busy road just outside our drive so we had to be very carful that he didn't run into the road, we managed to catch him ok. On inspection we noticed that his right wing and shoulder looked smashed and he had some very deep wounds on his shoulder and under the wing and the wounds smelled horrible, they were obviously very badly infected, we got him onto antibiotics straight away and made a call to Steve the vet. Nothing could be done for the wing and shoulder and Steve suggested that once the infection was clear that the wing should be amputated as it was hanging so low, we made an appointment for a weeks time to have the surgery done. We were humming and haring about this operation because in our experience a damaged wing is better than none at all. Ernie one of our rooks had had a wing amputated prior to us getting him and if he ever falls from the perch he never lands on his feet, but our other rooks who kept their respective broken wings though they cannot fly they can at least land on their feet. We decided that he should keep his wing and rang Steve to explain, Steve was ok with it as the wing could be taken off at any time if it proves to be to much of a problem for him. Clawdicus now lives in an aviary with Magster and Luckster and is doing very well indeed, he will of course never fly again but he gets around fine and can land on his feet even from quite high, he got the name Clawdicus because the most likely cause of his injuries was deemed to be a bird of prey or a cat.

   Steve & Shelley Burns 2007

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