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Fledgling adoption by magpies

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Old Monday 5th November 2018, 03:15   #1
petit oiseau
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Fledgling adoption by magpies

hi everyone

just wondering if anyone has observed an australian magpie fledgling being adopted by another magpie couple. I have recently spoken to a knowledgable academic in this space who is of the view that while flock birds seem to welcome adoptions this does not happen with magpies. I was wondering if anyone has observed this kind of behaviour. I would love to hear about it.

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Last edited by petit oiseau : Monday 5th November 2018 at 03:17. Reason: forgot to specify australian magpie
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Old Tuesday 6th November 2018, 03:05   #2
petit oiseau
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Originally Posted by petit oiseau View Post
hi everyone

just wondering if anyone has observed an australian magpie fledgling being adopted by another magpie couple. I have recently spoken to a knowledgable academic in this space who is of the view that while flock birds seem to welcome adoptions this does not happen with magpies. I was wondering if anyone has observed this kind of behaviour. I would love to hear about it.

cheers
petit oiseau
hi everyone looks like this is rarely seen...Background to my enquiry is that my partner spotted a baby magpie on the road last weekend and its parents trying to get it off the road. We spun around and managed to get there in time to get it off the road. It was asleep. I have concluded it was heavily concussed but we were unaware at the time. We went looking for its parents and left it high up on a branch in a tree with those we thought were its family. Next day we went back in the afternoon and it was still there. The family had gone. We took it home...Long story short I contacted a leading academic, local wildlife etc wondering if our local magpie couple would adopt it as their nest failed this year. The feedback was not optimistic. I started feeding it at great frequency as that is what was required.

Concerned it would fall behind its contemporaries I started working outside on our terrace and took the bird with me so he could wander around and try to learn to fly. I spent the last 6 days gradually creating opportunities for exposure with the local mapgie couple. Through a series of fascinating exchanges I found myself engaged in some kind of shared custody with this magpie couple which ended in an adoption. I am still stunned by the experience. I knew little about magpies a week ago but have read avidly since to understand what was going on. The little bird is now flying between gums in our park and has formed a strong bond with the male magpie who feeds it and the female who has taken up territorial duties. I am hoping I have done the right thing here and this little bird will make it. It would be so nice to hear that someone else had this experience and it worked out well :)

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Old Tuesday 13th November 2018, 10:50   #3
petit oiseau
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Hi everyone

just thought I would post an update. It has been 10 days since 'trevor' the little fledgling magpie was adopted by our local magpies. He has been ushered around their territory from tree to tree by his dad. Watching this I noted how important the proximity of adjacent trees must be to fledgling magpies and their chances of survival.

I have not seen the female magpie have anything directly to do with trevor other then babysitting. She appears to spend her time on the occasions I have observed her protecting their territory.

The male drops in for supplementary food for himself and Trevor in the morning and evening when he sees me. I mostly hear trevor being fed but I have seen him on a few occasions. I gave in and called out to him a few days ago, he was high up on an electricity pole but I saw him looking around as though he recognised my voice. A couple of days before he left we were listening to a raucous cockatoo screaming into the hollow of one of the trees in the park and to my amazement he imitated the cockie screaming. I had no idea they could do that!
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Old Tuesday 13th November 2018, 11:13   #4
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Amazing behaviour you've recorded petit oiseau.

Your magpies aren't related to the ones found in Europe, so I don't know much about this family. But it appears they are co-operative breeders and immatures and other adults may help with raising the next brood, so it's possible the adults 'asked' this one sto hang around for this purpose? (Just guessing of course).

You can read more about them in The Opus article here.

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Old Yesterday, 01:23   #5
petit oiseau
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Hi Delia

thks for the opportunity to post :) Apologies if I have posted in the wrong section? I think you are right european magpies are quite different from Australian magpies. I have no idea why this magpie couple have taken this little fledgling in but their nest failed so they dont have any chicks this year. I guess it could be that they will allow this one to hang around to assist in raising their next brood. I dont know. What I have read so far suggests magpies in my area which is Canberra and in the snowy mountains where there are just a magpie pair do not engage in cooperative breeding behaviour. Apparently cooperative breeding has been observed in other states like Victoria. Perhaps thats why the academic I spoke with was so pessemistic? I am not sure. I will follow up and see what I can find on that. I guess the opportunity for adopting a fledgling under normal circumstances would have to be rare.

Trevor was a nestling who probably left the nest a few days early.I formed this view because while my partner was holding him when we picked him up off the road after a while alot of liquid and faeces and what we subsequently thought were fly maggots emerged over my partner arm. I followed up and believe this was a faecal sac which forms 20 mins after feeding of nestlings and the parents take it away to keep the nest clean.

A quick update though :) I couldn't hear Trevor being fed yesterday when I went out. Lately he is being taken further away into their territory from tree to tree. I was a little concerned thinking maybe something happened. However today the male magpie appeared and he ate alot of the food I gave him and didnt seem interested in taking extra the way he normally does for Trevor. However I persisted and he took some mince and started separating it into small pieces before collecting it and flying off. he disappeared behind some rooftops but I couldnt hear Trevor crying to eat. The male magpie came back to the other side of the park and I heard Trevor crying to be fed and realised that he was on the ground following the male magpie learning to hunt! I think this might explain why the male magpie has been coming less frequently the last couple of days. I believe this is an important milestone for Trevor. He is now able to leave a tree and follow his dad around to start the process of learning to hunt for himself :) I was very excited to see this :)
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