Baby Goldfinch needing help


My son and I found a baby goldfinch yesterday with one wing missing.  It looks like it has just fledged and a cat perhaps got to it, though there is no blood or anything, it almost looks like the bird was born without a wing.

We called all the local vets and they said all they would do if brought in was to humanely euthanise the bird which we felt was extreme as actually it was quite alert and very much alive.

We have kept the bird in a box and fed it water with a paintbrush and also a mix of dog food paste with water which it is eating quite happily.  We were half not expecting it to last the night but it is very much awake this morning and so we seem to have adopted a baby bird. 

If we let it out in the wild it wouldn't last a second (so many cats round here).

Did we do the right thing? What do we do now?


  • Ben and Beth, hi.
    What to do now. Opinions will differ.

    Your bird will never fly, and will never mate. And I can understand the vet's suggestion.

    The alternative seems to be to accept that you now have a Goldfinch.
    To be honest, if we didn't have cats, that's probably what we would do.
    But I wouldn't even try to convince anyone that that's the best thing to do.

    While the bird's with you, you're probably going to need some professional advice about feeding (and some specialist food I think). He/she will currently need to be fed every hour from, say, 7:00 am until 7:00 pm.

    I'd give him/her some shelter if I were you. Somewhere where he/she can go if he/she wants some peace and quiet.
    Also, a pseudo nest. An old tea towel fashioned into a ball with an indentation in the middle would do the trick. Avoid anything in which claws can get caught (flannels, etc.)
    Fresh water, and specialist food. The water bowl shouldn't be a drowning risk.

    I hope that a UK member of the Community (I'm not UK based) can give you links to where you might find further advice.

    Good luck -
  • In reply to Dave - CH:

    Thank you Dave, that is really helpful!
  • A pleasure Beth and Ben.
  • This is a really difficult dilemma. The general advice is to let nature take its course and to try not to interfere but that’s very hard. I would suggest that you make contact through this link and hopefully they can give guidance on feeding etc but I’m not sure what the law is on keeping songbirds from the wild.

    Sorry not to be of more help, I tend to hand wildlife in need over to re-habbers as I don’t feel I have the skills and knowledge required.

    Cin J

  • I'm not of much good either with advice on goldfinch, or any wild creature care for that matter.

    My guess if it had been born with only one wing, the harsh side of nature has kicked in and the youngster has been left to predation, and that could be why the vet suggested euthanasia as being the least painful step rather than left for predation.

    That's the harsh reality of nature to keep strong blood lines.


    Flickr Peak Rambler

  • In reply to Mike B:

    Michael B said:
    That's the harsh reality of nature

    You're right Mike.

    But then again, you and me are "nature" too. And so are Ben and Beth.

    So, a tricky question to work out.

    We have a cat that was born with a condition that, in the wild, would kill her.

    She would have died at around 1 month old, when she moved to solids.

    She's 5 and a bit now, because nature (in the shape of me, Mrs. Dave, and a few good vets) has made that possible.

    Lots she can't do, and never will be able to do (we give thanks that she's a very poor hunter). Lots she can though. And she seems happy.


  • In reply to Dave - CH:

    Absolutely, it is a tricky one Dave, many of us will have seen some animals manage to progress with the right support, just as we humans can and do.


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