Blackbird with damaged wing feathers - what should we do?

Hello, I am new to this forum and I would be very grateful for any help you can give.

One of our cats caught a male blackbird and brought him into the house alive. My husband chased her outside where she dropped the bird and then sat beside him. The blackbird lay in shock, my daughter wept, we didn't know what to do. The blackbird suddenly sprinted off and the cat went after him. We panicked, I grabbed the cat and locked her in the house.

The blackbird seemed OK but although he could run, he couldn't fly. A couple of his wing feathers were pulled out by the cat. A couple of drops of blood fell on the kitchen floor when she brought him in, but these seem to be from the wing feathers, nowhere else.

We couldn't bear to just leave him to the cat so have put him in a box in a dark, quiet room.

Now I read that it takes 12 months for feathers to regrow. It seems to me it would be very cruel to try and keep him that long. Could I release him in the nature reserve near here? There are no foxes, though perhaps other predators.

I don't live in the UK and there is no wildlife rescue centre near me. I plan to ring the national one on Monday but if anyone has any suggestions about what to do in the mean time I'd be so grateful.

Have we done the wrong thing?

Thank you in advance.

  • Hello Helen. You have done the correct thing in that you were able to separate the cat and Blackbird. Keep the bird in the box, make sure it is big enough. If it is a cage type box, this is fine, if it is a cardboard box, make sure if you have the lid closed (don't know if it can fly) to put plenty air holes in the box, keep it somewhere quiet. Put some food and water in with the bird and monitor it. Can it fly at all? Can it attempt to fly? Can it move the damaged wing? I know that birds will loose their tail feathers and will be fine until their new ones grow, but I am unsure how a bird copes with missing wing feathers, it may depend on which ones or it may need them all, to allow it to fly? Hopefully this may help you over the weekend until you contact the rescue centre for advice.

    Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

  • In reply to Catlady:

    Thank you so much, that's so reassuring!

    He's actually in one of the cat carriers (no cat has been in it for a year so it shouldn't smell scary) in my study, with some water and food.

    He's called Benjamin now...
  • Can you find a wildlife rehabber near you? Cat saliva carries a bacteria that is fatal to birds so your blackbird will need antibiotics.

    Local Facebook groups can be quite helpful to find a re-habber

    Cin J

  • In reply to Germain:

    Oh no! Cats! As if it weren't bad enough.

    I will try that, thank you, that's a great idea.
  • Update: unfortunately Benjamin has died.

    I was looking up anything locally on Facebook (there was nothing) and then checked him before I went to bed. He was stiff and cold.

    It's a sad ending and I can't help wondering if there was something better I could have done.

    Thank you so much, catlady and Cin J for your help and advice, it really helped me.
  • Sorry you had a sad ending with the bird, you tried your best, so at least you know you did what you could.

    Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

  • One of my fellow posters mentioned to a cat owner about having a bell on the collar. He may not have seen this post. Bells aren't much use at protecting fledgling birds, but adults that are potentially trying to feed young would benefit from hearing an approaching cat.

    obviously, I am sorry the bird died and your daughter was upset.

  • In reply to Catlady:

    Thank you, Catlady, that means a lot.
  • In reply to Robbo:

    Thank you, Robbo, that's kind.

    The cat bell thing is a bit complicated. First, we've tried it but the cat just wriggles out of the collar. The longest she kept one on was three days, by the end she could get out of them in a couple of hours and God knows where she left them.

    Second, we originally got a cat because our landlord has a barn that's built onto our house, in which he keeps food and stuff for his animals, and there are a lot of rats. He used to put down poison for them, but we persuaded him that if we got a cat he wouldn't need to do this any more. The cat does keep the rat population down and in fact rarely goes after birds. Obviously, she wouldn't be able to do this with a bell.

    I don't know, it might be worth persevering with the cat bell during the spring? But it hasn't really proved to be something that works too well for us as a permanent solution so far. If you have any ideas though, I'd be really grateful.
  • In reply to helen21:

    Thanks for the response and explanation. All makes sense. Re collars and bells, I've never owned a cat. Parents did many years ago. It killed everything it could get its paws on. When he died, they never got another cat. I don't know about cats and collars, but I'd have thought if the collar can be taken off by the cat, it isn't on properly/tightly enough. I'd also guess collar has more chance of snagging on things if there's a gap big enough for a cat to remove it.