Wildlife rescues

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Wildlife Updates and Rescuing Baby Birds

Spring is here and Wildlife is brought in nearly every day to our Wildlife Rescue centre – a great many injured birds and hedgehogs. We patch them up and care for them until they are recovered and strong enough to be released back into the wild. If not too badly injured most survive. The little robin brought in recently is doing well and we are hopeful for a full recovery.

Robin rescue

Looking better already.

Wildlife rescue

This little Goldfinch is still in shock after being injured. Its touch and go but we are doing our very best.

bird rescue

We often get asked what to do when you find a baby bird. When you see a baby bird lying helplessly on the floor you have to do something – but what?

If you are certain that the baby bird has been orphaned then you may have no option but to attempt a rescue.  Getting them safe from cats and magpies has to be done quickly. A shoe box or an old hat makes a very good substitute for a nest with soft shredded paper or some hay/straw. Keep the little ones warm until you can bring them down to our Wildlife Rescue centre. If you can bring the bird in to us as soon as possible that gives it the best chance of survival.  Feeding them is a tricky and time consuming job.  We make up special diets depending on the type of bird, chopped up meal worms, finely minced boiled egg and Purina poultry cat food is a good standby.  We use plastic tweezers for song birds and syringes (cut open)  for pigeons and doves. We release back to the wild as soon as they have feathers and can fly.


Duck Quacks Do Echo at the Sanctuary

We recently spotted two new arrivals at the Sanctuary who seem to have become regular visitors. Two ducks were spotted wandering around the Sanctuary the other day and seemed quite at home. They have been back every day to say hello and we have called them Donald and Delores. We are not sure where they came from but we think they must have heard about the animal sanctuary and have decided to join up as Pet Samaritans. They don’t seem to be bothered by all the attention from all the other animals or visitors and make themselves quite at home. We see a lot of wildlife at the Sanctuary and often wild birds we have helped stop by to say hello. Ricky the rook who came to us with an injured leg is never too far away and we often see him picking things up and tidying up around the sheds. He picks up pieces of paper and takes them to the bin for us. He’s quite the character. It’s great to see him back in the wild and doing well.

Ducks at Sanctuary


Hedgehog Hospital Gets A New Unit

Thanks to the kind Pet Samaritans who donated this lovely garden shed, we now have a new and much bigger Hedgehog Hospital. We receive many calls about injured Hedgehogs and do our very best to accomodate them all. If you see a Hedgehog that doesn’t look too well, give us a call and we’ll see if we can help.

Hedgehog Hospital

Looking good.

Bagel is on hand to inspect the work.

Anglo Nubian Goat

Before you pick up a hedgehog, always wear gloves as they can sometimes be covered in Ticks which might be causing them to feel poorly. Ticks can cause Lyme Disease, so it’s better to take precautions when handling them. A cardboard box with air holes and a bit of shredded newspaper is ideal for temporary accomodation if you are planning to bring one into the Sanctuary for nursing. Please give us a call first to make sure someone is on hand to help.

Wild Birds and Insects Need Your Help

March is here and the breeding season for wild birds is just round the corner. The weather is still undecided, so please spare a thought for the wild birds in your garden and remember to top up your bird feeders. Food is in short supply this time of year, so it is especially important to help early starters with supplemental food.

Of course, don’t forget the little wild beasties down in your garden. You can help the insects, bees and of course Mr Toad by providing housing in the shape of wildlife stacks just in time for the onset of spring. Old bricks, clay pots, logs and stones are great for ground inhabitants and garden canes and a bit for straw from the rabbit hutch are great for winged foragers. Why not build an insect hotel in your garden with some old wooden pallets, drain pipe, bits of stone and wooden boxes. Its a great activity to get the kids involved with and you don’t need to speed a lot of money on fancy bug hotels from the shop. Your new friends will reward your kindness by keeping all the summer garden pests under control and help with pollination of fruit and flowers.

We are going to be building our own insect houses soon at the animal sanctuary, so if you would like to help, please get in touch and ask about our weekend buildathons. We need lots of materials so please give us a call if you have any old items you think might be of use. And please send us your designs, show us your pictures and tell us about the wildlife where you live. We’ll feature the best ones on our website and send out pet samaritans badges to the winners.

Here’s some inspiration from around the net that caught our eye.
This beautiful wild bee house was photographed in the Black Forest, Germany – thanks NiftyHomestead.com for sharing this wonderful image.

Fancy Bug House


Craft Hubs has also sorts of great DIY bug houses and hotels for the wild beasties. This one caught our eye to show what can be done with a few objects you probably have lying around your garden. For more great ideas check out the crafthubs blog.

Simple bug house for insects

Finally, when its time to go posh, this ultimate insect house hotel from pinterest really shows what can be done.

Ultimate Bug House

Grey heron brought in with injured leg

birds - heron - 1

He’s a beautiful bird but it’s touch and go whether this heron will make it.  He has what looks like a break on the middle of his leg and he can’t put weight on it.  The other leg is fine and he can stand up alright.   He’s a grey heron, a species that is widespread through the U.K.

They are picturesque birds, it’s a superb to catch a glimpse of them standing in the water’s edge.  They eat all kinds of voles and mice and fish and stand motionless to catch their prey – they have a lot of patience.

Herons are good ratters and will wait for a rat to come out and then pounce, a lightning strike and they have him – tossed up in the air and swallowed whole.

Let’s hope the vet can save the leg and we can get him back to health and release him.

What to do when you find a baby bird


Unless you are convinced the baby bird has been abandoned by his parents or is in imminent danger it’s best to leave the little one where it is.  Babies do flutter out of the nest and wait a while to get their feathers and their parents will not come to it while you are around.

Sometimes picking the baby up and putting it on the inside branches of a bush is the best course of action.  Hopefully, cats won’t be able to get to it and it will have the instinct to keep fluttering higher and higher.

Putting the baby bird back in the nest (if you can find it) doesn’t usually work, it will just flutter out again.  Parent birds will come and feed even if on the ground if you leave well alone.

Your scent won’t put the parents off, they will find their baby by the noise he makes.  You may not see the parents, they won’t come out while you are around but will locate and fetch their offspring when you are out of the area.

If you are certain that the baby bird has been orphaned then you may have no option but to attempt a rescue.   A box with high sides is best, make a nest inside, with dried grass, hay or shredded soft paper – kitchen towels are perfect.

The nest should be baby bird size, it needs to be soft and so the little one can feel secure.   If you can bring the bird in to us as soon as possible that gives it the best chance of survival.  Keeping them warm is essential and feeding them is an expert and time consuming job.  We make up special diets depending on the type of bird, chopped up meal worms, finely minced boiled egg and Purina poultry cat food is a good standby.  We use plastic tweezers for song birds and syringes (cut open)  for pigeons and doves.

A nestling with eyes closed will need feeding every 15 to 20 minutes.  If his eyes are open and there are signs of feathers, you will still have to feed every 30 minutes.  It’s not until the baby is hopping around that you can spread the feeds out to every hour.

Avoiding stress is one of the most important factors in the survival of these fragile little lives so keeping them quiet and in natural (but not bright) light is best for them.

We’re open every day between 10.0am and 4.0pm – please ring direct to the sanctuary – 01246 455777 –  to let us know if you are on your way.

Hedgehogs are waking up

hedgehogs - Womble Hello Mr. Womble!  He’s had a good winter sleep and now he’s waking up and he’s hungry.   After a good feed Womble went back into his nest, the weather isn’t quite warm enough yet for a complete abandonment of hibernation.  Some of the others who stayed with us are also stirring, the rest are still asleep. We’ve been putting a big dish of food out for the last month or so, hedgehogs are nocturnal so we don’t always know who is eating it.

If you have hedgehogs in your garden please put food out for them, the last weeks of hibernation are critical.  They need enough energy and body fat to survive till the spring finally comes.   Cat food is good (chicken not fish), also sunflower seeds or special hedgehog food.   A big dish of clean water is appreciated but not milk as it isn’t digestible for them.

Our hedgehogs have wintered in several nests of hay and leaves, all quite close to each other.  When the weather finally turns warm they’ll be up and away.  Not to find friends and family though, hedgehogs are solitary creatures unless they are looking for a mate.

Injured little dove

birds - little dove 2Isn’t she beautiful?  This little dove was brought in yesterday.  She has an injured wing and can’t fly.  We’ve made her a cosy nest and she’s snuggled down and survived the night.  The first 24 hours are always critical.   She’s looking good now though and is eating.   She’ll stand up and walk round when she is ready.  It’s slow progress with injured birds, keeping them warm and quiet is the best treatment in the early days.

birds - little dove

Injured duck an amazing rescue

birds - donald duck 2This injured duck has been stuck down a drain for three weeks and is lucky to be alive.  He was seen at the beginning of January by a man walking his dog, but fluttered away and dived down an open drain.   A search proved fruitless, the duck was nowhere to be seen.  It seemed likely he’d been washed away but by an amazing chance, the same gentleman heard a scuffling and a faint ‘quack’ when he walked the same way this weekend.   There was the duck, he’d made it back to the opening and was in reach.   He was hauled out and brought to us, injured but alive after all this time.

He’s in bad shape, with two injuries to one of his wings.   He’s terribly thin and was very glad to have a big drink and some food as soon as he came in.   We’ve patched him up and settled him down in a pen with some hay to keep him warm – and a big dish of water.   Ducks need to dip their beaks in water as often as possible.

He’s a handsome fella and we hope he will soon put weight on and his wounds will heal.   He’s a wild mallard, a mature male with glossy green plumage and when he’s better we’ll release him.  What have we called him?   Donald – not very original but he has a very Disney sort of quack and it suits him!

birds - donald duck 3

birds - donald duck 4

Birds - donald duck

Merlin is making progress


birds - merlin 7Merlin, our rescued Barn Owl, is making good progress.  When he first came in he flopped down on his side and couldn’t stand, now he’s on his feet all the time.  We used to prop him up in a corner of his pen, now it’s good to see him upright and managing to move around even though it’s only a little bit.   Apart from being very thin and light, he has a damaged wing, although we are hoping it’s an injury that will heal.   His feet have the most damage, one worse than the other.   This week was a breakthrough though and for the first time he put his talons on his perch (which is on the ground so that he doesn’t fall off it).  He must be feeling better to do that.

Merlin is eating well, intelligent and knows us, he hasn’t started ‘clicking’ to us yet but he is calm with us when we’re feeding him and cleaning him out.   If a stranger comes near him it’s wide eyes and panic mode though!   He is an amazing work of nature, beautiful colouring as you can see from the feathers on his back.

We still have to get him up to weight and although he is eating well now, it’s slow progress.

birds - merlin 8