In September of last year I was busy working in the office, when I was alerted to the distressed call of a Jackdaw. We have rescued all manner of animals over the years, including wildlife, so I am particularly attuned to distress calls!
Upon closer inspection I could a little black figure huddled under our ivy in the garden, trying desperately to defend himself from a mob of Blackbirds and Starlings. His injuries were horrific. His head was sore and bleeding from an open wound which looked as though it had been there for some time. His eyes were shut tightly and he was barely moving. So appalling were his injuries that I wondered if this poor little fellow was beyond help, however it was obvious that he would die without immediate treatment and he was extremely vulnerable to further attacks, so I knew that his only chance would be to seek immediate help.
We are extremely lucky to have the Bedfordshire Wildlife centre on our doorstep, so I gathered the bird in a towel and popped him into our cat basket, hoping to cause the least stress as possible. I had previously driven wildlife casualties to Tiggywinkles in Buckinghamshire, but had since been alerted to Sam in Houghton Regis, who has been involved in animal welfare for many years and runs the charity from a small set of treatment rooms at her home in Houghton Regis. When we first met, it was obvious that if anyone could pull this little fellow through Sam could!
She shared my concern but her optimism was contagious and having made a donation for his care, I returned home feeling cautiously optimistic.
We kept in touch via twitter and as the days turned into weeks his progress albeit slow, seemed ongoing and some five months later and armed with a boot full of old newspapers, I returned to find a completely different bird. Sam informed me that he was blind in one eye, but he was completely unrecognisable from the forlorn little creature I found huddled at the foot of our ivy.
Sam felt sure that he had previously been a pet that someone had become fed up with and decided to release! The reason being that he had first been so tame and relaxed with her presence. She also went on to explain that this was becoming less and less the more time he spends with other Jackdaws. He also had a pre-existing long term injury to a wing which was not as a result of this attack by the other birds!
He now shared an aviary with another two Jackdaws and a Magpie, whom Sam is hoping to release in the coming weeks. Our bird however, could never be released since his is partially sighted and the injury to one of his wings, meant he could no longer survive in the wild. After watching him interact with the other birds, Sam showed me around the centre.
There were two young squirrels that were awaiting release, several recovering pigeons and a baby dove that was handed in while I was there. This was placed carefully into an incubator with a fully grown dove, who immediately cuddled up to the youngster as if knowing it was desperately in need of their care.
Sam truly is an inspirational lady and her devotion is plain to see. I left the centre with a couple of hens clucking around my ankles, safe in the knowledge that injured or orphaned wildlife would always have a place in Sam’s centre and heart.