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Great Tit Rescue - Need Advice (1 Viewer)

pfodor

New member
Hello everyone,

I have found this forum after searching for a good place to ask for advice regarding a bird rescue - I hope you will be able to help me, as I am completely new to the world of our avian friends.

A few days ago I have rescued a great tit who climbed into the radiator from outside of the house, and have gotten himself injured. The feathers on his wings and tail were burned, but otherwise he seems to be unharmed, but as a result is unable to fly. As there are no bird rescue missions in my vicinity, I have consulted with a local vet, who checked the bird and also opined that other than his feathers, he seems to be unharmed, and said that the tit cannot be returned to the wild in his current state. We have decided that the best course of action for now would be to nurture him through the winter and see how his recovery goes.

As there are not a whole lot of resources about this sort of thing, understandably, we are talking about a wild bird, I would like to ask for advice on how to make sure that he will have the best chances of recovery and the least stressful experience.

He currently lives in about a 3x3x2 feet (H-W-D) cage where we provided him with food, water, perches, and a little foliage. He is eating, drinking, and pooping without problem, chirps a little in the morning and noonish, sleeps through the night, so he seems to be physically healthy, although I'm a little concerned about his mental health. Other than sleeping, he seems to be exploring the cage or sitting and looking around, however, at times, he seems to be trying to escape, jumping at the grills of the cage repeatedly and poking or knocking on the cage with his beak. I fear that he might injure himself this way, especially after further recovery when he'll be able to fly a little. On one occasion he even caught his legs between the grills, and couldn't escape without my help. I have put a few branches near his "favorite" jumping spots to somehow make it harder for him to jump with full force and hurt himself. Is this a serious sign or is it to be expected from wild birds and is something that he has to live with through his recovery? Also, I don't know how he deals with being isolated from his kind, and while he can hear birds outside, I'm not sure that it is enough for him. Is there anything I can do to comfort him? Should I even try to interfere somehow or is it better to just let him be? Lastly, I would like to ask for tips on the placement and furnishing of the bird cage, where would be the best place to put it and what things should I put in there to make him happier? Is it better to organize his food in a little bowl or is it more natural to just spread it around the ground? Does he need a bird bath? I have probably missed some things, just wanted to ask a more experienced community for advice on how to make this recovery the least stressful experience and give him the best chances of being able to return to the wild as soon as possible. Any advice regarding my questions or other relevant ideas are greatly appreciated.

Thanks for your help,
P

EDIT: I have realized that I might not have posted this in the correct thread, if anyone could point me in the correct direction, I would really appreciate it.
 
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MTem

Well-known member
First off well done for taking all this time and trouble. What you have done already sounds to be quite well considered and thoughtful.

If it is the main flight feathers that are damaged then as far as I know Great tit's will normally replace these post-breeding in Jul-Oct, so you might have a long wait. That said I think birds replace damaged or missing feathers as soon as they can muster the energy to do so. Hopefully someone more experienced on this matter will contribute.

You are right isolation is not a good thing, and containment will be stressful, but both are better than its situation had you not intervened. As long as it continues to eat drink and 'poop' then all should be well. As you have noticed small birds like this tend to rest when it's dark, so covering the cage completely or in part for periods is a good way of keeping it unstressed. Obviously this needs to be removed long enough each day for it to feed/drink/wash/preen - about 6 hrs should be enough, but again more experienced advice would be good.

Even if there are no wildlife rehab places near you I would suggest you contact one by phone or e mail for advice, and possible transfer/collection as undoubtedly the bird would be better placed with them.

Hope this helps/reassures a bit, and that more experienced help arrives. You might want to post on one of the aviculturist forums where folk experienced with keeping birds in captivity (sadly!) might add more detailed suggestions.

Again good on you for trying!

Mick
 

pfodor

New member
First of all, thanks for all the help, it was all really useful and improved the bird's quality of life significantly. I hoped that I never had to write this post, but I feel that I need to share what happened. After noticing that he became a lot more clumsy and got stuck numerous times in the cage bars in a way that he could only escape with my help, I saw that his legs were seriously injured. I managed to track down an avian specialist and drove the poor guy to him - apparently the injury happened when he got burned and blood circulation was cut off in most of his legs, his system just kept it somehow functioning for a few weeks before it gave up. According to the vet, the reason he got stuck so often was because he couldn't control his legs anymore, and the bars didn't cause the injury, it was the other way around. Eventually he would have lost both of his legs and wouldn't have been able to return to the wild or live a somewhat tolerable life. The vet advised that the most humane thing was to put him to sleep before he started to feel excruciating pain. I have buried him under (what I assumed was) his favorite tree, and if there's a birdie heaven, I hope he gets all the seeds he wants - the little fighter certainly deserves it.

So once again thanks for commenting and helping me, all your tips really helped his situation for what little time he had left, and while we didn't spend a lot of time together, I really grew attached to him, I am really bummed it turned out this way. All I can do now is help his friends get through the winter with some food, and I'll definitely install a tighter mesh, and I advise those who read this to do the same if you have a heating exhaust with even just a bird-size opening to the outside (just make sure you don't block it and suffocate yourselves). I hope that this thread will serve well for future reference to anyone in a similar situation.
 

MTem

Well-known member
Sad outcome, but perhaps inevitable.

As you say a timely reminder to all to check the mesh/screen on your boiler outlet. I'm sure on cold evenings the residual warmth in the flue can attract birds like tits that tend to roost in holes in trees, or roofs, or walls. All is OK until you come home from work and the boiler kicks in .....

Keep up the feeding though .... I'm sure the arrivals will give you great pleasure. Put them close to some cover though (a bush or creeper).

Mick
 

Paul Longland

Well-known member
What a sad story.
Bless you though for trying.

As you say a timely reminder to all that flues and similar are an attractive warm haven for birds in winter, or even as potential nesting sites (I once had starlings nesting in my cooker extractor flue). It is worth checking that they are suitably covered either with a mesh, fluting or automatically closing flap when inoperative that prevents entry.

As Mick says, keep up the feeding, especially during the winter months and you will be well rewarded by the pleasure just watching the comings and goings can bring.
 

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