The case of a red-backed shrike

11 October 2020 by
Saving birds Saving birds
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The car going in front of me hit him. I saw it when he was getting into a spin on its windscreen, falling on the pavement in the next lane, then writhing there for some time.


One of the memories from my teenager years crossed my mind immediately about my Biology teacher, who was taking me to an environmental protection competition by car, when suddenly an Eurasian collared dove slammed against the window loudly.


“We hit him”, I shouted.

She was just laughing, and said:

“I hope you don’t think I will stop.”


Being a child I didn’t have a choice, as it wasn’t me driving, but as an adult the responsibility was mine.


“I have to act”, I thought.


I didn’t have time to wonder any longer, so I turned back at the first corner, and started heading in the opposite direction. I could see him from a distance sitting in the middle of the road, while the cars were whizzing above his head one by one. He was a male red-backed shrike, a quite common bird in this area. I pulled over, and started to walk towards him. It came across my mind that I could signal the drivers somehow, but in spite of the importance of saving birds, I didn’t want to either cause an accident or die.


Therefore I was waiting for the situation to be safe, I picked him up, put him on the front seat, and rushed home. It had been a long time ago when I last saved birds, so I was afraid of the task a little bit, but more or less I knew what to do.


As there was a chance that he ‘was just in shock’ and he would be able to fly later, which happens in such cases quite often, my first thing to do was looking for a box for the birdy. I made some holes on it to let enough air in, then put him into the box for half an hour. A little peace is good for them after injuries.


Meanwhile I was thinking about whether he had some nestlings, who can’t wait to see him at home. The probability of that was high, because it was summer, the breeding season, so he had to recover as soon as possible. Since saved birds can’t  be kept in a box for a long time, since they need water and food, and of course to be checked by a vet, I dug out our old cage from the storage room, cleaned it carefully, and was just about to take it into the house, when my children ran to me.


“He wants to get out of the box”, they shouted.


And indeed, our shrike had totally recovered, and wanted to get out with all of his efforts. He also passed the cage test after that, was flying in it up and down, and looking for way out there too.


“Well, that was it then”, I said. “He can go back where I found him.”


So this is how it happened that soon after his accident he could fly again freely, and the dark memory of the Eurasian collared dove and another missed rescue was replaced by the case of a red-backed shrike.



(The Hungarian translation is available on



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