Reuniting Chicks - Magpie

Thursday, October 11, 2012

A young magpie, unable to fly, was found on the ground outside our front gate. It had fallen from its nest in a very tall gum tree.

It is normal for fledgling magpies to fall out of the nest and spend a couple of days on the ground. The parents continue feeding them whilst they master the tricky art of flying. However, this youngster had fallen from its nest far too early, and needed another couple of weeks to develop to full fledgling stage before it had any chance of flying.

We couldn’t get up high enough to put it back in its nest, so to provide some protection from predators (and traffic as it was very close to the road) we put a post in the ground, and attached a basket to it as a “pretend nest”.

Reuniting Chicks - Magpie

I gave the young bird a feed of “insectivore”, (which is a special formula that you mix with water) rolled into little balls - sort of like “baby magpie rissoles”.

Shortly after that, when we moved well away from the “nest”, the parent magpies came back and started to feed their little one. This was great as, had they abandoned it, we would have had to completely hand rear it, and no matter how well you do it, it does not give it the same start to be a wild bird as being raised by its parents.

We woke each morning to the sound of the young mapie calling for food, heard him all day long, and could still hear him at dusk! What an appetite! He gradually developed more feathers and then, joy of joys, tail feathers started to grow!

After sixteen days in the “pretend” nest, he took the plunge and was making his first efforts to fly. At first there was much fluttering around, and he spent the first night in our photinia bush. Over the next couple of days he became more proficient at flying, and eventually we saw him high up in the trees, still calling for food! As is normal for magpies, the parents continued to feed him for some time, until he gradually learned to fend for himself.

Images and story thanks to Kay Muddiman, WIRES Southern Tablelands

Reuniting Chicks - Magpie

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