I heard a song on the radio that I really like today, The first time by Roberta Flack, and there’s a line in the song.….Like the trembling heart of a captive bird….. Now this line has little to do with birds in the song, but I have a lot to do with birds, so it triggered a train of thought.
I tried to remember the very first chick that I hand fed, and I couldn’t. I do remember how scared I was though, in fact I was terrified. Young birds appear so fragile and I was afraid that I would damage the bird’s beak while opening it, or choke it by putting too much food in it’s mouth, or crush it by holding it too tightly.
I also remember the first time I felt the heart of a trembling captive bird in my hands and recall how my heart sped up and matched the beat, and still does, for to me every bird in my care feels like that very first time, it’s always unique and can never be taken for granted.
When chicks come into the rescue, they all behave differently. Some fight, some try to flee and some lie still, but for all of them, that first feed is literally the difference between life and death. If we can’t get food into them, it’s all over. Some chicks adapt to the human parent easily but others resist us. Fortunately, we always eventually get them going and then it’s all plain sailing.
I love birds, probably more than any other creature. Maybe because they represent a freedom we can only imagine, being able to soar to great heights……oh if only we had wings!!!!
And what I hate most about the rescue is dealing with wild captive birds, to lose the freedom of flight must be a hideous thing, and yet despite being captive and trapped, wild birds show the most amazing resilience and the overwhelming majority of them survive and are returned to the wild. You have to admire them, they suffer without complaint, no sound ever comes from a wounded or starving bird, they just endure it.
Yesterday I released another bird in my garden, and once again it was like the very first time I ever released a wild bird, it’s something you never tire of…the sound of beating wings and feeling that downdraft as they soar into the sky….well what can I say?
Yesterday was the first time this year that there was no hand feeding required…..now it’s all about setting the remaining birds free……
So, a quick round-up. This year we have released more than four hundred birds, ducks, gulls, curlews, pheasants, pigeons, doves, blackbirds, blue tits, robins, jackdaws, crows…..the list is endless. So…..here are a few more pics of some of the chicks we’ve had in.
Remember these jackdaws that I eventually met in the wild…
And all of these are now back where they belong……rather wonderful eh?