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With immediate effect, Starlight Trust will be closed to new intake. As you’ll be aware, we’ve been closed to rodent intake since March 2020 because of the pandemic, but this will now extend to pigeons as well. We anticipate this to be the case until at least the end of 2022. I’ve set out the reasons for this below

  1. The primary driver is lack of space. On paper we have space for about 40 resident pigeons between our two satellite aviaries and the one we have here. We currently have 49 pigeons who are either confirmed as needing or expected to need permanent sanctuary. Partly due to an increased demand for space for abandoned domestic pigeons, 22.5% of the pigeons we have taken in so far this year have needed permanent sanctuary. You don’t need to be a mathematician to see that these figures just don’t add up. We’ve also lost one of our release aviaries which means we’re struggling to facilitate safe, supported releases for the birds we can return to the wild as well.
  2. The second driver is my health. You may be aware that I have a connective tissue disorder and I have been experiencing increased symptoms of late.  I’ve had numerous injuries this year and I’m currently nursing issues in both arms and one leg which means basically every movement is painful. Keeping 50 animals clean, fed and cared for when I’m in pain is not easy. But, more importantly, I don’t want to be in a place where the animals aren’t getting the care they deserve because of my physical limitations, and we’ve flirted dangerously with that line a few times this year.
  3. The third thing is the pandemic situation. We stopped rodent intake last March because we couldn’t rehome safely (for the animals or for us) as Dave is Clinically Extremely Vulnerable. We’ve managed to continue taking in pigeons but with all restrictions being lifted and CEV people being left to take their chances during a terrifying increase in cases, we feel very unsafe going out which means vet visits are stressful. I can’t be in a position of needing to choose between causing Dave stress and harm and not getting an animal the vet care they need.

Starlight Trust is not closing. We have 67 animals in our care of which the majority are permanent residents so they’ll be keeping us very busy for some time to come. We also remain available to any animals we have rehomed or any pigeons we have helped previously should they need us in future. Our work on HelpWildlife is getting increasingly busy and already this year we’ve helped around 2000 animals through our helpdesk on top of another 175,000 visitors to the site to make use of the advice and resources on it. We’ll hopefully be able to restart our free pigeon poo testing service when things calm down a bit and we have ideas for other online projects that we’ve not had time to pursue as well. So we’re not closing, just refocusing. I really do hope we’ll be back to taking animals in at some point in the not too distant future as well but our online work means we can continue to help animals whatever the situation with our space and health.

We’ll be sending this message to all those who support us with regular donations so that they can make an informed decision as to whether to continue donating to us or redirect their support to another charity.

I hope you understand why we’ve made this decision but if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch (


Sarah & Dave

Our response to the Coronavirus pandemic

As Dave and I both have underlying health conditions, with Dave’s putting him in the ‘vulnerable’ category, we’ve had to respond quite quickly and drastically to the threat posed by Covid19.

With effect from 12th March 2020 our operations have had to be strictly limited.

Pet Rodent Rescue

Initially, in terms of our work with pet rodents, all rehoming was suspended. This is because we are concerned about whether we can adequately assess new homes with the restrictions in place. Yes, we can do homing calls by phone or homechecks by Skype but we like to meet all of our adopters in person and see them interact with the animals to make sure it’s a good match. Keep in mind that we operate from our small home where it wouldn’t be possible for people to come in and for us to be 2 metres apart.


With effect from 23rd June we have reopened adoptions but with some extra criteria applied. You can find out more at

Given the difficulties involved in rehoming as a home based rescue, we will not be taking in any more rodents until the pandemic is totally over and all need for social distancing is gone.

Pigeon Rescue

We are managing to continue almost as normal with our pigeon work. Recovered birds can be delivered to our release aviaries using social distancing and new patients can be left in our porch (by prior arrangement). We are being a little careful about what we admit, being mindful that vet visits would be very risky for us at the moment, but we are able to handle most of the common illnesses and injuries we see here without needing vet visits.

Online work

This is unaffected and, in fact, we’ve been able to increase what we’re doing here by adding a ‘helpdesk’ function to which enables visitors to the site to quickly get in touch for bespoke advice and help with finding a wildlife rescue. This has coincided with the busiest time of year for wildlife rescues with lots of baby animals around so the helpdesk and facebook group are keeping us quite busy!


Very kindly, some supporters have been in touch to ask whether we are ok financially. Luckily, fundraising events such as fetes and fayres, have never been a significant part of our fundraising. Most of our income comes from single and regular donations. As such, our income is, so far, largely unaffected and we are lucky to have a small reserve in place which means our operating costs are covered for at least the rest of the year. Operating from home and with no staff keeps our costs low and Dave and I will always support the charity if needed.

Many rescues are not so lucky. They have rent to pay, animals needing surgeries and huge food bills, and their income is reliant on adoption donations and fundraising events. If you are in a position to, please consider making a donation to a rescue in this position.

As and when there are any changes to this, we’ll update this post.


Sarah & Dave

Our 2019

For the third year in a row, it’s our work with pigeons which has dominated. The 126 animals admitted comprised 1 wild mouse, 24 domestic rodents, 8 domestic pigeons and doves and 93 wild pigeons. For the fourth year in a row our number of admissions was higher than our average which is now 87 animals for each of our 11 years of operation. In total, we’ve taken in 1044 animals, rehomed 513 and released 239.

Of course, we’re far from the only animal rescue talking about how many animals they have helped this year. I must admit it always makes me feel a little inadequate. The big rescues are helping thousands and even other very small rescues are helping several hundred. I have to remind myself that the work of the Starlight Trust is much more than ‘just’ the animals we take in.


More than 168,000 used and we launched a huge revamp of the site this year, enabling rescue owners to claim and manage their listings in the rescue directory.

More than 400 people posted in the HelpWildlife facebook group and received advice on how to help a wildlife casualty.

And this year we started offering faecal sampling to other pigeon rescuers and were able to help at least another 40 pigeons by letting their rescuers know what parasites they needed treating for.

Back to the rescuing and this year we were able to upgrade the permanent aviary at HQ from the 6×6 Purple Pigeon Palace to a 8.5×9.5 aluminium replacement. This had been a dream for a while and I’m so proud that it’s done and our resident pigeons have a much nicer habitat.


I’m proud too that, although the numbers of animals we help isn’t world-changing, we continue to work to a really high standard – our overall success rate with pigeons is 80% and, in 2019, was actually 85%. We keep learning and improving as we go!

I want to take a minute here to say that, although ‘Sarah’ might be the name you most associate with Starlight, there is actually a small team of people without whom none of this would be possible. I’m not going to name names as I would be devastated if I forgot someone but, if you’ve transported, fostered, helped with the website, promoted our adoptable animals, sent out sponsorship certificates, moderated the HelpWildlife Advice Group, or helped in some other way THANK YOU for your invaluable help. Thank you too to everyone who has donated – we couldn’t do this without your support either.


So, what does 2020 hold? We fully expect the next year to be pigeon dominated again. We’ll be offering faecal testing to even more rescuers and I’m hoping there might be another related exciting development which I don’t want to jinx by revealing just yet! Of course, we remain passionate about the care of small pets too so we’ll continue rescuing them and I really, really hope to find the time to relaunch – I’ve got big plans for that site when we can get to it. We’ve got offers of help with managing our social media so I’m hoping we can keep you better informed and share more useful stories and information with our followers. We could definitely use more help, especially with aviary space for pigeons and with managing the websites so do please get in touch if you have a spare corner in your garden or some tech skills!

Wishing you a happy and prosperous 2020

Sarah, Dave and all at Starlight Trust x

Sunday Summary 18th August 2019

So it’s been a while but I thought it was about time I got back into writing Sunday Summaries. With the changes we’ve made to the website, we can now add these as blog posts which makes things easier too.

As I write, we currently have 69 animals in our care. These are

  • 42 feral pigeons
  • 11 domestic pigeons
  • 4 pet doves
  • 1 syrian hamster
  • 7 fancy rats
  • 4 fancy mice

We’ve had a few new guests arrive this week. On Tuesday, we welcomed Ariana – a racing pigeon who got lost and attacked by two cats. You can read all about her here.

Fluffy arrived on Friday. She is fed regularly by her finder who has been tending to her beak which tends to overgrow. However, Fluffy recently developed an eye infection so she’s come to us for treatment. Read all about her here.

And, finally, Saturday saw the arrival of these cuties – Ayana and Kalina. Read all about them here.

We haven’t had any releases or rehomes this week. Pigeon releases are suspended as, sadly, there has been some PMV in the resident flock again. Old friends Perky and Gonzo have come back showing signs of the virus. Happily both are doing well.

Looking for homes we currently have Andi the hamster, Caspar pigeon, Poppet and Pompei the diamond doves, & Noah and Nellie the barbary doves. If you can offer any of them a wonderful new home, please complete the application form on their page.

Finally, just a quick plug for our amazon wishlist. We’re in particular need of feeding syringes, paper towels and coxitabs but we’d be very grateful for any contributions.

Thanks for reading 🙂

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