Sunday 8 July 2012

Close Encounter Of The Bird Kind

I was going to go to the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show today. In the end I was still in bed at midday and decided it would be a waste of money to go. We had a late lunch, and at about 3:30 I was settling down for an afternoon nap when Paul shouted through from the bedroom that there was a baby bird on the ground outside. He'd just noticed it and thought it might have fallen from its nest.

I grabbed my gardening gloves and went out onto the front drive to investigate. I'm very good at leaving fledglings alone (the exception being the dumbass robin that flew into our bedroom three years ago), but it was clear this baby was much too young to be a fledgling. At this point Paul was doing a much better job of flapping around than the baby - it was lying on its back in clear distress.

So I picked it up and examined it. It was a wood pigeon, and only a few days old. On its left flank it had a large angry-looking contusion, and there was a smaller one on its left wing. I saw a single blood droplet but it didn't appear to be bleeding from anywhere. It did a good job of trying to peck my fingers, so there was hope.

We got it into a box lined with paper shreddings, and closed over the lid a little. Then I phoned the RSPCA. I feel for the people who operate the helpline, who must get a lot of calls from do-gooders picking up fledglings all over the place, but this was demonstrably a nestling. I think the operator and I had different ideas on what constituted feathers, and perhaps referring to down and pin feathers wasn't a great move on my part. Fortunately, the fact that it was injured and breathing heavily trumped any semantics on its stage of development, so a field officer was called.

So I spent an hour this afternoon sitting in the bathroom with a heater on, watching a little spiky ball of fury breathing. The officer arrived and promptly referred to it at as fledgling (!), but he agreed that it was injured, and he took the bird away to the welfare centre. I don't know if the bird will be treated or humanely put down, but either will be better than leaving it to bleed out internally on the drive or at the mercy of the neighbourhood cats...


  1. MischievousBastard9 July 2012 at 18:28

    There were a fledgling pigeon crashed into the Shakeaway while I was in there, hurt its' wing. Worst place for it to crash as they couldn't stop people trampling about or turn the bloody music down (it was assaulting my eardrums and I'm a stage tech, it must've been horrible for the bird), and they wouldn't let me put some rubber gloves on and bed it down in back because the RSPB (who were going to be three hours) had said not to move or handle it unless necessary. Poor thing were going mental. Bloody shambles.

  2. I have a small amount of sympathy for the organisations (RSPB, RSPCA etc), as they must deal with a lot of morons who think they know what they're doing. But I wish they'd accept that there are some people who actually do know what they're doing. If I was one of the operators though, and had someone phone and say "I have a nestling wood pigeon with swelling and a contusion wound on its left flank. It's clearly fallen out of its nest, and only has pin feathers and down", then even if I didn't know a lot about birds myself I might be prepared to think that maybe the caller did...


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