Magpie with missing left flight feathers

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Shirley Hardy
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Magpie with missing left flight feathers

I noticed yesterday the resident adult female Australian Magpie is missing all her long wing feathers on her left wing. She can't fly and looks to be in pain when just moving her wing or balancing to eat. I saw her a little while ago today, she is still alive but her mate is extremely protective of her. He is chasing away all their offspring keeping them at a very long distance from the female.

I believe her wing feathers got ripped out by another Magpie in a recent territorial dispute, that has been going on for the last few days.

I don't intend on catching her or taking her to the vet. She is eating and appears to be mentally with it but probably is just in pain. She spends a lot of time in the shade under a big pine tree across the road. But today she seems to be seeking shade more than anything else.

I need some advice on what to do....for example, should I dig up some grubs and worms and give them to her if she and her mate come looking for food at my place (from me)? I leave a bowl of water out for the birds and change it frequently.

Will her flight feathers grow back? I'm talking about the long feathers here. Do you think she will survive?

TheBirdLover
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Hi Shirley, I think that you should chuck a few grubs or worms to her to keep her nourished and try to keep her away the road as she cannot fly. Otherwise it is probably best to leave her alone as you do not want to cause her more stress or pain. 

She may survive,but being unable to fly will be hard for her. I suggest you keep a close eye on her and make sure she isn't bothered by other people...I hope she does survive and that she can fly again soon!

M.M.

Woko
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Protect her as much as possible from cats & people sounds good to me, Shirley. Otherwise allow nature to take its course. I strongly suspect she'll forage for her own food when she's hungry.

Shirley Hardy
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For some good news the Magpie was spotted yesterday afternoon running around like normal. She knows me well but is always the weary type personality. I was so happy to see her back to normal, and that her health had improved A LOT. And one of her kids was with her under the Pine tree.

The thing is I can't actually protect her from people, animals, etc. She does have road sense though. I taught her and her mate to have road sense, along with the Torresian Crows some years back. So there's no worries of her crossing the road and being hit by a vehicle. She knows what to do and when not to cross the road when on foot.

The Magpie is currently in a paddock with 5 sheep and one cow. I'm more worried about the neighbour's dog chasing her. The dog is a bird chaser and a snake killer. So far the Magpie seems to be okay when it comes to finding her own food, although I've only seen her eat once and she had no problem eating at all. 

However, the invading family group of Magpies seem to be younger ones but I can't really get a good look at them. The resident magpies seem to have adopted a young magpie into their family and this might be where all the trouble of the invading magpies have come from. To perhaps get their kid back? There's always a family dispute with other magpies this time of the year but it never seems to be about territory though. 

Oh, whilst witnessing an external family dispute with the resident magpie family a few minutes ago, I saw all the resident Magpies fly bar one. The one that didn't fly did actually fly, sort of, but as good as a peacock flying up into a tree. It didn't screech like flying hurt. It screeched because of the other Magpies invading their space/territory and just wanted to escape to safety. I'll keep everyone updated about her progress.

I'm at Tenterfield, NSW. (Formerly known as "Hyperbirds".)

Shirley Hardy
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Here's this afternoon's update with pics. A video of her feeding is coming as well. 

This magpie has been attacked and I don't think it was by another Magpie. Going on what I've photographed of her, and video taped, she's carrying an injured left wing. It is not broken though as she can just move her left wing at the shoulder. She cannot extend it out though. I originally concluded she only had missing flight feathers on her left wing but that is not the case. She also has missing tail feathers and her right wing has feathers protruding as well. Her overall health appears to be fine, and her vision is normal. Her feeding ability is normal but she just doesn't venture very far. She does feed with her family but then needs to rest and goes back to the Pine tree area whilst the rest of the family wanders off and feeds together. Lots of communication happens within the family group, moreso than normal. 

Now going on all this new information about her left wing, I know she is incapable of flying at this point in time. If she can't extend her left wing at all, she can't use it to fly. Her right wing is fine though.

So here's some pics I took of her today, including some cropped images. Notice in the last pic her left wing is dropped down.

Pic 1. Family feeding. From left to right......juvenile; juvenile; adult male; adult female.

Pic 2. Now she's feeding. From left to right.... juvenile; juvenile; adult male; adult female.

Pic 3. Family still in immediate are. Adult female needing to rest and is momentarily laying down to rest before she got up and climbed through the fence onto the front lawn.

First 3 photos were taken by my front door, outside. I then went back inside as the rest of the family started wandering off. During that time she crossed the road by herself and headed back toward the Pine tree on the corner. The remaining two photos were taken through my bedroom window and she knew I was watching her.

Pic 4. At first glance this is what she looks like from a sort of front on view.

Pic 5. Cropped view of her missing feathers. Right hand side.

Pic 6. Left hand side. Cropped view of her protruding feathers and dropped left wing.

I'm at Tenterfield, NSW. (Formerly known as "Hyperbirds".)

TheBirdLover
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Poor thing! At least she's running around like normal again, which is a good sign. 

She definitely doesn't look like she was attacked by a Magpie. Maybe she was attacked by another large sized bird,or even a dog or cat.

Good shots, by the way!

M.M.

Shirley Hardy
Shirley Hardy's picture

I very much doubt she was attacked by a cat. The cats around here usually get their prey. Maybe a fox? Or a bird that makes the sound of "Mopoke/cuckoo". That bird was in the area around the time of her injury but is since gone. Or it could've been the neighbour's dog who is let out into the paddock every so often. It chases the entire family of magpies and also any other bird that's on the ground in it's territory. 

I also highly doubt it was from a Torresian Crow attack, although they do pull on magpie feathers but never pull them out. Come to think of it, I think there was a raptor in the area about 3 days ago too. The crows were chasing something big in the area flying about, and it wasn't a cockatoo/corella/white-faced heron/duck, and the magpies were also going mental like a big predator was flying about.

The magpie does look better although has less feathers than when I first spotted her a few days ago. She fatigues a lot but is eating. She's not exactly running but she does walk fast if she has to. Her strength was beginning to pick up today around lunch time, so that's promising. I've been watching her for most of the day and she can also poop.

Here's a video of her feeding. She stops and rests? a lot though whilst standing up.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yklUlnvK1b0&feature=youtu.be

I'm at Tenterfield, NSW. (Formerly known as "Hyperbirds".)

Shirley Hardy
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I have some wonderful news. The female magpie is flying again. When I woke up this morning and went looking for her I couldn't find her anywhere. I listened and her family was in the area but she wasn't. I thought, oh crap, is she dead? Then I began noticing something. The rest of her family were forgaging for food around the pine tree and by the side of the road where she was feeding yesterday. The rest of her family did not appear distraught. So I listened harder and heard a magpie further to the south but wasn't sure if it was her or not. I started asking the juvenile magpies where their mum is, out loud and in my mind. One of the juveniles started coming across the road to my place to feed on the bugs in the ground, from across the road. Then suddenly all the magpies took off and landed on the power lines to the south. Magpies started flying in from the south. Then suddenly this one magpie flew in from the south and landed near my front garden on the footpath. It jumped through the fence and walked right up to me - within 6 feet of me. It was a light grey colour. It was the adult female magpie. She just looked at me, and I at her, then the other family of magpies flew in from the south and she bolted to the pine tree. She flew there like a maniac in a hurry.

She was a lot more fearless than she's ever been with me. She was always timid around me but not anymore. Her mentality is stronger and more determined than ever. She's a survivor that's for sure. I was so happy to see her flying again. I always hoped and prayed she could still fly minus all those feathers. And she can and is flying. She's a miracle, and now I have a name for her "Miracle".

I'm at Tenterfield, NSW. (Formerly known as "Hyperbirds".)

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