Mudlark behaviour

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ross.dalrymple
ross.dalrymple's picture
Mudlark behaviour

I noticed a Mudlark or Pee Wee with string around his foot perched on the rail of my balcony he was skreeching at me and carrying on until I realised he was seeing his own reflection in the window I was looking through Ha! He didnt look as though he was doing well so I put out some water and rolled oats (I didnt have anything else at the time) with the idea of catching him to remove the string. But he proved to be very smart. I put out some wild bird seed for about 3 or 4 weeks but the doves threw it all over the place,so I stopped putting anything out at all for a few days but continued to replace the water daily, on the third day I noticed the Mudlark was putting worms  beetles and bugs in the water? I put out some rolled oats again this morning and I got one worm in return,I just checked again at 2pm and theres a pile of bugs in there again? Any idea whats going through his mind? Does he think that the bird in the window (me) is leaving the food and water out and hes repaying in kind?  Or is he soaking them to soften them up to feed the babies etc...etc...? Does anyone have any idea?

Wollemi
Wollemi's picture

The magpie lark (peewee or mudlark) is an insectivore. He maybe softening the bugs and worms and kind of running a bit of a larder in the water dish. He does need that string removed from around his foot.

You would be well advised to phone your nearest wildlife rescue group and ask for some help in catching him so the string can be removed. He may well be in a great deal of pain, or it may have got to the point he no longer feels the pain because the nerves in the foot are dying/dead.

magpie larks have been known to attack the birdy in the window or mirror (reflection). He may be trying to woo the bird in the hope of mating by leaving food there.

ross.dalrymple
ross.dalrymple's picture

I rang the RSPCA,they fobbed me off to a wildlife refuge who fobbed me off to another one etc ...etc... so after getting the runaround over and over again I tried to catch him myself,hence the rolled oats and wild birdseed that I used for bait but he was too smart for the old box propped up on a stick and string trick,Ha! Eventually the string around his foot came off on its own and I noticed his foot that was always tucked up next to his body was lumpy looking like he had tumours on it? I havent seen him for a while now so he must have been driven off by the other Mudlarks or he has died? Ive noticed a few Mudlarks here in Geraldton with these tumours on their heads and feet and they dont last long when they get it.Ive googled it but havent come across any studies that have been done on this phenomena? The Mudlarks must be feeding their chicks with the rolled oats because Ive seen them gather up a beakful of oats dip it in the water then back in the oats so that more sticks on and then take off presumably to the nest to feed the chicks,so the chicks must be omnivours at that stage? Another thing was after I had stopped feeding them and the bugs turned up in the water bowl and I started putting out the oats again the bugs stopped appearing in the water? I can only conclude from this,that Mudlarks have a theory of mind. At least that one has. P.S. I just had a thought; The Mudlark,being an insectivor, is more than likely using the oats as nest building material?

Woko
Woko's picture

I wouldn't be surprised if the Mudlarks or (Magpie-larks) are using the oats in their nests. Oats could be quite good building material for them. 

To get some idea of the issues relating to artificial feeding of birds you might want to put <artificial feeding> into the search box at the top of this page. 

ross.dalrymple
ross.dalrymple's picture

Why are you being so patronising? If you have read my posts from the start you must realise that I would have done that and only used oats and wild birdseed because I had nothing else at the time? I cant very well go and buy a bag of bugs. Ive been doing audio repairs for the last 40 years and you comment about artificial feeding is akin to someone I came across on an audio repair forum who was advising me on the dangers of electricity?

Wollemi
Wollemi's picture

Sadly nature does tend to resolve the issue of birds with illness and injury. It is interesting about birds having tumours, I wonder if their is something in the environment that is causing it? Might be worth watching out for and if you find birds with tumours see if a local wildlife organisation, or bird watching group is interested in finding out more.

Also each state has an Envornmental Defenders Office (No thanks to the government who withdrew the funding last Christmas) and they (If they still exist in your state) can and will mount an action to find out what is causing it and who is to blame and try and force it to be stopped.

For future reference:

Insectivores and many other birds feed their young insects!

You can buy an insectivore mix and if you cut very thin (worm-like) strips of meat and roll it in the insectivore it will be a good supplemental feed for birds that are sick or injured. If an injured bird needs help sometimes it can help to supplement feed them and let them get used to your presence so that it can become possible to catch them and take them to a vet for treatment. Many vets do not charge for native animals. Sometimes the end result of all the time money and effort to do that results in the bird being euthanised by the vet but that is perhaps a kinder death than slowly dying in the wild.

ross.dalrymple
ross.dalrymple's picture

Im 60+ now,I can remember back when I was a kid my parents would rescue and rehabilitate wildlife mainly birds,I used to get the insectivor supplement  powder from my father who would make it up from calcium,vitamins, etc...and mix it with pieces of meat for magpies to feed the chicks so they wouldnt get rickets.They used to come into his bedroom through the doggy door and jump around on his bed to wake him if he was late. Ive seen the results of feeding chicks meat without the insectivor powder,this person didnt know and the two chicks he rescued had grown up with flattened chests and legs that stuck out at angles but they were quite happy running up and down the backyard fence barking back at the dog next door.They had worn a track up and down the fence line,it was the funniest thing to watch.He built them a little house to live in where they could come and go and spoilt them rotten.Ive never come across magpies since that could talk like those two.  

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