A Wildlife Rescue
by Angela Wilkes
My neighbour was in a flap. A bird - he didn’t recognise its species but it was “quite big” – had flown into the spare bedroom at breakfast time and would I please come and help catch it.
One glimpse of the blood-specked starburst in the window raised doubts that this wildlife rescue was going to have a happy ending. But there was no sign, living or dead, of the avian missile who had crashed through the glass with such a loud bang that the neighbour’s son, getting ready for school, had feared a gunshot blast. Window strikes by birds (perhaps caused by reflections of sky mirrored in the glass) often result in severe, often fatal, head trauma, with injuries including brain swelling and retinal detachment. And that’s for birds who hit a pane, then bounce off. This casualty was likely to have been cut by broken glass, too.
A precautionary closing of the curtains (so the bird did not try to exit through that wicked-looking zigzag hole) and the switching on of a light revealed – eventually – a large plump woodcock, its long beak pointing resolutely to the dark sanctuary beneath the bed where it was determined to hide. Amazingly, it was not only alive and kicking, but flapping and running, too. It – actually a young male, it transpired – was finally removed by one (thankfully unbroken and unbloodied) wing as it tried to cram itself behind a pile of books on the dressing table and slither down the wall.
A brief trip to the local vet’s surgery, crouched glaring in the wicker cat basket, gave the woodcock a miraculously clean bill of health. Nothing broken, no bleeding lacerations or embedded glass, although it had run over the splinters on the bedroom carpet. The vet thought that the length of the woodcock’s beak had offset the impact and flying speed (an estimated 25-30 mph reckoned the British Trust for Orthinology). After a few hours “chilling out” in a quiet, dimly-lit warm spot at home, (a few twigs and leaves added to the back of the covered basket to make the surroundings feel more natural), it strutted confidently and without a backward glance into the thick undergrowth at the edge of Belair Park. Cool.