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Archive for October, 2009

31st October ’09

We didn’t have the two magpies for very long; as we don’t have much space and the spring weather is currently more like summer, we took both magpies to another carer. The older of the two birds has gone into an aviary with a couple of other magpies his age, and an adult female who will teach them how to be proper magpies. The younger chick will be handfed for a little longer before he, too, goes into the aviary.

That same day the carer we gave the magpies over to handed us three Pacific Black Ducklings. So now we have six, the newer three slightly younger than the older. As the nights have been rather warm, they haven’t had the light on, and the six of them cuddle together too. They have water in the form of a water well (releases water into a dish at the bottom as they drink it), but they cannot get in it. So, during the day, we take them outside and give them a dish or container of water to bathe and swim in. As they get older they will get bigger, deeper dishes. However, they will be going to a new home in two or three weeks, as by then they would have outgrown their accommodation here.

 

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Received two Australian Magpies into my care yesterday; one I was expecting, and had been with a family for six days already. The other had been picked up off the road that morning. The latter is just a chick, only just starting to call out for its food and barely moving around. The other is older, but isn’t yet eating by itself and only just starting to peck at things. So at the moment I am still giving them the mix.

I tend to give Australian Magpies some Weet- Bix, occasionally some grated cheese, boiled egg, dog meat (VIP Puppy Meatloaf or if I have them for short term those small dishes of Tender Chicken dog food), Wombaroo Insectivore Rearing Mix, and then I mix it all with some water (the food should be warm for the very young).

Different carers may do it differently, or use a slightly different recipe (some use chicken frames or chicken carcass from their local butcher (the pet one that includes the bone). I haven’t included quantity either, as I tend to improvise depending on how many birds I have in my care. Some carers chop the meat up into small squares and sprinkle the Insectivore over top, and then keep that in the fridge ready for a while (it goes quickly if they have a lot of birds). Young birds are usually fed every two to three hours. Ravens tend to eat the same sort of thing, as do Murray Magpies.

There are also different ways of feeding them. Some use spoons (bent to imitate a mother’s beak), some use small tweezers, some use syringes (without the needle part, just the plastic, and must be done carefully), and others use their fingers (I usually do it this way). How to feed usually depends on the bird, its age and the situation.

For more information on rescuing and feeding birds and other animals, please visit

http://www.faunarescue.org.au/ and http://www.communitywebs.org/MintonFarmAnimalRescueCentre/default.htm

The three Pacific Black Ducklings are still here. Yesterday we had them in a cage with a small dish of water at one end. All three ducklings could fit into the dish and sat together in the water, preening. I’m quite happy to look after them until they are ready to go, but I do wish they’d be a bit quieter at night. They woke me a couple of times last night.

As it was quite a warm night, we left their light off. However, they still seemed to want to move around, even in the dark (they quite often sleep for a while, and then have something to eat and drink before going back to sleep again). Like any others, these guys don’t like being separated and I think, judging by the commotion, one or two of them kept getting separated from the others in the dark. The first time I could hear peeping and what sounded like the ducklings running around their box, I got out of bed and decided to check on them. Switching on the kitchen light (and silently apologizing to our three pet Cockatiels in case I woke them), I looked in on the ducklings. As I had thought; two were cuddled together in one corner of the box, while the third was sitting in their little shelter (a tissue box, I change them every couple of days). Realizing there was light, the ducklings gathered to together; before they could split up again, I switched off the light and went back to bed. Unfortunately, I woke again later to hear the ducklings cheeping. My sister was in the kitchen this time though, so I ignored them and tried getting back to sleep.

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Picked up three Pacific Black ducklings yesterday; these are the first Black Ducks I’ve look after so I hope all goes well. We’ve recently been told that Black Ducks and Teals like Meal worms.

As I did with the Wood Ducklings, I set up the Blacks in a large storage tub. I lined the bottom with newspaper, and put a few handfuls of straw up one end of the box. At the other end I placed their water well (that water dish with the upturned top so that whenever the ducklings drink more water comes out the bottom for them), and their food (at this age Chick Starter Crumble and some grass). I attach their light to the upturned wire lid dad made a few years back. Make sure the light is only to one end, so that the ducks can move away from the heat if they want to. These three ducklings are tiny, I’m guessing maybe a few days old. I’m not very good at guessing a duck’s age at the moment, however, so I can’t be sure; but at the moment you could hold all three in your cupped hands. Currently, they also have a small dish of mud with rainwater, as they don’t seem to be eating too much of their chick crumble.

Tiny as they are, one does seem to be a little rough with the others. At the moment I have nicknamed him ‘Plucka’, though I can’t actually tell him apart from the others yet unless he’s pecking them. Another (at least I think it’s a different one) is rather adventurous and, as my sister saw, has tried being Houdini…temporarily getting stuck behind their water dish.

The ducklings will spend the next few weeks or so under a light for warmth, day and night. However, if the days are warm enough, like today, they can be in a cage to get some sun (and they will continue to be in a cage when outside until they are bigger- so we don’t lose them).

As there are three of them, we may have to give them up to someone else sooner than we did with the Wood Ducks. This is simply because Pacific Blacks grow bigger than Wood Ducks, and there are three of them here.

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A couple of days ago, the ducklings had their first close encounter with an adult female Australian Magpie. We were out on the front lawn; I was standing on the path and the ducklings were grazing, when suddenly all three of us were startled by the sudden appearance of the Magpie. She landed very close to the ducklings, both whom squealed and ran to stand behind me. I watched the Magpie closely as she gazed at us, occasionally taking steps closer to the ducklings as if contemplating attacking them. I sat down on the path. As the magpie continued to survey us, the ducklings stayed by my side. The Magpie then walked away a little to look for food; both the ducklings got into my lap- as they have done many times before. The Magpie found some food and flew off.

Today, the ducklings, once again, raced around the yard a bit, flapping their small wings and occasionally jumping up and down. They still cuddled up to me when I sat down…but they also take more time to follow, and are beginning to show some independence. However, as we don’t have too much space here, they are very close to out-growing their temporary home. So, this afternoon, they went to their new home where they will stay with other ducks, and learn to be proper, wild ducks until they are ready to fly away.

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As always, I’ve been doing a fair amount of thinking- about life in general. I’ve also realized that I haven’t updated my blog for a while, and I do apologize. I’ve been looking after those two Australian Wood Ducklings, both whom seemed to have adopted me as ‘Mother Duck’ and frequently sit beside me, try and snuggle up to me and (when I’m sitting on the lawn) cuddly up together within my crossed legs (they do this especially if they’re startled). They are growing fast, and I swear they have more spots today than when I first noticed them appearing yesterday.

 

In the meantime, I’ve relocated a Blue-Tongue Lizard to my sister’s place. I’m sure he’ll love her wood pile.

 

Also, most recently, mum and I had to cut a young Australian Magpie out of a soccer net that it had somehow got itself entangled in. My mum held it to make sure it wouldn’t struggle, while I cut the net around the bird as I could not cut it off the bird’s leg while we were there. I don’t know how long it had been trapped in the net for. The bird also had a hold of the net with its other foot, and I couldn’t get it to let go, so I let the bird hang on to that while we took him to the Vet.

 

The Vet cut the netting off the magpie’s leg and then brought him back to us. He had his full flights (flight feathers) and a good grip, but was a bit thin, and the Vet wasn’t sure whether the bird had injured the leg that was entangled in the net. I was surprised when she said that she hadn’t x-rayed the bird. However, the bird was still using the leg and the Vet said to bring back the bird in a couple of days if we were still worried. So, not knowing whether the bird’s leg was sprained, bruised or perhaps dislocated, we took him back home to stay the night.

 

The Magpie spend the night in a large budgie cage, with no perch, some water and with a light to provide warmth. The next morning I gave him some food, a perch, and took him, still in the cage, outside and observed him, trying to see how he used his leg. Like any wild bird, he did not like being caged, and fluttered about and gripped the bars with both feet. He calmed down a little, and I watched him from inside. After a while we saw him perching; so he was using the leg alright. To get a closer observation, I stood outside a little away from him and watched. He continued to try and find a way out of the cage. I then spotted our cat on the garden wall…and so did the young magpie. He lowered himself and spied the cat as Simba (the cat) walked along the wall, and then jumped down again.

 

I had placed the magpie on a table and pulled down the café blinds, so Simba could not get in; but, of course, the magpie did not know this, and called out a warning and resumed trying to get out of the cage. So I took a towel and covered one end of the cage so the magpie could not see the cat. I then went back inside and, after a little while, he calmed down again, and even had some food.

 

Meanwhile, inside, mum, dad and I were discussing the magpie and his condition (just to clarify, I’m calling the magpie a ‘he’ but he was really too young to tell at that age). Mum was thinking that the bird was alright to release that day, but I wasn’t entirely sure. Yes, he did seem to be using that leg alright, but I couldn’t be too sure unless I let him out of the cage and watch him walk around; but then we’d have a difficult time catching him again and that would cause more stress to the bird. I suggested perhaps keeping him in our care for at least one more night to rest the leg, and to perhaps get a little more food into him, but, as my mum reminded us, the magpie was likely to continue panicking and there was risk that he would hurt himself more in the cage. So, we let him settle a bit in the cage, and then I took him out, placed him in our Fauna Rescue basket (it’s like a carry-cage/ cat basket), and we took him back to the area where we rescued him from.

 

I tried finding a tree with a low enough branch that I could put him on, but there wasn’t really one. Instead, I opened the basket and let the young Magpie fly out himself. He flew a few metres and then landed on the ground. He called out a few times and then, I’m not sure, I think he started doing a spot of hunting. Even so, I remained a little concerned. It seemed to me that he was hobbling a little. Mum and I slowly walked towards him from different directions, and he flew off and landed on a tree branch. Though his leg may still be hurting a little, he’s a strong flier and can perch. There is still hope for him, and I wish the young magpie all the best.

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Said goodbye to the four Magpie chicks on Friday, took them back to the carer who passed them onto me. They are going well, and three of them were put into an aviary with an adult female magpie so that she could teach them how to forage and be wild magpies. The fourth was to be kept inside so he can continue to test his legs, as he wasn’t walking properly. There’s nothing wrong with his legs, he just isn’t using them. He can perch, and eat and drink and is going relatively well, except when it comes to walking. I‘ve been told it could be a neurological thing.

The same day I dropped off the magpies, I was handed a couple of Wood Ducklings. I haven’t looked after one since year 11 (and that was one on its own); and I’d forgotten just how fast they grow. Today is the third day and they have already gotten bigger! 🙂

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2nd October ’09

Received a call on the 29th about a Raven; went to pick it up and found it sitting quietly in the corner of their yard. He (I don’t actually know the gender but I’ll call it a ‘he’ anyway) struggled a little but lay quietly in the basket as we took him straight to the Vet. Upon inspection, we found out that he was a fairly young raven, probably still being looked after by parents- but he was quite weak, and had bird lice. The Vet gave him some Electrolytes (hope that was the right word), and some soaked kitten biscuits. He perked up a little, and we took him home. That evening, as I was trying to find a suitable stick to put in his cage for the night, the young Raven decided he was well enough to go on a small adventure. He fluttered out of the cage and ended up on our pool table. Not wanting a mess (or lice) all over the place, I grabbed him (with a towel) and put him back in the cage. As I was quite busy with other animals (pets and the magpie chicks), it was a little while before I could get back to the raven, and give him some more food.

The next morning he ended up perching on our kitchen bin for a bit, before walking around the floor and testing his wings. That afternoon, he was picked up by another carer…who gave me another couple of Australian Magpie chicks to look after.

Each bird I get in has a different personality; some may be quite similar to others, and others are vastly different. As was expected, the two new chicks were different. Both were rather small and skinny, but one was quiet and just sat there, while the other was relatively quiet but jumped around the cage they were in, trying to find a way out.

Out of the four of them, only one is a bit older than the other three. He (I know, I call them all ‘he’ these days, while before I used to call them all ‘she’) calls out often, but seems to have imprinted on me, likes to treat me as a tree and sits quietly near me- or on me. When he does this, however, I don’t let him do so for very long, as he is a wild bird and really needs to behave like one. Unfortunately, he still asks for food, is not yet feeding himself, is only just starting to play- and is almost ready to start flying. He will go to another carer with an aviary soon, so he can learn. He is one of the two that I received from another carer on the 21st.

The second also cries out for food ever time you walk past them. His call is slightly hoarse, he is a bit skinny, and had some feathers missing from his head just above his beak. He’s not quite as adventurous as other magpies have been. Well, at least not yet. So far, he stays in almost the exact spot as I put him; sits there and cries out for food, occasionally walking a metre or so.

I’m a little concerned for one of the two recent arrivals. I noticed that he has trouble walking, and so we took him to a Vet night before last. They found no obvious injuries, however, and so we brought him back home. Yesterday, I tested him out again, placing him on a stick (one of the perches in their large cage). He can perch, but doesn’t seem to like to, and when he gets off, he stumbles off. He doesn’t seem to be able to walk either, as he always topples over when he tries; but he can stand, eats and drinks, and calls out when you stick food in front of him. Otherwise he’s been fairly quiet, and gets trodden on by the others.

I told this to the manager of Minton Farm Animal Rescue Centre here in SA. She told me to separate him from the others and give him a light for heat. He didn’t like being taken out of one cage and placed into another one. He called out more (he has a loud, bold voice- until you give him food then he squeaks like the rest do), and nipped me. Magpies do like to hang on a bit, and they pinch more than they bite. I would also watch out for their claws, which are very sharp. Birds like Magpies have a very strong grip, and both my hands are currently covered in scratches (not bad) from all the times that I’ve picked them up and had them grasp on to me.

Well, I am currently looking after four Australian Magpie chicks, giving them about five feeds a day, and medicine to two of them three times a day (until today or tomorrow). I rather thought it would be very difficult to keep my eyes on four magpies (two of them is hard enough), but as two of these guys seem to mostly stay put within a few metre radius, it’s made a little easier….except that the older one seems to think I’m a combination of both ‘Mother’ and ‘Tree’, one of the new arrivals is a little feisty (though is going well because he does actually pick things up and play with them), one seems to have possibly gained an injury to the brain before coming into care that means he has difficulty walking, and when all together I tend to have at least three of them screaming in my ears (or in the case of the oldest one, my face) for food because they are not yet hunting for themselves. *Takes deep breath* Hopefully, soon, they will all be off to an aviary so they can learn how to be magpies from older birds.

Also, I have recently noticed that one of them is talking to himself, and seems to be getting close to learning how to warble. Surprisingly, it doesn’t seem to be the oldest one, but one of the new arrivals (the feisty one). At the moment, it rather sounds like a high pitched gurgle. 🙂

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