An RSPCA wildlife centre is appealing for donations of washing up liquid to help treat 20 birds which were admitted after getting covered in dumped oil in a river canal.

The birds – 17 Canada geese and three greylag geese – were rescued by the RSPCA from a canal near Tamworth. They were all taken to RSPCA Stapeley Grange, in Nantwich, Cheshire, for assessment and to be cleaned.

If oil is not removed from waterbirds it reduces the natural waterproofing in their plumage, leaving them at risk of dying from hypothermia – so it is vital that they are treated as soon as possible.

Every oiled bird is assessed on arrival to Stapeley Grange and sometimes several deep cleans are needed to remove all the contaminate. It can be fairly labour intensive, sometimes taking two members of staff 30 minutes for each wash.

Lee Stewart, manager at Stapeley Grange, said: “Cleaning just one bird can use half a bottle of washing-up liquid, and oiled birds sometimes need to have multiple washes to be completely cleaned of the oil – so staff will get through a large number of bottles over the next few weeks.

“We will get through our stockpile of Fairy liquid pretty quickly with these oiled birds so we would be grateful for any donations.

“Our oiled birds are washed using Fairy original liquid, which is found to be the best product to remove oil from birds.

“There are reports that there are 15 more affected birds on this canal so we need to be prepared for more to come in to us. It is frustrating to think that these poor birds could have been spared so much distress if the irresponsible person who dumped the oil had disposed of it correctly.”

Donations can be dropped off at the wildlife centre in London Road, Nantwich, or at a donation point situated at Sainsbury’s in Nantwich, which supports the centre. We’re also in need of dog food (meaty loaf type) and cat food to feed our baby birds and hedgehogs – which can be donated at Sainsbury’s too.

The RSPCA would recommend anyone who sees pollution on water or land to call the Environment Agency 24-hour incident hotline on 0800 80 70 60. Concerns for a wild animal that has come into contact with oil or other contaminants should be reported to the RSPCA’s 24-hour emergency line on 0300 1234 999.

This year is a big year for Stapeley Grange, as it’s the centre’s 25th anniversary. Over this time the team will have helped over 130,000 wild, domestic and exotic animals. You can follow Stapeley on Facebook RSPCAstapeleygrange or Twitter: @RSPCAstapeley or @StapeleyCats to find out what events are planned to celebrate this achievement. You can also sign up to the centre’s quarterly newsletter here: https://www.rspca.org.uk/stapeleynewsletter