Gower Bird Hospitals Closed Circuit Television
use of CCTV also gives an excellent opportunity to
Footage is recorded and studied, leading to great
improvements in aviary design and the mental well
being of our patients.
Students from Swansea University use the
facilities at Gower Bird Hospital to carry out
research projects. The welfare of our patients is
paramount. No projects are carried out to induce
stress we record normal activities at the
Hospital and this behaviour is studied.
For example, hand reared blackbirds were observed
in one of our aviaries and it was noted through the
CCTV that staff walking past the aviaries would
frighten the birds. The birds would stop whatever
they were doing and take cover, remaining in hiding
for several minutes. While this was a good fear
response, it meant the birds werent feeding,
socialising and exercising as much as they should.
It was impossible to reduce the human traffic
passing, so fine green netting (used for wind breaks
in gardens) was fitted over the mesh walls of
the aviaries and shrubs allowed to grow up the
outside. This resulted in a much more secluded space
inside the aviary and the birds were much less
affected by human traffic.
Another important discovery was the amount of
squabbling over high perches. At the time of
recording only one or two of the natural branch
perches were high in the aviary, resulting in the
pecking order of the birds being a constant source
of aggression. Simply providing more high perches
for roosting restored equilibrium and reduced stress
All this may sound obvious, but without the CCTV,
it would not have been observed and the improvements
wouldnt have been made.
During 2001 we were able to fit a camera into a
privacy area in the treatment unit and for the first
time we filmed a flat gulls recovery. A
flat gull is suffering from food poisoning and
appears paralysed no movement in their legs,
sometimes unable to lift their heads.
The normal procedure was filmed:
Initially the gull is tube fed with body fluid
replacement. As the bird gets a little stronger,
even though it cant stand, we put it into a
shallow bath of warm water for a few minutes where
it will drink for itself, eliminating the stress of
being tube fed. This also helps keep the feathers
underneath clean as there is usually a nasty build
up of green droppings. This goes on for a few days.
the gull starts to stand and eat and when strong
enough to walk is transferred to an outside
rehabilitation pool to gain strength and condition
This has always been a successful treatment, but
because the bird is only observed when having fluids
we thought it would be worth filming its recovery.
Our student Matt started the task of watching video
tapes of a mostly immobile gull for 72 hours.
The bird obviously couldnt tuck its head under
its wing to sleep because of the temporary
paralysis. We saw its eyes close, its head nod, its
beak drop to the floor and then it would wake with a
start. This carried on until its condition had
improved enough to be able to turn its head into its
The gull did not get any quality sleep for more
than 48 hours!
We already provided rolled up towels for very
sick flat gulls to rest their beaks on as they
obviously needed it, but didnt do this for birds
that could hold their heads up as it didnt seem
necessary. Thanks to Matts research, all flat
gulls now get pillows. This reduces stress, aids
recovery and makes convalescence a lot more