The curious tale of Benjamin Bulbul

Our next door neighbours are top people. They have 12 rescue dogs at home. They try to rehouse them but if they can’t then they keep them. The minimum they have had in the last 3 years or so is probably 7. But 12 is the current number. The dogs bark a lot and sometimes drive us mad but usually it is in short bursts. Frankly we are happy to put up with this rather than see the dogs put down.

Two days ago D was out but sent me a text saying it seemed 2 baby bulbuls had fallen out of the nest in his mango tree. One had fallen on his side. It was small, weak and had died almost immediately. The second bird, let’s call him Benjamin, was somewhere on our side. Could I have a look?

Of course I went straight out. I donned a rather swish pair of rubber gloves, the sort the doctor puts on to check your prostate. Ladies, be grateful. Be very grateful. There is a real risk of H5N1 bird ‘flu virus in HK. Although much is made of wild birds dying and being possible vectors the evidence is almost non-existent. The likely source is domestic poultry kept in overcrowded and/or unhygienic conditions. The other reason for wearing the gloves was so as not to get the smell of humans (I think I just about qualify) on the bird if the parents were going to try and feed it.

Now Benjamin was cowering behind the flowerpots in the corner. I could tell straight away he was a feisty little B. He gripped me tight and then suddenly wriggled and flapped and was away, dragging himself across the lawn. I moved him slightly closer to the cover of the wall but visible enough so the parent birds could see him easily. And there we left him. I tried to find him some juicy caterpillars but failed. Shortly afterwards he was under a bush and this was presumably his survival instincts kicking in.

The next day I searched the garden. No sign of Benjy. We feared the worst.

This morning as soon as I stumbled downstairs the maid called “Sir Andrew, the bird is back!”  And so it was. The little tinker was half way up the stem of our Firecracker vine. Benjy was clearly made of strong stuff. I suspected from his encounter with me that he was not far from fledging and his parents evidently felt they could save him. I set up my SX50 HS on a tripod and decided not to go out into the garden so as not to disturb the feeding regime. So these few images are through double glazing over a considerable distance. In summary, they are awful. They do prove however that sometimes there can be a happy ending. The usual advice if you see a baby bird fallen out of a nest is to leave it alone. And this was the right course here as the parents were smart enough to get the bird under cover and carry on feeding it without my help. The gloves served their purpose, I hope.

Benjamin Bulbul – the star of the show.



RWBfeedingA big round of applause also please for Mr & Mrs. R. W. (Red-whiskered)Bubul.



16 thoughts on “The curious tale of Benjamin Bulbul

  1. What a happy ending! Despite being taken through double glazed windows these photos are fabulous Andrew and you’ve done yourself proud, both as a photographer and for saving young Benjamin’s life. I’d have never have thought to have worn gloves so that’s a top tip you’ve passed on there. I’m also rather impressed with how clean your windows are…I think Mrs Nev needs to get out the vinegar and newspaper pronto.

  2. Andrew, I loved this little story of heroics that resulted in a good save. Photos are very nice and as Lottie wrote,those windows are awfully clean. ” I da never thunk” that these pics were shot through a window. Benjamin Bulbul sort of reminded me of Lulu when she was a pup. Cute, with dark bright eyes and, a fluffy chest. 🙂

  3. Unfortunately round our neck of the woods it wouldn’t stand a chance. If the cats from our neighbours, all eight of them, didn’t get him, the magpies certainly would. They nest in the big pine tree two gardens away from me and raid all the other nests. Their not too scared about having a go at the gulls nests either.

  4. What a lovely story. 🙂
    Rescues all round, starting with your amazing dog rescuing neighbours, to you and your care and compassion for little Benjamin.
    As Lottie has said, I would never have thought about wearing gloves either, so excellent advice.
    I rescued a bird who was stuck in our local multi storey car park a couple of years ago, and the pleasure to see it fly off was an amazing reward.
    Your photos, are fabulous as ever, I’d never have thought they were through glass.

    • It seems the cleanliness of the windows is quite a feature in the comments. Like many HK families we have a live-in domestic help and she takes credit for keeping the entire place tickety boo. Thanks for visiting, Vicky.

  5. Now that’s a fantastic and heartwarming story to start the day with Andrew, as Mike says, around most place, an out of the nest fledgling wouldn’t stand a chance, Great photo’s of a plucky little ‘un, who hopefully has a great chance at life now.. Benjamin Bulbul, a star in the making… and of course his supporting cast… 🙂 … (i suppose I’d better mention the windows too, ‘cos Ours are being put to shame by the sun (I think that yellow ball int’ sky is called that 😉 ) showing all the dirt .. Yikes!! … xPenx

    • Pen, the bird is lucky it is in the back garden which is walled. No cats. If it were out t’front the local moggies would have taken it by now or maybe even one of the Coucals, a large crow pheasant, which predates eggs and small chicks. I am worried the rain will give it problems today but we are hoping not.

  6. Excellent husbandry, Sir Andrew. A very happy outcome indeed. As with many others here, such would be a difficult event hereabouts with the domestic and feral cats as well as coyotes and owls.
    No walls about our yard, nor a fence, so it is a nocturnal hunting ground.

  7. We had a baby magpie falling out of our Manchurian pear tree last spring. Amazingly enough our dog, a Jack Russell, knew we were trying to safe it from starving as its mum would not feed it on the ground, and the dog stayed away from the little bird.
    I loved your photos Andrew. Well done, and nice neighbors to save stray dogs from the cruel fate so many face daily.

    • Thank you Gerard. You must have a dog in a thousand. We deliberately kept Lulu well away from the action as I am sure if nothing else she would have been curious. She eats many things but hopefully birds are not on the menu.

    • Thank you Chris for taking the time to comment. I am still tracking Benjamin Bulbul and he is now quite mobile and moving around the gardens but as he does so he becomes more vulnerable. We have our fingers crossed.

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