Short Term Care for
Magpies and Currawongs
It is important to remember that an injured, sick or orphaned Magpie or Currawong, as with any wild animal, will be stressed when caught. It is very important that it is kept in a dark, quiet place, away from children and family pets.
If it is an adult or juvenile bird put it in a medium sized box or cage so that it cannot flap its wings. Put it in a dark, quiet place, and leave it alone for at least an hour, so that it can "de-stress".
If it is a baby bird with no feathers, or just feathered, then it needs to be kept warm. Place the bird in an artificial nest, eg: a bowl lined with paper towel. Place a lamp over the nest with a low power (around 25 watt) coloured light globe, eg: a green or red globe. If a coloured globe is not readily available, use a pearl or frosted globe. Pin a tea towel around the lamp so that it hangs down and encloses the nest, this will hold the warmth in. The temperature needs to be around 33o to 37o Celsius - no higher. If you are putting the nest in an enclosed box you will need to put a small cup of water inside the box to keep the air humid - dry air will dehydrate the bird. Place screen over the water cup, for example fly screen or netting, so that the bird cannot accidentally drown.
Do not feed any wild animal for at least a few hours after rescue - they need to have their stress levels reduced and too much human contact can send them into shock. Additionally, it is very important that you do not feed a cold animal as any food will not be digested properly and the bird may die. If the rescued bird is cold you will need to warm it very slowly - if you warm the bird too quickly it may also die from heat-stress related complications. An animal that is badly injured or sick will not want to eat. If this is the case, just leave the bird in the box until an experienced carer can collect it, or take it to a veterinarian.
Food for an adult Magpie or Currawong can include worms, lean mince or thin strips of meat. Crushed quality dog biscuits can be mixed with the meat. Wombaroo Insectivore Rearing mix or Vetafarm InsectaPro should also be mixed with the food, this can be purchased from most veterinary clinics. Do not attempt to feed the bird by hand, as this will stress it more, leave the food in the box and it will eat when it is ready.
A baby bird can also be fed the same type of food, but be sure that meat is sliced very thinly, or minced. Hold the meat with a pair tweezers, dip into water and hold above the magpies head. It will beg for the food by stretching its head up high, lower the food into it's mouth. If the bird doesn't beg then don't force it to eat. Contact an experienced carer as soon as possible.
Just remember to use your common sense when caring for a wild Magpie or Currawong. You are caring for a wild animal, it is not a pet. Keep pets, family and friends away from the animal at all times.
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