A TINY days’ old bird left for dead after being savaged by a cat has been coaxed back to health after round-the-clock care by a determined animal-loving Black Isle teenager.
The miracle survival story unfolded when the injured blackbird was brought into the Munlochy Animal Aid shelter shortly after the attack, which happened in the Inverness area.
Sadly one of its siblings succumbed to injuries during the same attack after being left helpless and still unable to fly on the ground.
Totally unresponsive when brought into the sanctuary, the battered bird was seen by on-duty part-time staffer Freda Murray (17), who offered to look after it if he survived the ordeal.
After being taken to Dingwall-based Conanvet for treatment, the tiny bird was entrusted to Freda who began round-the-clock care after taking expert advice.
She said: "It was totally unresponsive when it was taken in and its eyes were closed. It’s feathers were badly damaged on its back and it was just sitting there."
She nicknamed the bird Stuart Black.
Put on a course of antibiotics, Stuart initially needed feeding every 20 minutes, Freda setting an alarm to ensure she didn’t miss any, coaxing him back to strength with a diet of meal worms and waxworms.
His remarkable recovery delighted both Freda and animal sanctuary boss, Iona Nicol, who said her young charge had done "an amazing job".
She said: "It sees her as its mother."
Freda, who is studying animal care, plans on carefully releasing Stuart back into the wild under expert guidance.
She said: "I was pretty knackered. We thought he was a starling at first which is why I called him Stuart. He totally imprinted on me and sits on my shoulder. I’ll look after him until the time is right. He’s a wild bird and so belongs in the wild. Ideally we’ll find a blackbird roost.
"He’s getting his primary feathers in now and is able to fly a bit now."