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Old Sunday 6th May 2012, 15:56   #1
bopxx
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Advice on a magpie

Hi,
2 weeks ago I found a magpie in our garden. It had been most likely shot. There was a wound on its chest and it could not fly as its right wing was damaged. I have kept it in a medium sized cage with perches. It's condition has greatly improved and the right wing is held in almost the correct position and it uses it to flap up to a perch, so I think it had been sprained or strained rather than broken. I was cleaning the cage yesterday and it managed to escape. I though it would be able to fly as I was planning on releasing it today, but it could not. I managed to get hold of it again and it is now back in the cage, but I don't know what to do with it. I really wanted to release it as it is such a pity seeing it cooped up in a little cage.

Do you think it's wing will heal and how long do you think it would take roughly? Also, if it doesn't, what should I then do with it? I just can't bear the thought of having to give up on it, it's such a beautiful bird.

I would be grateful for any suggestions and thanks in advance
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Old Sunday 6th May 2012, 17:58   #2
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If it has a serious wound then a vet is really your only option. Most take in wildlife as 'pro-bono' and that'll be its best chance. Well done for doing what you've done anyway - not many people care about our poor old Maggies!
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Old Sunday 6th May 2012, 18:17   #3
AlfArbuthnot
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The wound on the chest does suggest it might have been shot with an airgun, and so will have a pellet in the pectoral muscles (breast), which might have shattered one of the bones hinging the wing (coracoid or furcula). Sometimes, these may heal well enough for flight, and for a magpie this would be about 3-4 weeks, perhaps even 5. But it is more likely that it will not heal well enough for flight, in which case the bird cannot ever be released. You then have two options: either find it a good permanant home, or have it put to sleep. The latter is probably the most practical, as not many places will want a Magpie, and most of those that do will not be able to give it the conditions it will need. There are lots of 'rescue centres', but most are run by amateurs in their back garden with more goodwill than expertise, and we've all seen some of the horror stories in the local papers of terrible conditions. There is no accreditation or licence required to set yourself up as a 'rescuer', anyone can do it, regardless of their knowledge and skills, so be careful if you approach any of them.

As such, asking a vet to do the final job may be best. It may even be better to do it now, rather than hope for a slim chance of recovery and prolong the bird's suffering. And it is important to realise that a wild Magpie in a cage, where it cannot get away from people or live a normal life, will suffer. These are one of the most intelligent creatures on the planet, more so thn Chimpanzees in some respects, so their capacity for suffering is probably similar.

I would also suggest that you give these people call to talk through some options: http://www.sttiggywinkles.org.uk/ These are the best in the country.

Last edited by AlfArbuthnot : Sunday 6th May 2012 at 18:20.
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Old Tuesday 8th May 2012, 18:37   #4
bopxx
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Thanks for the replies. I understand that magpies are extremely intelligent birds, which is why I am finding this decision so difficult. Would a vet charge me for the treatment of the magpie? And also, if the bone hinging the wing is shattered, would it be able to use it and hold it in the correct place after 2 weeks since the time of the injury, as it seems to be using it fairly well?
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Old Tuesday 8th May 2012, 20:29   #5
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Have you tried contacting your local Wildlife rescue group for information on how to obtain the best treatment.
Good to see someone cares about the much maligned Magpie.
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Old Tuesday 8th May 2012, 21:20   #6
AlfArbuthnot
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bopxx View Post
Thanks for the replies. I understand that magpies are extremely intelligent birds, which is why I am finding this decision so difficult. Would a vet charge me for the treatment of the magpie? And also, if the bone hinging the wing is shattered, would it be able to use it and hold it in the correct place after 2 weeks since the time of the injury, as it seems to be using it fairly well?
Yes, if it is the furcula (wishbone) or coracoid that is broken, the bird will hold the wing normally, but the 'anchor' that the muscles use to make the ppowerful flight action wont be there, so it just wont be able to fly, ever again. A bit like if you break your collar bone - your arms looks normal and you can use your hand to hold things, but you can't lift a mug of tea. After 2 weeks, options have started to run out, so you really need to speak to someone to find a conclusion - otherwise you could end up with a miserable Magpie in a cage for 15 years, living in abject terror (despite your very best efforts).

A vet might charge you, but do ring the helpline on the link I gave, as they will be able to advise you about what to do for the best, and somewhere to take it for free (they might even arrange a pick up).
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Old Saturday 12th May 2012, 02:54   #7
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Personally not a great fan of magpies but most wild corvids become tame quite quickly in captivity so I doubt very much whether it would be 'living in abject terror'. You may have a very entertaining new pet if it does not make a flying recovery!
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