Wednesday, July 30, 2014

A bird in the hand...

This is not going to be the blog update I had originally intended but, I just wanted to share this and then the 'other' one will be along very soon...

There's a regular circular walk that I take locally, it starts from home and follows footpaths, meadows and some arable land before crossing a small stream that links back to the house. Yesterday was a beautiful day here in the south of the U.K. and I'd been thoroughly enjoying this particular walk. I was only a short hop from home when distracted from watching a fox making its way across the corn field by a loud rustling and fluttering at ankle level.

It was in the low vegetation beside the footpath and I soon saw what was making all the noise...

It was this little fledgling that had somehow managed to injure itself. It was flapping violently but the resulting movement was just round and round in circles. It couldn't fly and kept falling on to its back, with its head at a very strange angle, almost flopping backwards over its back.

It seemed to be in a bad way and in need of some help. I waited around for a while to see if the parents were close-by or maybe calling it but there was no sign of them and this little one was really distressed. I decided to take it home and see if I could allow it to recover in peace and maybe even encourage it to eat; it was asking for food when I picked it up and I had no idea how long it had been there.

And so I emptied my camera bag and carefully placed the bird inside, then headed for home as quickly as possible without wishing to scare the little one. What to feed was the next problem. I settled it in a safe and quiet spot whilst I looked on the internet for some clues as to what species it might be. I narrowed it down to a couple of choices; that is, choices based on very little, as fledglings are very tricky to identify with any degree of certainty. Siskin was a possibility but I thought that a closer match was Yellowhammer.

If that was correct, then I really needed to double my efforts to try and ensure its survival-the yellowhammer has suffered a decline in recent years to the point where it has now become a red-listed (endangered) species.

I couldn't find any relevant advise on food for such a youngster but remembered that once before when I had a small fledgling, the local sanctuary advised me to feed it on small amounts of scrambled egg! Being the cordon bleu chef I undoubtedly am, I had some knocked up in no time. The bird didn't seem to be interested in feeding now though, I did my best to persuade it over the next few hours but it steadfastly refused to even try a tiny piece  of my offering. 

I suppose it must have been about 10pm when I returned it to its make-shift home for the night with a little food and dish of water and turned out the lights. I wasn't at all hopeful, it seemed so weak and its movements were worrying too. I fully expected to find this morning that it had passed away in the night but I had done all I could and maybe, it now needed to be left alone to recover?

At around 6am this morning I was steeling myself for the worst as I walked the short distance to where the birdie was housed. Miracle of miracles! Not only was it alive but looking much better and even making efforts to fly a little. When I switched the lights on, it began to chirp at me too. No more falling over, no more head tilting either. I offered food again but still it wasn't interested. I left it for a while and then decided that the best plan would be to return it to where I found it and release the little thing. It seemed ready somehow and much stronger today.

What happened next fills me with joy. I set the beautiful little creature on the ground right close to where I originally spotted it and didn't have to wait long for my reward. It sat for a while, had a quick look around and then took flight for a good distance into the midst of the corn crop...

(You'll need to visit the blog online to see this video)

Not a great video I know but if you look very hard and squint and use your can just about make out it's flight path into the crops. Well I managed to after several views anyhow.

I cribbed a few stills from the video and mashed them together as an animated GIF to allow you to see take-off in slow motion...

I can't tell you how good it feels to be able to give nature a hand in this way and it was such a treat to watch as this tiny bird returned to the wild in a much better state than when I found it.

Until the next time...


  1. Oh WOW JJ!! What a lucky fledgling that you came along and rescued him/her! (S)he would have undoubtedly died if you hadn't. Certainly does look like a Yellowhammer. A privilege to see one so close and as you say, a species even more in need of help.

    Stunning images and lovely little video too! Wonderful!


  2. Awe thanks Maria...yes I think my guess would be a female as the males seem to be a brighter yellow...have more yellow as well? Thanks for sharing my enthusiasm...

  3. Great JJ, its some time hard to know what the best thing is to do, we can't help our self's if we see some thing in distress, and it's great the bird managed to fly of the next day.I think if you had left it, it might not have survived. How beautiful it is to see you photos of the bird close up, it does look quite happy.
    Amanda xx

  4. Thank-you Amanda. Yes, I had to think hard before deciding to....interfere with nature but couldn't bring myself to let it suffer unaided.

  5. Awww what a lovely story with a happy ending - you are a nice guy! Beautiful photos of the little cutie too. Video isn't bad either! ;-)

  6. Thank-you Mandy. It made my day I can tell you ;-)

  7. Nice to know this happy ending story. The little one actually looks quite at home - feeling safe and secure in your hand and in other shots too. Agree, its difficult to decide if intervention is best strategy or not and great that your choice resulted in happy ending.

  8. Thank-you. In fact it was the fact that it let me handle it, that made me decide to bring it home. I knew something was badly wrong if it didn't attempt to get away, even if it was just stunned maybe?


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