The Story of 'Tufty' - A WYAIN Rescue

Date: 2012-06-22 09:48:55 | Category: Bird Protection | Author: Tommi Townsend
This is 'Tufty' a baby blackbird, a hatchling, which we found on our driveway just over a week ago. At this age they are sometimes referred to as 'pinkies' for obvious reasons.

It's incredible to see the blood flowing through the veins and the tiny heart beating away. I called her 'Tufty' as she has tufts of hair on her head. I say 'her' this stage you have no idea what sex the hatchling is!

The Story of 'Tufty' - A WYAIN Rescuec

'Tufty' is just a day or two old and her eyes are still closed. You must handle gently as they are very delicate and the tiny bones are easily broken.

We don't think 'Tufty' could have fallen from its nest as she wasn't close enough to any suitable nesting sites. It wasn't a cat that had climbed up a tree or hedge to raid the nest as the baby bird did not have any obvious injuries such as a bite mark or puncture wounds. This narrows down the field quite a bit. A magpie is the most likely culprit as they do raid nest on a regular basis. It probably raided a nest and then dropped the baby blackbird whilst flying away with it in its mouth.

Luckily, we found her quite quickly as she was still warm and as 'Tufty' did a poo on my hand almost immediately and so I knew that she had recently eaten. This is a good sign.

As I have mentioned in a previous blog, every second counts with hatchlings. We worked quickly to place the tiny bird in a warm and safe place - in my warm hands! This increased her body temperature without the risk of any overheating.

The Story of 'Tufty' - A WYAIN Rescuec

See what I mean about the tufty hair? Now just look at that enormous mouth and the yellow/cream beak! Isn't it simply amazing?

Once warmed up and stable we popped her into a cardboard box and kept her warm and cosy beneath a specialist heat lamp. An airing cupboard could just as easily be used but we don't have one!

Never give birds either milk or alcohol, as the old wives' tales suggest, as it will prove fatal.

Hatchlings are fed by their parents every fifteen minutes without fail but a hatchling will not eat if cold and stressed. We needed to be crafty! We fooled 'Tufty' into thinking that it was night time by popping her into a box, with a towel 'nest', in total darkness. This sent 'Tufty' into the land of nod where she did not then need to feed. This also allowed 'Tufty' to settle down and de stress.

Once stabilised and warm we started to feed 'Tufty' with moistened cat food every fifteen minutes. This really does make you realise just how hard these parents work to feed their young and how tired they must be.

You will need to mimic its parents in order to get the mouth open...all you do is tap on the side of its mouth with a wooden lolly stick and it will open like magic! Then just drop food into the mouth from your finger or from a wooden lolly stick.

It's crucial that we kept 'Tufty' hydrated so feeding moist cat food is perfect for a start. We supplemented this with a re hydration fluid which we simply dropped into her mouth from our finger. She swallowed away quite happily.


250ml of boiled water - cooled; 2tsp. Sugar; 1/4tsp. Salt.
Dissolve the sugar and salt in the water and leave until cool.

On too many occasions we have found wild birds that have been given water via a syringe forcing water into its mouth which has resulted in the bird's death. Inexperienced people could easily be forcing the water into the lungs instead of the stomach resulting in the bird drowning. Not the result we want.

'Tufty' is doing very well indeed and now only requires feeding every 45 minutes!
Look in on my next blog and meet 'Baldrick'!!!

For more information about what we do please visit our website and follow us on Facebook at West Yorkshire Animals In Need - Official. My personal Facebook page is also a useful source of information - Tommi Townsend. Don't forget to click 'Like' and become a friend!

Bye for now.

Tommi Townsend

Co-Founder of West Yorkshire Animals In Need (WYAIN)