It's a starling. It fell down the hole in the roof this morning. Little sat outside the airing cupboard and told me as much. So, it being morning, I decided it was M's turn to check. Bad move: M can't find things right in front of his eyes--including little starlings. It went quiet and Little left her watch post for a bit. She went back half an hour ago when the noise resumed, louder. The racket was too loud to be coming from the loft.
With not a little trepidation--small birds in a confined space get me the way moths do (unlike large fierce birds)--I locked Little out of the bathroom and opened the airing cupboard door. Hidden in the warm spot beside the heating pipes behind the pack of bog rolls was a little hatchling. Easily spotted since it immediately opened its mouth and screeched for food. Mainly down covered but with the spikes of its flight feathers showing through. I wrapped it in a flannel, dumped it in a box and covered the box with another box. Little accompanied me downstairs and watched.
I shut the curtains and the little one piped down. What to do in such a situation?
- Ring M and explain that he was wrong and Little was right (which is pretty normal: Little, like all the women in the household, is always right). M offers to come home and put it back in its nest.
- Get out a pouch of feline urinary cat food and feed several bits into small bird with huge maw. (At one point it tried to swallow the teaspoon and swung aloft until I persuaded it not to.)
- Line box with newspaper to keep it warm and comfy.
- Google some more.
- M came back, blocked hole (down which nothing but bird has fallen for a year now, so complete collapse of end wall not as imminent as I'd originally feared), deposited bird (just fed for the third time!) into nest.
I was vaguely tempted to keep the thing, acquire a cage and have a new and interesting pet, but they can live up to 22 years (cat plus commitment) and need lots of company and stimulation. Giving it back seemed a better move. M thinks mum was waiting in the eaves and there was a lot of starling chatter outside too. So there's family waiting for it.
I did consider the other option, killing it outright, but it was uninjured, seemingly not badly dehydrated, and working very hard at surviving. I hope it does. Bearing in mind their potential longevity, the same birds may have been in residence here longer than us. The nest, apparently, is a conical edifice several feet high. So there's been a lot of effort put into it.
Annoyingly, with my thoughts far more on avian welfare and removing bird from curious cat, I failed to take any pictures.