Appeal as Highland bird rescue centre faces collapse due to coronavirus crisis

A rescue centre in the Scottish Highlands which rehabilitates birds of prey before releasing them back into the wild is on the brink of collapse due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Blue Highlands Bird of Prey Rescue Centre in Brora, Sutherland, needs to raise £5,000 in a fortnight or will be forced to close.

It is currently caring for 68 birds and had been planning to build five outdoor enclosures and three aviaries.

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Now the lockdown has forced fundraising events to be cancelled and income streams have dried up.

Blue Highland rescue centre could be forced to close due lack of fundsBlue Highland rescue centre could be forced to close due lack of funds
Blue Highland rescue centre could be forced to close due lack of funds

A break-in recently forced organisers to spend thousands of pounds on a new security system, but it is feared doors could close for good within a month if cash is not raised.

Assistant director Jane Wilson said: “We are already using our emergency fund and by the end of this spring fledgling rush we’ll be £5,000 down.

“We recently installed a new security system following a break-in and bird theft, costing thousands - of which our wonderful community raised £1,000 – and now we need to replenish those funds in order to continue our work.

“We'’e being brought new admissions multiple times a day right now but if we don’t hit our fundraising target we’re going to have to start turning people away.

Blue Highland, based in Sutherland, offers help for all sorts or birdsBlue Highland, based in Sutherland, offers help for all sorts or birds
Blue Highland, based in Sutherland, offers help for all sorts or birds

“Continued lockdown in Scotland is extremely welcome for protecting our communities, but pushes our fundraising options, education programme and community activities further away, stripping us of funds we desperately need to continue our vital work.

“We’ve already had the discussion that if our funds do not improve dramatically we’re going to have to close our doors within the next four weeks.

“Blue Highlands have been offered a funds match from within the crowdfunding community but we have to hit our initial £5,000 target first – and time is running out.

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“We never say no when someone calls or brings a bird to the centre because we’re equipped to help.

“But the reality is that we simply cannot continue without a significant funding boost.”

As well as paying out more than £600 for food each month, the centre has to cover electricity bills, veterinary costs and the purchase of specialist equipment.

Ms Wilson added: “We need to get the aviaries and enclosures ready as soon as possible so we can transition the recovering birds for wild release at just the right time.

“Wild release is time-sensitive for some birds.

“If we get in an adult fieldfare, for example, and don’t get it to full strength and out within the migratory window then it misses its chance.

“They then can’t go, and have to hunker down for another year before they get the chance again.

“But we’re also facing a capacity issue. We simply will not have the space.

“Many wild birds will raise their first nestlings and help them to fledge but some then go on to have a second clutch of eggs.

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“So we have a spring rush for a few weeks, but because of these second broods we get a summer rush as well.

“Time is of the essence and we’ve reached a crisis point.”

So far £2,050 has been raised of a £10,000 target.

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