Baby magpie missing some feathers.

Hello, Very interesting and useful info here, but wondering if anyone can shed a little more light on my particular situation. 

I found a baby magpie on the ground by a path that my very active cat uses every day. She catches many mice and sometimes birds. I could not leave the baby there, so I have created a *nest" in a safe place inside and have been feeding him/her in line with the advice here. It is quite large and has adult black and white feathers. It seems to be doing well. My question relates to the feathers. It's bottom half is completely bald as is half of its neck on one side. There was no evidence of lost feathers anywhere nearby. Did this happen in the nest? Have the feathers just not grown yet? There is no way it could cope for long outside the nest, so I'll keep feeding for the moment, but I'm wondering when and if the feathers will form enough for it to fly and when will it be ready to forage for itself rather than be fed?

  • Hi Alida,,        it is often tempting to intervene when you see a bird with damaged or missing feathers but unless it had severe and obvious injury preventing the bird from moving it is always best to leave them out in the garden where the parent birds and other siblings are as capturing them (despite your best intentions) only causes them further stress.   I would say if you can for the time being put the bird back outside close to where you found it but perhaps choose some shade cover for it and do your best to keep your active cat away from that area for a short while,     Chances are it was caught by a cat or another predator as this would not have happened in the nest in my opinion.    More likely if tail feathers are missing it was catted.     There is a lesser possibility it could have been attacked by other magpies or "corvid". but if there are cats in the area that will hunt birds this is more likely especially as they would probably grab the tail feathers first as they were chasing it.     Young magpies will continue to be fed by its parents for about a month after fledging so depending on when this bird fledged the parents could still be bringing it food, hence it is important the bird is back outside for the parents to find  as they will remain with the close family group for several months.      Unless the bird has a wound which could become infected, then return it outside is the best advice I can offer and do your best to keep an eye on your cat for a few hours to help this bird reunite with its family members.  Despite losing tail feathers if the wings are in tact it should be able to fly but other members on here may have more expert advice.       If the bird has any bite or wound marks then try contacting help via THIS LINK         Good luck and hope the magpie family members reunite with this bird.     Any worries then contact the link I gave you for more advice.   Good luck.   


    Regards, Hazel 

    "Each kindness shown to birds or men is sure to flutter back again" 

  • In reply to HAZY:

    Thanks for the advice However, the bird is unable from to fly. There are more gaps than actual feathers. It fits into the palm of my hand, to give you an idea of size. My cat would certainly not have left it alive and would absolutely kill it, after playing with for a while, if she finds it now. There is no way I can keep her away from the area - she spends most of her life hunting for mice, voles and birds and is a voracious and capable hunter. I am most reluctant to return it for another reason - having read this advice before, I left a baby magpie where it was on the ground a few years ago, where it died. Slowly. I just can't do it. Useful to know that the feathers have been lost, not unformed and that it wasn't caused by its fellow nest mates. I'm keen to find a way to return it, but not if it just means it will die.
  • Afternoon Alida,
    My advice would be no more expert than Hazel's; less in fact. But I too would either try to reunite the bird with its parents (do you know where the nest is/was?) or get it some professional care.
    In the past I've put young Magpies and Crows up in trees---sometimes a few times a day---to avoid inevitable predation.

    An added difficulty (with your Magpie) is that the bird will imprint on you (very, very quickly) and thus will never be wild. Which means that you will "have" a Magpie permanently. Much of the work done with Corvids in rescue centres is an attempt to stop them attaching themselves to humans.

    A Magpie that fits in the palm of your hand is, I think, a very young bird indeed.