What To Do
Gower Bird Hospital - Research
Bird Hospital carries out research into the best ways of caring for sick and injured birds and mammals.
Below are some of the procedures we are using.
|A helminth egg found in
a faeces sample
High technology always helps
Gower Bird Hospital is always looking for ways
to improve facilities for patients. We have made
tremendous progress since registering as a
charity in 1996.
We have always kept meticulous records. Every
patients details are recorded on database
enabling us to answer questions and predict
More than 1200 patients are brought to Gower
Bird Hospital every year and as much history as
possible is noted. So far, the first fledgling
to arrive is always a blackbird in early April!
The microscope is another very useful piece of
equipment. Samples of all bird and hedgehog
droppings are looked at and parasite burdens
We are in the process of compiling an extensive
range of photographs and video recordings which
will be useful to wildlife hospitals everywhere.
The CCTV system is invaluable when assessing
patients fitness. All wildlife will be wary of
predators and people are seen as predators by
If a bird can see you it will try to disguise
any weakness in the wild a weak specimen is
always targeted as easy prey. Standing next to
an aviary and looking in will produce three
different behaviours: the bird will hide behind
the privacy screens provided, remain absolutely
still or panic and hurl itself at the aviary
walls trying to escape.
None of these actions give us any idea of the
true condition of the bird. Left alone and
observed through the CCTV, the bird will relax
and again drop the painful wing, close the sore
eye or lift the weight off an aching leg.
When we see the bird is showing no signs of
discomfort, we know it is fit enough to be
released and will have a good chance of
surviving in its natural habitat.
Hedgehogs also hide their injuries when
frightened. An infra-red camera was set up in
one of our local soft release pens.
All activity in the pen was recorded onto video
using timer switches. The door of the release
pen was open and the hedgehog under observation
was going out to forage for food and returning
to the safety of the nest box for the day.
Watching the recordings we could see that she
was limping badly on one of her back legs. We
took her out of the nest box to examine her and
because she was frightened by the disturbance
she showed no sign of a limp she even ran
across the lawn. Without the CCTV, we could not
have known she was in trouble.
|Simon in the
Increasing our knowledge
|THE use of CCTV also gives an
excellent opportunity to observe behaviour.
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
The welfare of our patients is paramount. No
experiments are carried out to induce stress
we record normal activities at the Hospital and
only this behaviour is studied.
We simply wouldnt have the time to do all this
vital but time-consuming work ourselves, but we
do spend a great deal of time supervising the
students and organising projects which are
beneficial to both students and Gower Bird
Stam, our most recent M Phil student has studied
more than 1,000 hours of video recordings of
hedgehogs over-wintering at the Hospital. These
are young hedgehogs too small to hibernate.
Like many other wildlife hospitals, our
protocols are to keep a number of hedgehogs
together in a designated room. We provide as
much variety as possible using dry leaves and
bark chippings on the floor, a selection of nest
boxes and different foods.
As hedgehogs are normally solitary animals, we
were worried that close confinement with others,
even if siblings, could result in stressed
We had already observed signs of bullying this
simply wouldnt happen in the wild as the
hedgehogs would always be able to move away from
each other. Our concern was that the unnatural
confinement might be leading to aggressive
The hedgehog room was flooded with infrared
light and four cameras recorded the hedgehogs
activities. Different groups of hedgehogs were
filmed all-male, all-female, a mixture of
sexes, different sizes.
When this study is complete it will answer some
important questions and hopefully, will improve
the quality of life for over-wintering hedgehogs
across the country!
||A still from the infrared CCTV, the screen
has been split into four to record as much
hedgehog behaviour as possible.
Gower Bird Hospital relies entirely on donations, if you would
like to make a donation on line, click the button below or complete
a monthly standing order to the hospital, please print our
donation form and
post it back to us. This form also includes the Inland Revenue Gift
Aid declaration that enables us to reclaim the tax that would
otherwise be kept by the treasury.
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Gower Bird Hospital, Valetta, Sandy Lane, Parkmill,
Swansea, SA3 2EW
Tel: 01792 371630,
Fax: 01792 371412,
Reg. Charity No. 1053912
The pictures and the text on this website are not in the public
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Pictures: © Chinch Gryniewicz
Text © Gower Bird Hospital
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