Monday, 24 August 2015

Living Arrows - Releasing our Grey Partridge Chicks back into the Wild

 "You are the bows from which you children as living arrows are sent forth..." Khalil Gibran

It's not everyday that you come home from walking the dog with a clutch of Grey Partridge Chicks nestled in your arms.

Grey Partridges nest in dips on the ground along hedgerows and fields. Although their mottled plumage provide a wonderful camouflage ( you can walk right past a nest without having the slightest idea it's there) it can't protect them from the keen noses of foxes and dogs.
Grey Partridges are extremely steadfast and will remain upon their nest to death.
With fewer and fewer safe places available for them to nest their numbers are falling and what used to be the common Grouse is now, sadly,  considered rare.
We found these (probably no more than day old) chicks in a very agitated state beside the scattered feathers of their mother. 

After bringing them home we identified them and made them a home out of a cardboard box, lined with white paper and hay.  We also provided small logs on which the birds could perch. Their nest was a crocheted bowl and they spent most of their time in it.
We made a water trough by filling a jam pot lid with pebbles before adding the water. The pebbles provide dry footing for the birds and prevent them from paddling which would result in cold, wet birds.

We filled another jam pot lit with crushed wild bird seed and pellets and another jam pot lid with crushed turkey starter food.
We crushed the food using a mortar and pestle till it was fine and crumbly.
We also regularly topped up their home with fresh seed filled grasses for them to peck at (thankfully we're lax on the lawn-mowing front :) Their diet was supplemented with finely chopped lettuce once a day.

A kind, local farmer lent us a 75 watt heat lamp which we suspended about approx 3.5 feet over the box (high enough to not overheat the box at any rate!) and turned it on and off at hourly intervals during the night and two hourly intervals during the day (we worked in shifts to accomplish this.)

 Luckily the weather was incredibly mild and they spent most of their time asleep on someone's lap.
Although it was a far from perfect arrangement, we managed to keep it going for 10 days until the local wild animal hospital could take them in.

It was very difficult for Boo to let them go. She had in effect become their surrogate mother during this time. Although they may have looked identical she knew each chick individually. 

It was fascinating to see how different their personalities were.

Rosa was the leader, always first to explore and constantly using her siblings as stepladders in order  to get a better view of her surroundings.

Sweet Pea was always after the food and loved to snuggle in Boo's hand. As soon as Boo would pick her up she would fall on her side in the deepest of sleeps.

Little Hugo was the most timid. He liked to spend most of his time in his nest or anxiously following the others around.

Two months after we dropped them off we received a phone call from the animal hospital. Would we like to collect the chicks and release them back into their original habitat?

Of course Boo was delighted by the prospect.

We found a small woodland near the fields where they would easily be able to find, food, water and shelter.

 Sadly little Hugo didn't make it but a lone Pheasant chick who had been rescued at the same time as the Partridges and had been housed with them, came along too. Boo named her "Pippi" after Pippi Long-stocking.

While Sweet-pea and Pippi quickly found a roost in a nearby tree Rosa, ever the adventurer was first to explore her new home. Rosa the brave ventured, slowly yet steadfastly toward the turnip field beyond, pecking around as she went and occasionally turning around to see if we were still there as if to say "so long, farewell"...


Pippi, Sweet-pea and Rosa, we wish you well.

You are the bows from which your children are living arrows are sent forth… - See more at:

You are the bows from which your children are living arrows are sent forth… - See more at:
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  1. how very precious!!! such an experience to save these beautiful feathered friends and also get to be the ones to release them to their natural homes.... such a blessing xxx

  2. That is like a fairy tale! so lucky for all that you happened upon the nest. I love the detail in the feather and will forever be looking for arrows in stray feathers now. I don't think i've ever noticed that before.

  3. This made my heart swell with joy Suzy Mae. What an wonderful experience for your girls and I wish Pippi, Sweet Pea and Rosa all the best.

  4. What a lovely series!
    Every farewell is a little sad, hope, they have a good free life.

  5. What a beautiful story...

    Your children live a magical life. I hope they realize it. But they will, someday, when they look back. :-)

  6. Oh this is so lovely, the nurturing and connection to the outdoors.Beautiful photos that tell the story perfectly x

  7. Fabulous post and you've given these feathered friends the best possible start in life.

  8. A soulful life, what a wonderful thing. Filled with family, nature and all of life many pleasures, you are a lucky lady! Tom The Backroads Traveller

  9. Oh what a precious story! What a wonderful experience for your children, and such a beautiful ending!

  10. Really amazing scenes you captured. Thank you for linking in with the "Through My Lens" photo meme.

    Mersad Donko Photography

  11. How lovely to be able to release them back into the wild - they seem so vulnerable when they are so tiny - I can understand the children being upset though - I would be too.

  12. Oh wow, what a wonderful way to end the story and how sweet of the wildlife centre to involve you in releasing them back. I think I'd be sad too, they're really cute!

  13. Thank you for visiting my blog today. I'm very happy to come over and be taken with the beauty of yours :)

    I love how the Khalil Gibran quote echoes the arrow marking on the feather.
    You have created a wonderful, magical life for your children. They are fortunate souls, and will grow to be kind, nurturing, incredible adults.
    Wishing your wee rescued partridges a long, safe and happy life.

  14. So sweet!
    Thanks for linking up at

  15. So lovely! Really enjoyed reading about your adventure - just wonderful for the kids, who I'm sure will always remember it. Wonderful too for those little chicks, to be found by such a kind, caring family.

  16. What a sweet tale! Must have been so exciting for the girls!

  17. It must have been so bittersweet watching them go. How wonderful for the kiddos though! I loved all the photos, thanks for sharing x


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