Gallery: Orphan birds at East Winch RSPCA Centre

Feeding a a flock of orphaned baby birds can be like painting the Forth Bridge, it's a job that never finishes.

But staff at the RSPCA Wildlife Centre in East Winch are more than used to the task and are already catering for a clutch of new arrivals – including three young tawny owls and three blackbird fledglings.

The tiny songbirds, all cat victims from West Norfolk, are fed parrot food via a syringe while the owls enjoy a menu of day-old chicks.

The birds will gradually be encouraged to feed for themselves, ready to be released back in to the wild but in the meantime it means a feed every 20 minutes – which takes 20 minutes – and so it starts all over again.

RSPCA staff are urging people to be cautious before rushing in to rescue an orphan, because the parents are often nearby and the youngsters would be fine if left alone.

'All we ask this year is that people think twice if they come across a lone young wild animal, especially a fledgling. We would advise them to watch from a distance and seek advice before presuming the worst. The parents are often close by, and the young animals have a better chance of survival if they remain in the wild,' said manager Alison Charles.

The centre takes in a wide range of wildlife and is bracing itself for a busy time later in the year as the number of patients rises steadily.

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'The most unusual animal we've received was a toad, the poor thing had been forked whilst in a garden,' said Ms Charles. There are currently 110 animals at East Winch, but when it's at its busiest in July there will be a lot more. Last July 655 animals had to be fed and looked after, with hedgehogs being the most frequent patients. 'This is just the very start,' said Ms Charles. 'At the moment we are preparing.'

On July 10, the public will get the chance to visit the facility and meet some of the animals and talk to staff. There will also be a barbecue, games and refreshments and admission is �2 for adults, �1 for children. The event runs from 10am to 4pm.

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