Michelle, at Rambling Woods – The Road Less Travelled, is a great source of practical advice in such matters. She posted an article earlier this summer about a study by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology on why birds hit windows, and what you can do to prevent it. Just last week she posted a detailed guide on how to help an injured bird, covering everything from songbirds to raptors!
There’s a lot more to it than meets the eye, if you really want to maximise the chance that a bird will survive you need to know what you are doing with it. Bookmark that page if you think you may ever need to help a bird! Michelle herself seems to be quite a dab hand at helping wildlife, just a day after posting the guide, she and her husband managed to rescue a great blue heron. That’s a 4-foot high bird with a wickedly pointed beak and lightening reactions. Definitely not something I would want to tackle. Well done, Michelle!
I hadn’t read her bird-rescue article when our great tit had his collision, it came out just a day or two after I needed it. But Dweezeljazz and I do know the importance of making sure the bird is safe and warm, while not adding to its stress by handling it if that can be at all avoided. We have cats in our neighbourhood that have been known to come into our terrace, and a stunned bird would be easy pickings for them. It was also a cool day with a fresh breeze, and since the bird wasn’t showing much sign of recovery, we decided we had to try to help it.
I went out and picked him up to keep him warm in my hand. He was conscious, and responded by looking at me, but was happy to stay in my hand. After some time, we decided to bring him indoors and put him in a box so he could recover there. As Michelle points out in her rescue-guide, bringing a bird indoors is perhaps not the best thing to do. If it panics indoors it could injure itself again trying to escape. That’s why we kept the box right by the door, ready to open the door the moment he showed signs of wanting to leave.
He was actually so relaxed on my hand that I didn’t want to force him off, so I stayed there, letting him sit as he wished. I was worried he might have broken a bone because he sat with one leg forwards and one backwards for some time, so I didn’t want to force him to move in case I injured him even more.
Eventually he righted himself on my hand, then a few minutes later he hopped onto the rim of the box. We opened the door, and he flew away. We were both very relieved that he seemed to be OK.
I think we saw him again an hour later. The great tits like to take sunflower seeds and perch on the bamboo canes in the garden, holding them between their toes while they hammer at them with their beaks. We saw one who was a little unsteady on his feet, using his wings to stop himself wobbling from time to time, as if he was having trouble using a hurt foot. Other than that, he seemed fine, taking several seeds one after the other. My guess is he’s going to be OK, and that makes us both very happy.