Wednesday, 30 October 2019

Sparrowhawk Kills Angie and Bluey !

Being a bird Rehabber, able to rescue and return to the wild a sick or injured bird, can be extremely rewarding. However, the opposite can also be heart breaking. 

Yesterday was a real downer for me when I discovered Angie the injured wood pigeon dead in the aviary. I had been treating her for the past 5 weeks and she was flying and progressing well.

She had been killed in the aviary by a Sparrowhawk who had also killed and taken Bluey, a feral pigeon with a broken wing that I had kept safe for the past 3 years. 

                       Incredibly the Sparrowhawk had entered the Aviary by getting between overlapping wooden Slats that were barely an inch and half apart. It was able to kill and take Bluey from the floor of the aviary up and out through the slats, leaving only a trail of feathers showing the route.
I have 2 aviaries which are only used for sick, injured, or orphaned birds. Disco the Mallard duck with a broken wing uses one of them and has been shaken up by the experience. She would have witnessed the Sparrowhawk killing both Pigeons and has been reluctant to leave her aviary ever since.

The Sparrowhawk has gotten into one of the aviary's before, when the door was open and there were no occupants, witness the Photo I took before it was able to escape. 
This time of year always seems to favour the Sparrowhawks, as the leaves disappear and expose plenty of targets for them.
Having fixed Angie's broken wing successfully I am particularly vexed at her sad and premature demise. 

Monday, 28 October 2019

Swans Christmas Calendar

Last reminder to everyone about the River Nairn Swans and Waterfowl Trust 2020 Calendar. 

Most of them have now been sold, but a few remaining around the Town. 

They can still be purchased from The Gift Pearl shop, The Nairn book shop, and Strachans. There will be no further print runs this year.

All the profits go to the upkeep of the River birds. A very nice inexpensive Christmas present for the family !

Thursday, 24 October 2019

Good Nutrition

After 15 years observing and caring for our river waterfowl, It's great to see them in such good condition.

Despite being a shallow, fast flowing spate river, often devoid of natural feeding, the efforts of the Trust feeding regime has ensured we have a very healthy population of waterfowl - which shows in the condition of the birds.

At this time of year, the Trust provides a weekly ration of 95kg of wheat grain, mixed wild bird seed, and poultry pellets, for our 200 birds.

Small amounts of Wholemeal bread and dried mealworm is also given to Penny, Duke and the ducklings.

White bread has no nutritional value, as the protein has been removed during processing.

During the Summer, pulled fresh grass and dandelion leaves are eaten by the swans, along with natural river weed, and seaweed on the shoreline. 
I would happily compare the condition of our healthy waterfowl with any others - anywhere in the country !

Tuesday, 15 October 2019

Swans Challenge

That time of year again when new pairs start to seek out new partners, and new territories. One of the best Autumn days of the year, blue skies, warm sunshine and no wind.

Two new Swans entered the river, encroaching on Penny and Dukes home territory - a challenge that had to be met. 

Was all very civilised, Penny and duke calmly escorted them back out to Sea, no blows were needed.
Meanwhile the last ducklings are half grown, and I have an Oliver duckling - forever tugging at my trouser leg asking for more at feeding time. It is persistent and adorable, giving me a laugh every time, short clip below.


Friday, 11 October 2019

Angie In The Aviary

Having bandaged Angie the young Woodpigeons wing for a further week, I felt confident enough to remove it and transfer her to the Aviary. 

The Wing is now fused for good or ill, and can only hope it gets used enough to be able to eventually release her into the wild.

She can currently fly enough to take off from the ground and land on a perch. She has several broken feathers and most of her tail feathers still missing, otherwise she is in fine health.

She shares the Aviary with Bluey, a male feral pigeon with a broken wing that I've had for 3 years, he is confined to the ground, but allowed outside to mingle with the pigeon visitors.
Meanwhile Angie enjoys TLC and is partial to black sunflower seeds, served up in an egg cup...short video below.

Monday, 7 October 2019

Injured Duck Family Success

Entering their 7th week, the previously injured duck that was nesting on the swans island, has been one of the most successful breeders on the lower river this year. 

She has managed to save 7 out of the 10 hatched on the 24th of August. All the more amazing, as she could not walk at one stage and was forever sitting down or standing on one leg. Nesting late in the season seems to be catching on with some ducks, and these are often the most successful. 

More cover, more food, less predation and warmer weather, all have a positive effect on their success rate. 

Today she was relaxing after a good feed at the bridge with her 7 ducklings and her mate close by. She and her mate are both moulting, and their new feather growth is timed to coincide with the ducklings full feather growth as well, in another month or so, she will let the ducklings go fend for themselves.

Friday, 4 October 2019

Pigeon Progress

After 2 weeks treatment I decided to remove the wing bandage from the young Woodpigeon to check the condition of the break. It looked reasonable enough, but the joint was thicker than the other wing.
This was to be expected, as the bone heals it forms a callus over the break. The problem is, the break was right at the wing joint where three bones meet, the Ulna , the Radius, and the Carpometacarpus. 
The worst possible place for a wing fracture, as the movement and flexibility of this joint is essential for flight. I could see the wing was drooping slightly, but still clearing the floor at least. As I observed the bird, it suddenly decided to take off from the table, flew about 6 feet and crash landed on the floor!

That was yesterday, today I let it wander around the kitchen and again it decided to take off, this time from the floor and landed on a shelf successfully ! 
I don't want to get too excited about this as the flight was anything but smooth, but nevertheless it was flying. Bearing in mind it has lost almost all it's tail feathers, and these will take a few weeks to grow back, and has probably never flown before in any case, I think I can take a positive from todays events.

Will continue with the anti inflammatory medication to try and reduce the swelling at the joint. I don't want it causing any damage by flying too much too soon, so will keep it indoors for a while yet before putting it in the aviary....still keeping the fingers crossed !