Accommodation of Casualty Crows, Jay, Magpie etc. (Wildlife Casualty Management)

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Summary Information
Type of technique Health & Management / UK Wildlife Casualty Management/ Techniques:
Synonyms and Keywords N.B.  This information should be read in association with Wildlife Casualty Accommodation which contains background information together with links to the Electronic Library and Organisations (UK Contacts). The related Species pages contain similar linkages.
Description This page has been prepared for the "UK Wildlife: First Aid and Care" Wildpro module, and is designed for the needs of the following species: Corvus monedula - Eurasian jackdaw, Corvus frugilegus - Rook, Corvus corax - Common raven, Corvus corone - Carrion crow, Garrulus glandarius - Eurasian jay, Pica pica - Black-billed magpie, Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax - Red-billed chough.

These species are from the families Corvidae.

Transport Container:

  • Sturdy cat-carrying box is appropriate for most species. (B151)
  • Wire cat-carrying basket may be safer for ravens (B151)
    • Wire cat-carrying basket may be covered by an upturned cardboard box such as a large apple box to provide seclusion for the inhabitant (V.w5).

Short term (Immediate/Emergency) Accommodation:

  • Cardboard boxes of an appropriate size, such as cat-carrying boxes, may be used for initial short term accommodation
  • Air holes should be present;
    • Positioned near the bottom of the box, where they do not give the bird a view out of the box.
  • Substrate of newspaper covered by a towel to provide a better grip
  • Warmth may be provided by e.g. using a heating pad underneath the box or an infra red lamp above the box
    • Take care to avoid overheating or burns
  • Place in a quiet place way from the sight and smell of humans, cats, dogs etc.

Medium-term (Hospitalisation) Accommodation:

  • Large robust bird cage.
  • Cage must be sufficiently wide to allow the wings to be stretched out fully. N.B. this is a legal requirement under the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981 unless the bird is undergoing examination or treatment by a veterinary surgeon.
  • Cage must be sufficiently large to allow the bird to stand comfortably on a perch
  • Veterinary cat kennels may be adapted by fitting a thick branch as a perch, just far enough above the floor to keep the tail feathers off the ground.
  • Floor may be covered with newspaper, changed daily and covered with a towel or carpet for better grip.
  • (B156.16.w16, V.w5, V.w26)

Long-term (Rehabilitation and Permanent) Accommodation:

  • Large cage or aviary with suitable perches, partially covered for protection from rain (B118.16.w17, B151)
  • Water dish large enough to bathe in is appreciated. (B118.16.w17)
  • Cage materials should be strong. (B118.16.w17)
  • If the floor is featureless (e.g. concrete) a piece of rotting wood to break up may provide environmental enrichment and reduce boredom. (B118.16.w17)
  • Ladders or sloping perches should be provided to allow flightless birds to hop up and reach a high point. (B151)
  • May only be possible to keep two crows or ravens in one aviary if birds are to relax sufficiently to bath and preen. (B151)
  • Care must be taken to ensure that any wood preservatives used are non-toxic by the time an enclosure is inhabited.
Appropriate Use (?)
  • Short-term (Immediate / Emergency) Accommodation is designed to be used for a short period of time only, e.g. prior to examination, to allow basic first-aid to be carried out, while an animal requires intensive care, or while specialist accommodation is being prepared.
    • The most important requirements are warmth, quiet and dark or dim lighting.
  • Medium-term (Hospitalisation) Accommodation is designed for the short-term care of individual animals or groups of animals, particularly during treatment and rehabilitation.
    • Hospital accommodation is commonly constructed with hygiene and easy cleaning as the main considerations, but the specific needs of the patients, including behavioural needs, should also be considered.
  • Long-term (Rehabilitation and Permanent) Accommodation facilities for wildlife are generally larger and more complex than accommodation designed only for temporary occupancy.
    • In general this type of accommodation is not suitable for animals which require daily treatment.
    • A period in rehabilitation accommodation may be particularly important when an animal has been hospitalised for some time.
    • Long-term accommodation may also be required for e.g.
      • Birds which have damaged their flight feathers and cannot be released until these have moulted back.
      • When time required for recovery would make the individual too late for migration.
  • In choosing or constructing accommodation it is important to consider the requirements for handling, provision of food and water, cleaning and disinfection (or disposal) of accommodation after use.
  • Accommodation should be checked daily for damage which might allow escape of the occupants or entry of predators
  • Disturbance, including visual and auditory stimulation, should be minimised.
  • If an animal is maintained in long-term care accommodation for a substantial period of time, the animal must have some form of environmental enrichment to encourage natural behaviours (possibly through food presentation techniques, cage furniture that encourages activity, or play items that would be found in its native environment). This is to reduce the risk of boredom as the animal becomes accustomed to its enclosure and the possible development of behavioural problems. (V.w6)
Complications/ Limitations / Risk
  • Care must be taken to ensure that any wood preservatives used are non-toxic by the time an enclosure is inhabited.
Equipment / Chemicals required and Suppliers
  • Most materials required for the construction of cages and aviaries may be obtained from standard fencing or farm-equipment stores.
Expertise level / Ease of Use
  • Construction of long-term accommodation may require some expertise.
Cost/ Availability
  • May be expensive, particularly for construction of longer term accommodation; the cost is generally proportional to the size of the accommodation and the strength and durability of construction materials used.
Legal and Ethical Considerations
  • Accommodation for casualty wild animals should be designed to minimise the stress on the animal and to minimise the risk of injury to that animal.
  • Under the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981 it is an offence to keep any bird (excluding poultry) in "a cage or other receptacle which is not sufficient in height, length or breadth to permit the bird to stretch its wings freely", except for birds which are undergoing examination or treatment by a veterinary surgeon, during transportation and for limited time periods (aggregate not exceeding 72 hours) for birds being shown at a public exhibition or competition.
  • N.B. Choughs are on Schedule 4, Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981 . need to be registered with the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (DETR).
  • Accommodation for casualty wild animals should be designed to minimise the stress on the animal and to minimise the risk of injury to that animal.
  • A wild animal in captivity is protected under the same welfare legislation as domestic animals, e.g. Protection of Animals Acts 1911-2000; under this legislation it is an offence to treat a captive animal cruelly or to cause it unnecessary suffering.
    • This includes an obligation to provide proper attention and care.
    • The keeper has a duty to keep all wildlife casualties in a fit manner, in accommodation of a size which allows reasonable movement and with an environment suitable for its normal way of life.
    • (J35.147.w1, P19.2.w1, D27, D28)
  • Accommodation which does not fulfil the physiological and psychological requirements of the animal and results in an inadequate level of fitness at the time of release may seriously compromise the survival ability of that animal. Release of an animal which is unfit may be an offence under the Abandonment of Animals Act 1960 (J35.147.w1, W5.Jan01).
  • Risks to human health, both physical and risk of zoonotic illness must be minimised: Health and Safety at Work, etc. Act 1974.
  • An offence may be committed under article 14 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 if a species on Schedule 9 of that Act, or a species not ordinarily resident in the UK is allowed to escape from accommodation in which it is being housed.
  • See: Legislation relating to Wildlife Casualties.
Author Debra Bourne
Referee Becki Lawson and Suzanne Boardman

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