Sunday, 4 May 2014

The Cardinal Rules

On March 3rd we received a Cardinal with a partial healed wing fracture. She was non-flighted, but I thought she might regain flight with time, so I set her up in one of our special cloth lined indoor bird enclosures. As we always try to do I made it nice in there for her, with branches for perching, full spectrum lighting and of course food and water. 

This is very important because any other type caging will damage a birds flight feathers rendering it flightless and regrowing these is a painstakingly slow process and the as natural as possible setting will help to reduce stress levels.

With the wing fracture partially healed there was not much I could do for her but keep her safe from prowling cats.

She was in this good size enclosure for some time and kept me entertained with her Cardinal antics anytime I came near. Being fiercely protective of her little habitat I made sure she was in a secluded area as not to stress her out to much.

Cardinal in her cloth indoor enclosure

After many weeks I observed her starting to fly from one end to the other in her enclosure. This was good, she can now fly, so I deemed her ready for a trial release....

Unfortunately she failed miserably at this and could not  manage any flight what so ever. I was so disappointed, because now her whole future was in jeopardy.

It always falls to me to make the decisions on when wildlife needs to be euthanized around here. I take these decisions very seriously and often it is not easy. The criteria for wildlife are much different than pets. One of them is that it is not always in the animals best interest to stay alive if they can not be returned back to their natural habitat. Often being in captivity is highly stressful on wildlife and we do the best we can to keep their stress levels as low as possible, but it still is stressful. It is therefor not always a kind decision to keep wildlife alive if they can not be returned to their natural habitat if that means getting condemned to a life in captivity.

A bird needs to be able to fly or it will fall prey to a predator such as a cat and we all know who cruel cats can be with their prey.

I have a Cardinal Rule when it comes to making these life or death decisions; I need to be 100% sure that euthanizing is in the best interest of the animal and that any other option is not humane.  A squirrel with three legs can do fine in the wild, but a non-flighted bird...

I was mentally struggling with this Cardinal, so sticking with my rule I did not euthanize her and she stayed in her indoor-enclosure flying little bits and defending her little part of the world.

As we started releasing our overwinter guest one of our larger outdoor enclosure came to be empty, so I made the decision to transfer this little Cardinal lady out to the big enclosure to see if she could strengthen that wing enough to fly across it.

To my surprise she started to do better and better every day. Flying a little bit higher and longer everyday. Clearly happy to be outside she made me smile everyday I saw her flying around her enclosure twittering away.

After being with us one day shy of two months we where able to release her yesterday at a carefully chosen locations and she delighted me by flying up into a tree and and flying to the next and the next...

(I apologize for the poor photographs, but I am never at my best taking pics of many emotions)

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