Raising baby Noisy Miner

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kayjay's picture
Raising baby Noisy Miner

Hi everyone,

I thought I would make a post on here to help out anyone that was in the same situation I was in a year ago. Sorry about the typo's.

I started writing this and explaining the whole situation as to how I managed to get a Noisy Miner as a (kind of) pet, but it turned into a novel, so here is the short version. Summary at the bottom.

I ran over it as a fledgling with the ride on mower, ripped out a bunch of flight feathers and crushed its foot. I tried calling everyone, RSPCA, vets, wildlife rescue, etc and no one was going to rehabilitate it - they would have to put it down because of its injuries. I felt extremely guilty and responsible - so decided not to take it to them and decided to try and give it a shot a living by raising it. I had raised baby parrots before - it cant be that hard right?

Wrong. Here is a break down of how things went for me (my daughter named it Poop Choop - because that was all it did as a baby)

- Poop lived in a large cage ontop of the side by side fridge/freezer at first - it was warmer up there than anywhere else and I also have an indoors only cat.

- They have a very fast transit time, meaning from dawn to dusk - feeding every 20 minutes or so. I went by the rule - if it is chooping, it is hungry. I fed Poop wombaroo insectivore rearing mix, mealworms, crickets, any bugs I came across on the property or in the house, cut native flowers, and any fruit in the fridge. Note that if you feed them blueberries - in half an hour their poo will be blue and could stain.

- Noisy miners have a massive flock size and because I was already friendly with my properties birds, they did alot of the feeding for me. I had Poop in a large cage with the insides covered in shade cloth to protect what feathers were left and the barred floor covered in cardboard and newspaper. I left the front just bars (no cloth) and the adults would bring it food when it got noisy. Note I had to supervise this at all times - I quickly learned that snakes are very good at finding little birds and that crows/magpies/butcher birds will also have a go when they can.

- Have to do lice an mite sprays very often because of the wild birds feeding it.

- Once it started moving a little better I literally cleared out a bedroom and turned it into a massive aviary. Even though it knew nothing different, it hated its cage and would hurt itself to try to get out. That had to be cleaned everyday and new branches put in every other day with flowers. The idea was that as soon as the feathers grew back it would start to fly. The foot seemed ok in my books as it can still perch properly with the other foot and can walk/hop on the ground with both.

- I would let it go hungry for a little while to attract the other miner birds. Then I would take it out so they could feed it and it could socialise with them - that would take around 1/2 an hour at a time. I would also put it in any native trees around that were flowering and stand nearby to keep predators away. I would also take it around the yard and teach it how to forage for bugs (look under leaves, scratch things away, etc)

- We kept handling at a minimum, but they are very fast learners. Humans provide food and dont hurt me - so they are good in his eyes.

- FINALLY feathers started to grow back, so we gently encouraged flying for feeding to build the muscles. Then started banishing the cat to the laundry (Persian cat - just sleeps all day anyway, usually in there, so I didnt feel too bad about it) so it could do food flights from the lounge to to the kitchen (large areas). Then back to the 'aviary'.

- They are very social birds. It was lonely. Although we kept interactions to a minimum, it gradually increased once it was flying because we couldnt keep away from it (literally chase us down and discovered shoulders).

- The outside feeds continued and one day it flew into the large trees near the house. I was ecstatic! But this is where things will go wrong.

- Miner birds are very territorial. The family came to feed it, but I did not realise that they were not the only ones in the yard. Poop started getting attacked and flew back to me (remember human + food = good). Its eye was slightly scratched up, but otherwise ok.

- Note - Miner birds will attack the yellows of the eyes when fighting. If you have one and are very friendly with it - watch your eyes - it knows no better and I had some very close calls.

- The outside flights and tree time continued. Most birds would feed it, but the scuffles started getting worse as it got older. It was brought back in when it came back to the door and went out again an hour or so later. It started learning about other birds. Just saying - pigeons are mean, it got beaten up pretty badly and got stunned. Lorikeets are also pretty mean - it learned that the hard way aswell.

- Fast forward a month or so of this and then it was spending the whole day outside. I would leave a container of mealworms (hidden underneath the patio table centrepiece - Poop knows how to get them, but noone else does) and fresh water out. Some days it wont leave (bad weather), other days we dont see it until dusk when it comes back and demands to be let it. I would count the mealworms as I picked them out of the container and count them in the arvo to see how many had been eaten. I wanted to encourage him to fend for himself gradually and didnt want it to be eating too many.

- I started to notice that it was 'different' to the other miners. The best way to describe it is awkward. It got attacked, so it pretended to have a dust bath on cement, that kind of thing. You can pick it out of a bunch of them by looking for the one that seems out of place.

- It had found its place in the pecking order. Of an evening when it came in, I checked its eyes. It is pretty obvious if it has had a bad day because they will be bleeding. The fights seemed to have stopped.

- I have to note, that I had spent ALOT of time observing them, and knew alot about their calls, behaviours, etc. at the time.

- One day, things changed. They were all fighting - non stop. Poop was copping a beating, it was an adult now but couldn’t defend itself in a fight. Every. Damn. Day. it had new wounds around the eyes. We had all gotten attached by this point and enjoyed the visits throughout the day (even if it was just appearing on the washing line to swear at the red shirt). I had to keep it in for 2 days to treat an infected eye. It nearly died. There was no aviary now, it had reign of the house. It took me a little while to realise that breeding season had started.

- The fights continued and Poop couldn’t deal with the behaviour. It simply was not an aggressive bird. It was submissive, which is not ok in the noisy miner world. It lost its place in the pecking order and its place in the flock seems to have gone. It is a loner. It started requesting to come inside earlier on a bad day.

- Now it is today. It spends the night outside every now and again, but will do so then come back the next night to go to roost. It is never put in a cage when awake. I wait for it to go to sleep then place it in a cage until dawn the next day. If I sleep in - it will yell at me until I get up - you cannot sleep through that.

Here is my summary:

- As babies they need to be with the other miners - to get attacked. As horrible as that sounds, if they dont get that, they dont toughen up. Poop is the sweetest bird I have ever had. It defends me from anything that is a threat (roosters in particular). It is gentle (with me only). It comes when I call it (if it is close enough to hear). I am its only flock member because it cannot deal with the aggression from the other birds. They need to be raised by someone that has other miner birds so they can figure this out.

- Poop is only just now starting to 'act like a miner bird'. Its has taken near a year for it to pick up on the behaviour it should of learned as a fledgling - once again, needs to be with its own kind.

- We can try to teach it everything it should know, but still get it wrong. The bird bring earthworms to the kitchen windowsill to show me its kill - I taught it how to scratch around in the ground. Other miner birds dont do that - which also means it is at risk of getting killed by a predator (cat, dog, etc). I didnt think of that.

- It will probably never get a girlfriend. It cannot win a fight and that seems to be the way to win the ladies - his DNA will probably not get passed on.

- It is heartbreaking to get attached to an animal and have to defend it from its own kind. It will fly around the windows of the house if it is getting attacked looking for me. I then shoo the others off - which is doing much more harm to its flock position than good.

- It was my responsibility as a baby, and will probably be my responsibility for the rest of its life. As I type it is on my shoulder because it had a bad day (breeding season is horrible). I cannot go on a holiday. If I want to go out for dinner, it has to be after dusk. I will not move house until his time has come because it is my fault he is like this.

- You cannot take it anywhere else for release. If you find it in a park and raise it away from its flock, it may be somewhat protected at reintroduction there by genetics (not sure if they can pick up on that or not). But if you release it somewhere foreign - it will get chased off and will not be accepted. I watched it fly into my neighbours yard once - it got chased back and attacked within minutes. A miner bird would probably die if released on its own in a foreign area (though it might stand a chance if released with other birds it age - say if you raised a few.

- They need sun and a varied diet. Their health can be indicated by the yellow of their eyes. When it was a baby it did not get enough sun for a while and its eyes paled. Same when it was sick. Also, no animal can survive on one type of food alone (say mealworms only).

- It will consume all of your time. If you are time poor (I have a home business) you will really struggle with the feeding schedule.

- They cannot go in a cage. Even if it is all they know - they will fight to get out and hurt themselves. They also poo alot, so leaving it free inside is a pain to clean up (I literally bought a carpet shampooer and it just now pooed on my daughters music book).

- They need lice & mite sprays. All wild birds get the pests - but I have noticed it does not bathe or dust bathe correctly. So I have to spray it (it also roosts in a cage at night, which is a breeding ground for bugs - the cage needs to be cleaned thoroughly every week or you will reintroduce pests).

- They are territorial and overprotective. It attacks anything I am holding (chickens, budgies, etc) and I have to keep it away from mirrors in the house.

Long story short - if you can get wildlife rescue to raise it, do it. They need to be raised with their own kind and released in groups. I tried my best but it still was not perfect. Hopefully when the breeding season is over, everything settles down and his life is a bit easier - but that is months away.

I hope this helps someone. I could of really used this information a year ago.

Woko's picture

Wow, now that's a post!, kayjay. I particularly support the 2nd last paragraph.

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