Archive for September, 2009

The two Australian Magpie chicks I’ve been looking after gave me a slight fright a couple of days ago. I was feeding them when I found that they had some diarrhoea. Knowing that it could have been just the change of diet that did it, or possibly something nasty, we took them to the Animal Hospital. They took a swab of the magpie’s faeces and put it under the microscope, and then informed us that the magpies had- Thrush. I didn’t know that birds could get Thrush, but there you go. The woman there (who is also a member of Fauna Rescue) told me that it could be stress-related, and the change of diet. I am glad it’s nothing more sinister. We were told what to give them for it, but the Thrush seems to have cleared up a bit; I’m hoping it’s passed through their system.

On the same day we received yet another injured magpie; another chick. However, it looked as though it had a broken leg, and so was taken to a nearby Vet. Turned out it did have a broken leg; there was nothing else that could be done for the poor thing, so it was put to sleep.

Yesterday, we received two Murray Magpie chicks. Somehow they had ended up out of their nest. The parents were still around but the nest was too high to reach without some aid (like a cherry picker or something). The chicks needed somewhere warm, and food and water.

While I tried getting some food into the chicks (the older quite alert, the younger about the size of a golf ball), my Mum rang the RSPCA, to see if we could perhaps get the chicks back into their nest the following morning so their parents could continue to look after them. We were told that the Murray Magpies chicks wouldn’t be out of their nest unless it was damaged- and that the RSPCA can’t help out unless someone could go out there and inspect the nest to see whether it was damaged or not (but it was very high). They also said that Murray chicks would have to be returned very quickly (almost immediately) because their parents would forget quickly that they even had chicks (which I find a little surprising).

No matter how many times I tried, however, my attempts at feeding the two chicks were rather fruitless. The younger one licked a very little off the plastic syringe I was using (without the needle on the end- just the plastic bit), and the older one was just looking for a way out. They continued chirping though, perhaps calling for their mother. At one stage the older one managed to jump out of the box, even though I had three of the flaps down. He was quite active and seemed to have decided that he could fly (though he didn’t, but he was certainly looking to).

Deciding that I wasn’t getting anywhere, and was a bit worried that I wouldn’t get enough into them to last the night, we took them both to a more experienced carer. Hopefully, she is having more luck; it seems they may have to be force-fed; which means opening their beaks and poking the food down their throats- and, believe me that can be rather difficult as they are very good at clamping their beaks shut.

This morning we received another Australian Magpie, this time an adult male. He had been found in someone’s backyard, and couldn’t fly when he tried. Knowing it could mean a broken, fractured or sprained wing, we took him to the Animal Hospital (yes, we’ve paid a visit to this same hospital almost every day lately; it’s almost a second home). The vet checked the bird over, and we could see that he’s seemed to have been through the wars. He had old wounds on the side of his jaw and back of the knees. One of these wounds was a fractured wing. The Vet said that it was already starting to heal, so she strapped it, and we brought him back home. He is a bit thin though, and the Vet told us that he may have had some difficulties hunting while his wounds were on the mend; so now we are to feed him up and hope that wing heals well. We are to take him back at the end of the week to get his wing checked again. Hopefully, all will go well.

All in all, my days have been full of Magpies.


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I’ve been keeping busy with Magpies lately. This past week we’ve been getting about a call a day. During this time, we dropped off the two Magpies I was looking after (‘Brazen’ and the younger one) to another carer, as they were both needing mentoring by older magpies and to be in an aviary as they started thinking about flying.

On Monday we picked up two new Australian Magpie chicks from the same carer to help her with the load a bit. These two are still quite young, not quite old enough to leave the nest yet. They are both relatively healthy, and have me thinking abut how they came into Fauna Rescue’s care in the first place. Quite frequently, young birds are picked up off the ground by people thinking they must be injured if they’re not in the air or up a tree. I would just like to say now; please, if you see a young bird on the ground, don’t pick it up unless you can see it is injured. Keep an eye out for the parents, as they are probably still looking after it. Young birds are often blown out of their nests, or fall out, or end up on the ground when learning to fly. If you can see the nest and it’s within reach, and the bird is not injured, however, you can try putting it back in the nest. Contrary to popular belief, the parents are most likely to continue to look after their young, even if it has been handled by humans.

However, birds do also get injured quite frequently. Chicks especially if they are blown out of trees, fall out of their nests, or are sometimes even kicked out by their parents if there is something wrong with them. The most common injuries would be a broken wing or leg and/ or concussion. If they are injured, please call a wildlife group or take the animal to your nearest veterinary clinic. For Fauna Rescue of South Australia Inc. call 8289 0896. Website: http://www.faunarescue.org.au/


On a different subject, I was feeling a little proud of myself last night; I think I might be peering out of my shell a bit more, thinking about exploring a little further away from the comfort of my ‘safe zone’ and living life a bit.

Planned on watching Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince in cinemas again with my sister, only things didn’t go exactly to plan. My sister had had a bad day and things weren’t exactly improving for her. I was wishing I’d had a Time Turner, or a way to change the times up on the board showing the movie sessions, as to perhaps add one in; but, alas, I don’t have a Time Turner and they are very dangerous to use anyway. As Hermione Granger said in ‘Prisoner of Azkaban’, “Awful things happen to wizards who meddle with time.” (Yes, I’m a big fan of the ‘Harry Potter’ series 🙂 )

Instead, we went back to my sister’s place, and she talked me into watching Dr. Horrible, which I have never seen before. I was a little sceptical about it at first, not sure I would really like it…but it turned out better than I thought, and was quite funny in places. It’s quite clever, really 🙂

So, how does this make me feel proud of myself, you wonder? Wouldn’t I be all unhappy that we didn’t get into the movie? Well, sure, I was a bit unhappy about it, but I have seen it before (it’s my sister who hasn’t yet), and we’re going to try again soon anyway (hopefully it will work out this time).

Usually, if something went wrong; if something unexpected happened and I found myself out of my comfort zone, I’d bail out. I didn’t feel ready, I wasn’t comfortable challenging myself.

Once upon my younger years, when I was still having difficulty understanding what was going on and understanding Anxiety, I had a problem with change. Take last night for example. Back then: Go to cinema but find we get there just as the adds would be starting; the day hadn’t been going well for my companion and things still weren’t going quite right. Things are too much of a hassle right now (I won’t go into details), so companion suggests going back to her place and watching something there. Back then I would have bailed and said something like “Nah, I think I’ll go back home. We can try to see the movie another time.” Last night, I agreed to go back to my sister’s, and we watched something else. Usually, I would’ve probably refused to watch something I wasn’t sure about, but this time I gave it a watch to see what I thought. I liked it.

These days I know, maybe 7 or 8/10 times when I think something bad is going to happen- it doesn’t. I guess I don’t really give things much of a chance, and you can’t avoid change. You’ve got to get out there and live a little, give things a go and get out of your comfort zone every once and a while. You can always go back to your ‘safe place’ afterwards; and guess what? You’ll find that it may have even expanded a little. You will feel better about yourself for trying something new, and won’t be quite so afraid next time. Things don’t always go to plan and there are always other possibilities. You’ve just got to be open to them…perhaps have a Plan B, just in case.

I’m feeling a little proud of myself because I didn’t just let myself freak out because things didn’t go to plan, wave my hand at the suggestion of doing something else and then going back home, back to my comfort zone. No, I coped with it. So what that we didn’t get in? Sure, the movie will be out of cinemas soon, but not yet, we can still try again to see it; and even if that doesn’t work out either, the movie will be coming out on DVD a little later in the year. Sure, I was prepared to see the movie again last night, that was what was planned; but I suppose, if you don’t let yourself expect anything, then you won’t end up disappointed.

And if I don’t welcome changes, then I will always be tempted to stay in my comfort zone and not venture out. I won’t learn, I’ll always be feeling afraid. And “a life lived in fear is a life half-lived”. I don’t want to live half a life if I can help it. I want to live it to the full. I just gotta get out there and learn how. I’ve got to do things, let changes come and leave myself open for unexpected changes and Plan Bs, Cs and even Ds.

Keep an open mind. You just may end up doing something you never expected. And you may even like it. 🙂

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I had quite a busy day today. ‘Brazen’ and the younger chick were taken to a co-ordinators place, where ‘Brazen’ could be put into an aviary to learn to forage properly (as he wasn’t eating enough live food and was at risk of taking off without really knowing how to survive). The younger was put with others of his own age. ‘Brazen’ needed to be put into an aviary, and be with other magpies, while I wasn’t comfortable having the younger here on his own as it looked like he was starting to bond with the older and was best being in the company of other birds. We like to crèche young animals as much as possible. This helps them learn to behave as they should and create colonies.

Had basically just walked in the door from getting home from an appointment, when the phone rang; another call-out for Fauna Rescue. A kid had picked up a magpie, and then it had flown out of his hands and into the garage door. They, too, had spotted a white duck with what they thought was an injured wing.

Mum, dad and I all went, as a duck would be hard to catch, unless it was seriously injured. We collected the magpie and the kids there told us where the duck was, and that it was in the water. It was a Pekin duck, and it didn’t seem to be too injured. In fact, it got into the water and swam around and ruffled its wings, as if wondering who we were and what we were doing staring at it.

The magpie seemed fine to me. The girl that had been holding it had already spoken of its strong grip (which is always a good sign), and it seemed alert though quiet. It also seemed fairly young, maybe about ‘Brazen’s’ age; its beak was mostly black, and the tips of its wings reached the end of its tail feathers. It also had a bit of brown in its grey on the back. As a precaution, however, we took it to the Animal Hospital, and they checked it out at the front desk with us there. All was fine, and we were told that it was probable that it had only just started to fly, and that’s how the kids got a hold of it, because young birds learning to fly often find themselves on the ground, and are much quieter than the adults (hence the reason why it was barely struggling).

We were hesitant of just taking it back and letting it go again, as there was the risk that this would happen all over again; the bird would try to fly and end up being picked up and cuddled by kids, or worse- caught by a dog or cat. So it was decided that the bird would stay at the hospital until a carer could come and pick it up, as we don’t have the room to look after a bird that is starting to fly.

As I have no magpies to look after for now, I can now have a break. Unless, of course, I receive one during a call-out over the next few days. Or until Monday, when we pick up three chicks from the co-ordinator to help her with her load; the magpie breeding season  has barely begun, and already we are receiving many calls to come pick up young magpies. As the Carer we took the magpies to said today. “They’re getting smaller as they come in”.

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Received the call on Choco on the 14th. Unfortunately he had multiple fractures in that wing, and so he was put to sleep. 😦

On the evening of that same day, we received yet another magpie chick. He’s smaller, and younger than the previous two. At first I was worried that he wasn’t really eating enough- but a couple days later and he is, too, calling out for food. He is also rather adventurous, and runs to bushes and tries to sit in the lower branches.

I’ve been trying to think of a name for “No-name”, and have received a few suggestions. ‘Pesky’ has stuck in my head, but then I found the word ‘Brazen’, which means bold and unashamed, and harsh-sounding. Seeing as he/ she is quite bold, cheeky and loud, I think this suits him quite well (and if he is actually a she then it still suits). Unfortunately, it can be hard to tell whether they’re a male or female for quite a while, as they all look like females at first.

Still thinking of a name for the smaller one. The first thing that I thought was ‘Happy Feet’ when I saw this little guy, as he has little tuffs of down on the sides of his head.

I’ve been keeping rather busy with this lot, as they need food every couple of hours, and these two keep calling out about every hour. I’ve left some food out there, and the younger one has already found some of it. ‘Brazen’ is always calling out for food, even though I have seen him pick up Meal worms and eat them by himself.

It rained today, and I took both magpies out into the backyard to do a bit of hunting. The little one didn’t like getting too wet and so I took him back under some cover. Meanwhile, ‘Brazen’ sat in the wet dirt that was slowly turning into mud- and played; picking up sticks and old, withered leaves of plants, playing with them for a few seconds and then dropping them. He also has a habit of testing the tatse of bark and flower petals, but has not yet got the hang of digging around in the dirt with his beak to find worms, bugs and insects. I am glad, though, that he watches flies and I await the day he snatches one from the air. Hopefully, within another week and he’ll be eating and hunting by himself. By then he may even be flying, as he’s been testing his wings lately and can make it about two or three metres before landing (or in his case, colliding with the rabbit hutch).

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Spent a little time out the back with Choco and “No-name”; didn’t see much improvement in Choco so took him to the animal hosptial. Turns out his lame wing is bruised and there may be secondary infection. He is still in the hospital and awaiting x- rays.

A couple of hours later, we got another call out to pick up yet *another* magpie chick. This one was found in someone’s yard, cold and alone. The woman watched and waited to see if the chick’s mother came down, but she was a no- show. Meanwhile the chick got soaked in the rain. Near death, the woman put the chick in a box with a towel and warmed it up using hot water in a small bottle.

“Not another one!” The man and woman at the front desk of the animal hospital laughed, as I entered and announced that I had yet another magpie for them to look at. Today they had been inundated with possums and Magpies- mostly due to the strange weather. The day started out a bit sunny, then overcast, windy and rain…and then back to sunny again. A woman had come in off the street carrying a Magpie when we had brought in Choco earlier that same day. Unfortunately that magpie was put to sleep.

We had almost made it home from dropping off the chick when the hospital called us. Mum pulled over and took the call and I sat and listened. For some reason the chick was very weak, and it was possible that its mother had kicked it out of the nest, as the chick seemed a little deformed. The Vet decided that it was best to put the poor thing to sleep.

Well, I still have one little magpie to look after, and I could hear him calling out as soon as I got to the front door. “No-name” (who really needs a name so I can call him *something*), can flutter a little distance; but he seems to be, what my mum calls, a “bottomless pit”- meaning he’s always asking for food. He’s rarely quiet.

Hopefully tomorrow I can take him out the front again and see whether the resident magpies come down and say hello. Hopefully, too, we will get a call on how Choco is. However, I do have an appointment to go to tomorrow, so hopefully I won’t miss it.

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Picked up a Murray Magpie from a Vet yesterday and brought it home. I was not confident about looking after a bird straight out of hospital, and did not think he was eating properly; so mum and I took him to another member of Fauna Rescue. In exchange, we ended up taking home two Australian Magpie chicks. One has a droopy wing, and I’ve been told that his name is ‘Choco’. I don’t know whether the other one received a name, so for now I’ll just call him “No-name” until I can think of one.

Had a bit of a dilemma this morning, as we didn’t really have any food to give them; I tried mixing Insectivore Rearing Mix with some frozen meat- but the meat didn’t thaw out quickly enough and would not break up properly. So the two youngsters only got some Insectivore and cheese. Mum then went and got some Meal Worms, and I tried the chicks on them while mum went to the shops to get an order- including dog meat and some mince meat (to be mixed with the insectivore for the magpies).

Choco and “No-name” are a bit younger than I thought, and haven’t yet got the hang of picking up their own food and eating it. I’ve also been a bit worried about Choco, as he just sits there with his wing drooping a bit. He didn’t really take any food. Finally, when mum came home with the dog food I made up a meal for the chicks.

I had boiled some water and an egg ready when mum was at the shops, so they were ready. I cut up a little bit of cheese, and dad cut some dog meat for me, while I broke up the boiled egg (including the shell) and put that in an old cup that I use for preparing the feed. I then put a couple of teaspoons of Wombaroo Insectivore Rearing Mix into the cup, and added the dog food and cheese. I then added warm water, and mixed it up. To help the chicks get used to the taste, I also added a few Meal Worms.

Choco and “No- name” were hungry, but, as usual, “No-name” ate a bit more. They sort of took the meal off the spoon I was using. I let them out of the cage they were in to do this, and they wandered over to the café blinds that were pulled down. Mum and I pulled the blinds up and watched to see what the chicks would do. They didn’t go far and were trying to eat anything but what they were supposed to be eating.

Our cat, Simba, came round the back at this point, so I picked him up and put him inside. Mum and I moved the chicks further down the garden, and I sat with them while mum dug up some worms and brought them to the chicks. Meanwhile, I had brought out the Meal Worms again and was trying to get the magpies to eat them. ‘Choco’ just sat and ignored me most of the time, while “No-name” pecked a little at things, and played with a leaf and continued calling out for food. “No-name” is much more confident, adventurous and demanding. I ended up dangling worms in the air and dropping them into the magpie’s open mouths (yes, Choco actually asked a bit). For a while the chicks sat and sun bathed a little. At one point, “No- name” even sat down and stretched out his wings to soak up the sun.

Simba then was let out the front because he may have needed the toilet, and mum and dad had things to do, so I took the magpies and put them back in their cage (it’s a big budgie cage). “No-name” continues to call out for food, but Choco just sits there; but I have seen them both preen so that’s a good sign. In another couple of hours, I will make up some more mix and give them a few more Meal Worms. Hopefully, in a couple of days, they will get the hang of finding, picking up and swallowing their own food. So far, “No –name” picks up his food and then gets stuck on swallowing it.

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Called the animal hospital today about the Australian Magpie I took in on Sunday. Bad news, unfortunately she died. 😦 I still don’t know what was wrong, as there was no information left with her records. I have e-mailed a Fauna Rescue co-ordinator about the Magpie, however, and I hope that she may have some idea as to what it was that killed the magpie. The magpie could have had other problems that I could not see, but my focus was mainly on the discolouration of the tongue. My only guesses are that she perhaps got bitten by something (as my mum suggested), or that she ate something poisonous. Hopefully this little mystery will be solved, and I will get back to you with the answer if/ when it does.

To pets now. I have always loved animals, and my family have always had pets. I mainly grew up with chooks and guinea pigs, a couple of cats, a dog, a tortoise (or is that turtle?), some fish and a few rabbits. We also had wild visitors, such as Crested Pigeons, the occasional lizard, the occasional frog (possums at one time, but I can’t remember them very well), and pests such as mice and rats (which the cats had fun catching). We lived next to a creek, and I loved listening to the Corellas when they came. Unfortunately, however, other people don’t like them so much. We also sometimes saw ducks as well; a couple of times we saw a mother duck leading her ducklings across streets near our block too. 🙂

We have less pets then we used to now though. At the moment we have some fish, a cat, a guinea pig, a rabbit and three birds (Cockatiels). We also have wild visitors here in the form of Magpies. We seem to be living in the middle of a a territory; there are nests here and there all around, and we can hear when there are chicks about. The Magpies often come down onto our front lawn for food (usually stealing out of the cat’s dish). 🙂 The most I have seen at one time is about a dozen.

I am currently tending to my guinea- pig’s feet, as they are sore. Not entirely sure what happened, but they are a bit bruised. I presume it’s because he doesn’t do a lot of running around anymore, and is content to sit in one spot (he is old). Also, for some reason, his claws are growing curved. We clip them but they still grow a little oddly. It’s possible that a claw may have punctured a pad too. Right now I am bathing his feet in warm salt water. If that doesn’t work then I may try some diluted betadine, or it’s to the Vet.

I’m always taking the risk of being hated for the rest of then night when it comes time to clip the bird’s wings again. I tend to do the holding while dad does the snipping. Fortunately, Sasha is the only one who tends to bite hard. Rye cannot since the accident a while back that saw him lose part of his beak (it has grown back mostly but he still doesn’t have a tip), and Pebbles doesn’t bite hard. Indeed, he tickles more than hurts. 🙂 Sasha and Rye have had their wings clipped before, and so can still fly a little distance, before descending. Pebbles, however, dropped like a stone. This would only be the second time that he’s had his wings clipped (we only got him just over three months ago), and so he needs to strengthen his wings. They’re never happy at first, but their wings grow back and they can always get into mischief before we trim their wings again (not like they don’t get into other mischief anyway) 😀

The Royal Adelaide Show started today. I may be going on Thursday. Don’t tend to get up to too much though. Hopefully it will be nice weather that day.

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