Scorton school friends save baby birds

Bethany Farrow with the three hand-reared chiffchaffs.

Three youngsters have hand reared three baby birds after finding them close to death.

Emma Farrow, 13 her sister Bethany, 12, and their friend Imogen Laws, 13, all from Scorton, came across the chiffchaff chicks while walking at Scorton Lake.

The girls, who attend Richmond School, came across the birds when their dogs led them to a nest which contained several dead chicks.

Among them, however were three which were still alive, although barely moving.

After ringing the RSPB for advice and waiting to see if the chicks’ parents returned, they wrapped them in a coat and took them home where they put them in a box with a towel for warmth.

The girls spent nine days hand-rearing the birds, initially with mushed-up dog biscuits and hard-boiled egg for protein, feeding them off the end of a paintbrush and water from a pipette.

They were all surprised they lasted the night. They called them Pumpkin, who was the chunky one, Rio – he was the slimmer one and Smudge – the smallest one.

The birds had to be fed every half an hour. Sharing the feeding duties, sisters Bethany and Emma got up at 6am to do this every day and until 10:30pm at night.

Imogen came when she could to help feed them too, but as they had to keep social distancing she couldn’t come as much as she wanted.

The chicks eventually started recognising where the food came from and tweeted when the girls came to get them from the airing cupboard where they were staying to keep warm.

They fed them egg biscuit feed, mealworms and waxworms with tweezers.

They put them in a different place to teach them how to perch, and put in large branches with leaves in the bath. Soon they could hop onto the top branch and would sit huddled together for hours.

Not long after this, they began to fly between the branches and eventually they started flying onto us as the girls went in to feed them.

Bethany said: “It was a worrying but joyful moment when, after nine days, the chicks were strong enough to be released into the wild. We carefully put them in a small box and took them outside.

“After just a minute they had all hopped out and one of them was already up the top of a massive tree. All day, we kept a look out for them expecting them to come back; they came back every now and then and we were able to feed them a little bit.

“A week has now gone by since their release and all three chiffchaffs have been seen occasionally coming back to the garden to feed. They are fully independent now and doing nicely. We miss them but hope they will be happy and safe.

Richmond School headteacher Jenna Potter said: “I am overwhelmed with this wonderful news about Bethany, Emma and Imogen.

“Their special and caring act of kindness to save these beautiful birds and devote so many hours of time to hand rear them is tremendous, without which they almost certainly would have perished.”

1 Comment

  1. Well done girls. A lovely story of thoughtfulness, caring & dedication. 🌈🌈

Comments are closed.