Registered Charity No. 1228
Registered Charity No. 1228

Case Studies

When we got a call about five starling nestlings that had been illegally evicted from their nest in a vent and thrown to the ground, we rushed to collect them and found that one had a badly broken leg. Luckily Strand Veterinary Practice was able to splint the leg, and once it had healed the bird was soft-released with his four siblings. 

This jackdaw nestling fell from his nest at a riding stable and was very cold and dehydrated when he arrived. We warmed him up, carefully gave him rehydration fluids every 30 minutes based on his weight and when he came round and started gaping we started feeding him formula every 30 minutes. We kept him in a nest bowl with two other baby jackdaws until he was old enough to leave the nest, and then they were put in a cage together. We continued hand-feeding them every 30 - 60 minutes until they could feed themselves from bowls, and then moved them into an outdoor release aviary. After a few weeks the hatch was opened and they were soft-released back into the wild, but kept returning to the aviary for food  for several weeks.  

This juvenile gannet was found on a beach. He still had baby fluff so had only recently left the nest, and he was emaciated and exhausted and only weighed about half of what he should, at 1.4kg. After being fed up up on sardines and mackerel, he spent some time regaining fitness in a large outdoor pool and when he was completely waterproof and hit his target weight of 3.2kg he was released off a beach. 

 

Watch a video showing his rehabilitation here.

This pigeon squab (named Donna) was blown from his nest in a clock tower during a storm. Donna was found cold and wet in a puddle next to her dead sibling, who was killed by the fall. We revived Donna in an incubator and gave her fluids through a tube into her crop until she was strong enough to be fed formula. Her breathing was very rapid and she had trouble digesting at first and we feared internal injuries would kill her, but she grew stronger every day. Once she was feeding herself she was moved into a soft-release aviary with other pigeons and then released. 

 

Watch a video about her rehabilitation here

This juvenile long-tailed tit was caught by a cat and had a wing injury that meant he was unable to fly.  He spent a couple of weeks on cage-rest, then was moved into a release aviary and once we were happy with his flight he was soft-released. 

This redshank was found very weak and with a bad neck wound and a ruptured air-sac. Our vet stapled the wound and one of our rehabilitators took the bird home, put him in an incubator and drew off the air from the ruptured air sac with a sterile needle and syringe every few hours until it healed. When he was stronger and had had the staples removed by the vet, he was moved into an outside aviary to build up his strength again. When he was ready he was released back at Langness where he was found. 

This blackcap was brought in by a cat as a nestling and taken to the MSPCA, who asked us to collect him for hand-rearing. We treated him for puncture wounds and a ruptured airsac. We didn’t have any other blackcaps to put him with, but he became firm friends with a young Great Tit. When they were weaned and catching their own live insects, they  were moved into a release aviary and soft-released together after two weeks. 

A member of the public brought us five young swallows whose nest had collapsed. One of our rehabilitators warmed and hydrated them, and then began feeding them live insects every 20 - 30 minutes from dawn until dusk. Once they could fly and feed themselves they were moved into a lined aviary, and after two weeks when a spell of good weather was forecast, the release hatch was opened and all five siblings were released. 

A member of the public was sunbathing in her garden during a heatwave when a sparrow nestling suddenly jumped from a nest in the roof above her. As she picked him up and wondered what to do, another jumped out! She brought them to one of our rehabilitators, who could immediately tell from their wrinkled skin, sunken eyes and unresponsiveness that they were suffering from life-threatening dehydration. They were revived by being given special rehydration fluids in amounts based on their weight with a crop needle every 20 - 30 minutes, then they were gradually started on dilute formula. After a few days they were well-hydrated and digesting food normally again and they were hand-reared and weaned with the rest of our nestlings, then soft-released from one of our aviaries with other sparrows. 

A guillemot was found lying on a beach, too weak to stand. He was emaciated, hypothermic and had lost a lot of feathers from his head and neck. After being warmed in an incubator he was given rehydration fluids with a stomach tube, and began eating small fish by himself. He gradually regained strength and began regrowing his feathers, and was put in a warm bath once or twice a day to wash and preen himself. Once he was fully feathered, waterproof and had gained weight again he was moved into an outdoor pool to build up his fitness, and he was released a month after he arrived. 

 

Watch a video showing his rehabilitation here

A fulmar chick was found alone on a beach in 2018 and taken to the MSPCA, who passed him on to us. We couldn’t find anything in the literature about hand-rearing fulmars as they rarely come into rescue, so we had to read some studies about their habits in the wild to work out what to feed him, how much to feed him, how often, how quickly he should be gaining weight and so on. Once he was fully feathered he spent some time in an outdoor aviary with a pool, then he was hard-released from a beach. 

 

Watch a video of his rehabilitation here.

A gardener cutting a hedge accidentally exposed a blackbird nest with two young chicks. When the parents had not returned after a few hours, he brought them to us. They were cold and dehydrated after being exposed for so long, but one of our rehabilitators managed to revive them in an incubator with tiny, frequent doses of rehydration fluids. They grew into healthy fledglings and once they were weaned they were moved into a release aviary, then soft-released back into the wild. 

This eider duckling was brought to us in 2018 by a member of the public who found him on a beach being pecked by crows, who had already pulled a lot of his fluff out. Once we revived him in an incubator he was very agitated and kept calling for his mother and throwing himself at the incubator door, and it took some coaxing to get him to start eating. He wanted to be held and stroked and would become upset and agitated again when returned to his incubator. One of our volunteers was raising some mallard ducklings for us and although he needed the company, an eider duck is a sea duck and has completely different dietary needs to a mallard so raising them together was not an option. Luckily, a couple of days later someone brought us an oystercatcher chick and the eider duckling soon adopted the oystercatcher chick as his surrogate mother and followed her everywhere. 

 

We had never raised an eider duckling before and contacted other organisations such as St. Tiggywinkles for advice, but they had never raised one either! So we researched their diet and behaviour in the wild and started him on a diet of live mealworms, insectivore food, chopped mussels, limpets, periwinkles plus a vitamin and mineral supplement. Once they had grow a bit bigger and stronger he and the oystercatcher were moved out of the incubator into a rabbit cage, then a pen outdoors with a kiddy pool to swim in, then a large enclosed garden with an above-ground filtered pool to swim in. We fed the eider duckling by putting his mussels in the pool so he had to dive underwater and find them, replicating what he would need to do in the wild. Once his feathers had finished growing in we released him into a harbour where a large crèche group of wild eider ducks were, and they accepted him into their midst without a problem. The volunteers who raised him continued to look out for him and throw food for him when they spotted him in the harbour, and after a few months he started to moult into his white adult plumage. 

 

Watch a video of his rehabilitation here.

This oystercatcher chick was found drowning in the sea by a couple who spotted her from the beach. They rescued her and brought her to us. She was cold and unresponsive but came round after being warmed up in an incubator and given fluids. We put her with the our eider duckling and they became firm friends. We fed her on mussels, limpets and other crustaceans so could learn how to remove them from their shells. When she was fully feathered we gave her the run of the garden and she spent time with an adult oystercatcher we were caring for at the time who couldn’t fly, and watched his technique with great interest when he removed limpets form their shells! She started taking test flights in the garden and gradually started spending more and more time gone until one day she didn’t return. The garden isn’t far from the sea and other oystercatchers regularly flew over it so we assume she teamed up with them and stopped coming back for food when she didn’t need to any more. 

 

Watch a video of her growing up with the eider duck here.

This Herring Gull was found sitting by the side of a road smeared in blood by kind passers-by, who stopped and took him the Arg Beiyn Veterinary Practice, who x-rayed him. He had been clipped by a car and had a badly bruised leg and a broken wingtip. The staff at Arg Beiyn taped his wing up to keep the fracture aligned, prescribed pain relief and asked us to collect him and look after him for two weeks while his wing healed. 

This young feral pigeon was found with most of his scalp missing and the skull exposed. The vet who saw him vet recommended we euthanise him as she didn’t think the scalp would ever heal, but we knew that with enough time birds can make full recoveries from injuries like this and did not want to have him euthanised. New flesh and skin gradually grew from the edges of the wound until it had completely healed up, and then new feathers sprouted from the edges too.  He was moved into a soft-release aviary with other pigeons and 12 weeks after he first came into our care he was soft-released back to the wild. 

A tiny baby sparrow (we call them jellybeans at this age because that’s what they look like!) was dropped by another bird and picked up by a member of the public, who called us. We kept him in an incubator at 35 degrees and fed him every 20 minutes at first, and gradually reduced the temperature as he grew. When he fledged he was moved into a cage with other fledgling sparrows, and when they were feeding themselves they were moved into a release aviary and soft-released after two weeks.

 

See a video of him being fed as a jellybean and as a fledgling here

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