Ringers to the Rescue

It happens more often that you might think. Birds getting into buildings. It could occur for a number of reasons, perhaps they find their way in for a warm, dark place to roost for the night. In extremely cold conditions, a warm dark building has a particular allure. It might be they are chasing food, a small bird, a small mammal. While in some buildings and for some birds this is no problem. Think of barn owls nesting and roosting in farm outbuildings; swallows nesting in stables; robins nesting in sheds. But sometimes it is not in the grand plan. A chase into a building or a warm place to sleep results in a bird becoming trapped amongst human activity. These are no outbuildings, stables or sheds with permanent open access, these are warehouses, factories, offices that are locked each night and a hive of activity during the day. Once in, there is often no obvious escape, either because the doors are shut or the activity puts birds off. In many cases they simply cannot find the way out.

So what to do? It can be distressing not only for the bird, but for the people too. Many spend hours trying to shoo a bird out, only to get stressed as it swoops high up in a warehouse, perching on rafters and lights. The bird seems to just continually avoid the wide open door where the wind whistles through. Then they try ringing for help. But who you gonna call? Well not ghost busters that’s for sure.

The beauty that is a female sparrowhawk

As licenced bird ringers we are in a unique position, in that we are legally able to use mist nets and other methods to capture wild birds. More than that we have the experience of how to go about it.

So when Lee received a call mid-week to say there was a sparrowhawk trapped in a workshop in Thetford it was time for us to step into action. Amongst cars in various stages of repair, perched high up amongst the dust, the rafters and the strip lighting a female sparrowhawk sat gazing down. She kicked up dust every time she flew, changing perch as she watched the activity below with a bright yellow eye.

With a strategically placed net, utilising an elevated section of the workshop above the offices, it was not long before we had the bird safely in a bird bag and ready for releasing. We took the opportunity to ring the bird, it is not that often that we catch female sparrowhawks as they tend to be bigger than males and do not readily stick in our small mesh nets. With some biometrics taken and a brand new shiny ring, the last thing we did was show the bird to the workers, who for the morning had simply seen the tail end of a brown streaky bird sprinkling dust on them. Many had never have seen such a beautiful bird so close…

Here you get a real sense of the size of the bird

And so to the great relief of bird and workers alike this trapped sparrowhawk spread her wings and took off into the bright Thetford sunshine, no worse for wear from the experience of the last few hours.


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