This little fledgling found an unlikely surrogate parent in a Northumberland solicitor after falling from his nest.
Nicknamed Cuthbert, the tiny bird is lucky to be alive after being plucked to safety and hand-reared by Blyth-based solicitor Keith White.
Mr White, 48, who lives in Bedlington, has lovingly cared for and fed the baby house martin every hour for the last two weeks after he was found in Boulmer.
And now Cuthbert is preparing for the flight of his life as he gets ready to join a colony of house martins set to migrate to Africa for the winter.
Mr White, a partner with Cuthbertson’s Solicitors – the inspiration for Cuthbert’s name – rehabilitates rescued wildlife in his spare time and could not say no when he received a call from Blyth Wildlife Rescue about the stricken bird. And the little fledgling has not left his side since.
Mr White, who is a former wildlife officer at Northumbria Police, even takes Cuthbert to work with him, hand-feeding him every hour to build his strength up.
The bird, who measures just an inch-and-a-half (3.8cm) in length, has been fed on a diet of dried mealworms soaked in water.
Mr White, who is also caring for three rescued owls at his Bedlington home, said: “A couple of weeks ago, I got a call from Blyth Wildlife Rescue who said they had a fledgling who was only a couple of days old and needed feeding every hour on the hour. It was found on a grass verge in Boulmer by a passer-by who took it to a vets in Alnwick.
“We get the normal garden birds like blue tits, but it’s unusual to have a rescued house martin – I’ve never had one before.
“A lot of them don’t tend to survive but Cuthbert has never flickered, he’s quite a hearty little thing.”
He added: “He thinks I’m his mum as every time I put my hand in the box, he squeals for his food. Sometimes if I’m out of the office and I come back in and he hears my voice, he will chirp.
“Fortunately, he sleeps at night so I am not up every hour in the night, but I do feed him if I put the lights once I’ve gone to bed in case he thinks it’s daytime.”
Cuthbert is expected to be released back into the wild this week and Mr White says he will miss the little bird.
“I will be thinking, ‘Oh no, is he going to make it’ when we let him go,” he said. “It’s a shame in one sense I didn’t know the exact location of the nest so that when he migrates he can come back to the same place but he will probably go with a flock and come back with them.”