Sunday, 20 June 2010

Magpies and crows

A recurring theme in my life is the corvids that turn up for rescue (not to mention the hedgehogs). Corvids, for those people who don't have them barge their way in, are members of the crow family, and over the years we have helped all the British crows except ravens and choughs. We even had a stunned jay once, whose amazing beauty we marvelled over until it suddenly stopped acting like it was drunk and flew straight through the house and out the porch window. It's been many years since a crow came for help, but a few weeks ago an almighty screaming from the front of my neighbours property turned out to be a baby magpie being attacked by four adult magpies, and being somewhat defended by two others. We assumed they were the parents. Once disturbed, all seven flew off, but over the next few days we saw the baby more and more, on the trampoline, on the shed, behind the chickens. He would land next to a cat if it would put his relentless attackers off. Gradually the parents gave up and left him to fend entirely for himself, and he got thinner and weaker. Then, we noticed his leg hanging down, and five days later, exhausted and too tired and thin to fly above my head, we chased him down the side of the house and Sophie managed to get her hands to him.


The idea was to get him in, fill his crop and let him die warm and safe and in a  dark place. Twelve hours later, his stomach slightly fuller, he was bright eyed and interested in what goodies we were going to come back with next. (Cat food and chopped treats) We said, we would give him two weeks to either get better and go back to the wild or come to terms with a life in captivity and become the first resident of the new corvid rescue aviary. The worst possible scenario is that he is afraid of us all the time, but that is clearly not the case. He doesn't like us either, but he likes the meaty chunks (not the jelly though) and the soaked cat biscuits and the fat balls we feed the blue tits. He has completely broken the leg, and worse, it was already healing crooked when we found him. He'll always need an aviary but people are another matter, he's bright enough to prefer me to Russell so he's probably male. He's starting to 'play' with fat balls, tear up paper etc. which is a good sign. He lets me put my hand to within a few inches or even brush his back. He doesn't move out the way when I slide fresh paper in (which is a nuisance). I'm open minded about him. The one question I have to ask myself is: if he had a choice, would he choose this life? Or would he choose death? Miserable birds become apathetic. He's enthusiastic, curious, looking for life. I feel like we have to give him a  bit longer, and get him flying. Not to mention, give him a  bath.

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