Accommodation of Casualty Miscellaneous Birds (Kingfishers, Cuckoos, Woodpeckers, Wrynecks) (Wildlife Casualty Management)

Click image for full page view Click image for full page view Click image for full page view

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 groups: Alcedo atthis - Common kingfisher, Cuculus canorus - Common cuckoo, Dendrocopus minor - Lesser spotted woodpecker, Dendrocopus major - Great spotted woodpecker, Jynx torquilla - Eurasian wryneck, Picus viridis - Eurasian green woodpecker.

These species are from the families Alcedinidae, Cuculidae, Picidae.

Little specific information is available regarding the accommodation requirements of these birds. In the absence of such data, information available for bird with similar life styles may be consulted. For these birds the information available for small garden birds etc. (Passerines) may be useful. See: Accommodation of Casualty Garden Birds etc. (Small Passerines)

Species-specific information:

Dendrocopus minor - Lesser spotted woodpecker, Dendrocopus major - Greater spotted woodpecker, Picus viridis - Eurasian green woodpecker

  • Provide a tall piece of rotting wood or a small stump in one corner of the cage.
    • Provides a vertical surface for the bird to cling to
    • Provides a surface for the bird to explore and probe.
    • May be used to encourage feeding, by smearing food on the wood.
    • (B199, D24)

Alcedo atthis - Common kingfisher

  • Standard bird breeder cage with appropriate perches available at all times.(B151).
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.
  • Provision of water for bathing as well as for drinking is important for most birds.
Complications/ Limitations / Risk
  • Most wild birds are easily stressed by captivity and close proximity to humans. It is important to minimise human disturbance and enable birds to shelter out of sight. (B169.43.w43)
  • Water bowls or pools provided for bathing must be shallow and should have one or more stones in them on which birds can stand, to reduce the risk of water-logging and drowning.
    • This is particularly important for hand reared fledglings and other birds which have been kept inside for several weeks and may have lost some of their normal feather condition and waterproofing.
  • Care must be taken to ensure that any wood preservatives used are non-toxic by the time an enclosure is inhabited.
  • Alcedo atthis - Common kingfisher should be maintained in captivity for as short a time as possible; they are very delicate. They have fused toes (syndactyly) and must have appropriate perching material available at all times.(B151).
  • 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)
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
  • Construction of long term accommodation may be expensive; the cost is generally proportional to the size of the aviary 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.
  • 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

Return to Top of Page