Intruders resulting in sad losses

imageOn the 30th November, whilst I was out getting supplies, persons or a person got into the Sanctuary and opened the doors to the aviaries and opened both gates to Sir Edgars enclosure. Edgar is a Raven that was shot and has extensive damage to his side and wing leaving him unable to fly. Edgar has gone.

A little Skylark that I had rehabilitated and was over wintering has gone. Bonnie, the Jackdaw who has wing damage and has very limited flight, had got out but fortunately had gone into one of the sheds and had found hen’s eggs, so was still there when I returned.

The less able hens that are kept in the same area had taken the opportunity, seeing the open doors, of going into the aviary to get the seed on the ground. Unfortunately they also pecked at Princess, the little wood pigeon that has spent months recovering from a serious head injury. She has very limited flight and spends most of her time at ground level. Princess has been through so much already, including losing an eye and part of her face so it was very distressing to find her like this. Fortunately her injuries were superficial and after a course of antibiotic and lots of TLC she seems fine.

I cannot begin to tell you the pain this has caused me. Since Edgars arrival on 2nd July I have spent hundreds of hours with him. He was in a very bad way physically and was terrified of humans. Slowly but surely he gained confidence with me and was playing, chattering all day and clearly happy

Yes, Edgar should have been free but someone’s cruelty took away that choice. Now someone has taken away the happiness he had found.

I am heartbroken. I see him all the time, but he’s not there.

My aim, always, is to treat, rehabilitate and release birds back to the wild. If they are not released there is a very good reason. However, if they cannot cope or are stressed in any way in captivity they are put to sleep.

I have devoted my whole life to the Sanctuary and have not had a full day off in 5 years. I love every minute and am constantly thinking  of ways to stimulate and make their environment as close to their natural one as possible.

I have spent a lot of time and money making the Sanctuary safe from predators. Sadly my thoughts did not include the human kind.

I thank the Garda for their advice on security and systems are now in place, however this has meant using savings for another aviary which will be much needed come Spring.

Meeting the financial needs of the Sanctuary is always a struggle as I work entirely on my own so this is a big set back for me.

This incident has caused suffering in many ways but the birds suffering is unimaginable.

Sir Edgar will always be in my heart.

I would like to thank everyone for their messages and good wishes and a very special thank you to Jo and Stuart from Lough Bo boarding kennels and Geraldine Bailey for their very kind donations which I will put towards the new  aviary.

A baby Sparrow’s journey.

IMG_7534 This little nestling was brought in by Peter after he found him abando0nded in his garden. I immediately put him in a heated hospital cage and gave him a feed. That was the start of a very tiring few weeks because he needed feeding every half an hour up until late evening, with each day starting in time to feed him at 6am when he started shouting for food. Peter had named him Condor. If his size didn’t fit the name, his appetite certainly did !! So started our journey together. Because I work entirely on my own, Condor had to come everywhere with me, travelling on a hot water bottle in the car, when I had to get supplies. Condor continued to thrive and when it was time for his release I had mixed emotions. Joy that he had matured into a very strong healthy little chap but, as always, when I release any bird, the concerns of him surviving in the wild with all the challenges wild birds face. I need not have worried at all. Condor has not only survived but decided he would have bed and breakfast here. Every afternoon he comes into one of the sheds where he stays overnight.  He has breakfast in the morning and then spends the day going from the bird table, hen food, anything he can eat in fact ! Condor very often travels around the Sanctuary perched on the top of my head, whilst I am doing my chores. He has it all worked out.IMG_0694IMG_1554

Sir Edgar

IMG_0442imageSir Edgar arrived at the sanctuary on the 2nd July. He had been shot in the side and the wing. The rest of his family were killed.  Someone then kept him for a month without seeking Veterinary help for him. This resulted in Edgar’s injuries healing in an unnatural way. He will never be able to fly. When Edgar first arrived he was absolutely terrified of everything. I have a very large open enclosure for him with trees and a shed he can go in if he chooses to. During the last 4 months Edgar has slowly gained confidence and physical strength. Not long after he arrived he became very ill and I did not expect him to survive. He needed intensive care and thankfully he slowly recovered. He had an infection from one of his wounds which had been slowly debilitating him before he even arrived here. If I sit in his enclosure he will now come and stand a foot or two away from me. He doesn’t trust me enough to let me touch him or take food from me but Ravens are the least social of all the  Corvids, so I would not expect anything more at this stage. He will not tolerate anyone else approaching his enclosure. He is one of the most magnificent birds I have had the privilege  to work with.

A visitor

Not only have the new hens found that there is always a supply of food on my kitchen windowsill, a Pine Marten now visits each evening and finishes what the birds have left. I managed to take these pictures, albeit they are not very clear. P1000407          P1000394            066

Battery hens

In March I gave a home to 20 ex battery hens. They had a very long journey from Wexford and were exhausted when they arrived in the evening. The following morning some were very stressed and huddled in a corner but some of the more adventurous souls took a few tentative steps outside. They have a field which is secured with high fencing enabling them to enjoy the freedom they have never known.

A few weeks have passed and they are all well and not only enjoy their field but quite like to inspect my kitchen and my garden, which is now more or less denuded of anything resembling a flower. A couple of them have also discovered there are tasty treats in my bird feeders on my windowsill. It is becoming quite a challenge walking around my garden because I will suddenly discover a large hole that has been carefully designed as a dust bath. A happy outcome for all of them.

latest rescues

Wood Pigeon with a serious head injury.

Wood Pigeon with a serious head injury.

Juvenile Skylark with balance and coordination problems.

Juvenile Skylark with balance and coordination problems.

Canary with head injury

Canary with head injury

Juvenile Robin with broken wing

Juvenile Robin with broken wing

Juvenile Blackbird with an injured leg and wing

Juvenile Blackbird with an injured leg and wing

Abandoned Thrush fledgling

Abandoned Thrush fledgling

Abandoned Great Tit fledgling

Abandoned Great Tit fledgling

Pigeon nestling. Nest destroyed.

Pigeon nestling. Nest destroyed.

Jackdaw fledgling with injured wing

Jackdaw fledgling with injured wing

Abandoned Jackdaw fledgling

Abandoned Jackdaw fledgling

Raven that has been shot

Raven that has been shot

Sparrow nestling, abandoned

Sparrow nestling, abandoned

New rescues

IMG_5235This little Swallow was brought in after a young boy rescued him from his cat’s mouth. He had no obvious injuries but was given medication as a precaution against infection and I put him in a heated hospital cage to rest and recover from shock.

Unfortunately he cannot fly, albeit his wings are not damaged. He may have injured a muscle or just be badly bruised. Hopefully, given time, he will be able to take to the skies again.

Four Thrush babies were brought in after being abandoned in their nest in an apple tree. The nest was low down in the tree and it may be the parents were taken by a predator of some sort.

I have them in a heated hospital cage and they are thriving. One is smaller and is not gaining weight as quickly as would be expected but is eating well, so maybe he is just a late developer.

Here they are 5 days after arriving, starting to explore.IMG_5241

Three very sad losses

020During the last two weeks three of my dearest friends have passed away.

My loyal companion Sunny who has shared my life for the last seventeen years.

Maisie, Super Nanny  hen, who has been the Boss for five years and

Esperanza, who endured such a lot, resulting in her leg being amputated and was a huge part of my life for the last couple of years.

I loved them very much and miss them greatly.004043

A New year begins.

A New Year dawns with hopes for the happiness and well being of all the resident birds here and any new arrivals that may come in.

2014 was an incredibly busy and tiring year. There was a constant intake of injured and abandoned birds, ending the year with 30 battery hens that could not be re homed normally because they were either too sick or had leg fractures.

142 casualties were successfully treated and were able to be released back into the wild. Some are unable to be released and are now in their forever home at Little Wings. There are now 170 birds in my care. The little ones that were not able to be saved were made as comfortable as possible and were warm and  safe, thus saving them  from ending their lives being killed by predators or starving.

Keeping the cost of running the sanctuary is an ongoing challenge. Food and electricity bills are frightening. Sick birds need constant heat. Then there is bedding, medications,Vet bills and the up keep and maintenance of the outhouses and land.

With the 1000 euro the fundraiser raised in October and donations, I was able to get 6 foot fox proof fencing in another field. The cost of this was 2000 euro. It was not as big an area as I had hoped but that would have cost another 2000 euro and there was just not enough in the pot.

I am holding another fundraiser in a few weeks to try to attain this goal.

I had great news just before Christmas that I had been given the animal welfare  grant from the Ministry of Agriculture.I was awarded 1000 euro.

I would like to say a special thank you to those who were so kind to donate to make it possible to get some fencing done.

Amparo, Nuala, Lough Bo kennels,Niamh, Sue, Alan and Lottie for the grain, Agnes West, Dundalk Rotary club and to all that give me encouragement when things get a bit overwhelming !

My sincere thanks to Susie Brown the sanctuary Vet. JUST THE BEST !!!

I run the sanctuary entirely on my own. I cannot afford to pay anyone to help and cannot afford to pay for insurance to cover volunteers working. It is all time consuming with no days off at all,064 and very often day and night during the summer months.

However the satisfaction of helping any bird in need, far outweighs the commitment needed. It is a huge privilege to gain the trust of these beautiful creatures and I think I have the best vocation in the world.

My constant companion, Autumn, is the best comforter and baby sitter of the birds that I could wish for, as you can see from the photograph. We are a team.

May 2015 be a kind and healthy year for you all.