A BABY bird which was being used as a ball by a group of teenagers in Newhaven is now recovering at a wildlife rescue centre.
East Sussex Wildlife and Rescue Centre (WRAS) said a local resident had contacted them after she had found them throwing the fledgling dunnock around.
The charity urged anyone who witnessed the group carrying out this “despicable” act in Gibbon Road to contact Sussex Police.
WRAS founder Trevor Weeks said: “This act is despicable, and I would urge anyone who witnessed this event to report the person involved to Sussex Police.
“When birds leave the nest they all spend time hopping around building up the muscle strength before being able to fly. During this time they are vulnerable but should be left alone, unless in the middle of a road for example.”
The local resident took the fledgling dunnock away from the group and took it to WRAS carer and Newhaven resident Carrie Grace.
She nursed the frightened bird overnight before taking it to the charity’s Casualty Care Centre in Whitesmith, on Wednesday June 20.
Carrie said: “I was contacted by a lady yesterday evening (June 19), who was rather distressed having found this fledgling being used as a ball. Apparently teenagers were throwing it around causing the poor bird a lot of distress.”
The dunnock, a small brown and grey bird, is amber listed as a species of conservation concern, due to drastic population declines in the 1970s and 1980s.
Centre assistant manager Kate Cuddis is now looking after the bird and rearing it along with numerous other injured fledgling and baby birds.
Kate said: “We are very busy dealing with the fledglings and young birds we already have in care. We have taken in more baby birds this year than any previous year due to the new facilities at our Casualty Care Centre, which has expanded over the past 18 months. They are keeping us very busy.
“Along with Trevor, I am working up to 90 hours a week.”
The WRAS Casualty Centre is running between 90 per cent to 100 per cent capacity and WRAS volunteers are working long hours to keep up with the workload.
Trevor added: “We really need the public’s help if we are going to continue taking in this volume of casualties. With rising costs of veterinary and medical supplies plus the high costs of fuel, utility bills and food, we need more support.
To donate call 01825 873003, visit www.wildlifeambulance.org or post a donation to East Sussex WRAS, PO Box 2148, Seaford, East Sussex, BN25 9DE.