People are going to the rescue of baby magpies that don't need help
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People are going to the rescue of baby magpies that don't need help

Concerned Canberrans are coming to the rescue of baby magpies that don't actually need rescuing.

Vets and wildlife services across the ACT say it's a common issue they see each year during spring.

Baby magpies leave the nest and live on the ground before their tail feathers have grown. Members of the public sometimes confuse nature with the chicks being deserted or in distress, and try and rescue it.

Concerned Canberrans are coming to the rescue of baby magpies that don't actually need rescuing. 

Concerned Canberrans are coming to the rescue of baby magpies that don't actually need rescuing. Credit:Kate Hallett

ACT Wildlife president Marg Peachey said the organisation had 30 magpie fledglings in care that people had brought in.

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"This happens every year, and because we live in suburbia, sharing the environment with native birds, people are concerned for their safety, especially with the dangers of cats and dogs chasing and injuring them," Ms Peachey said.

"Many people think they are doing the right thing by performing a rescue and bringing the baby magpies into us but in fact, it's not."

Vet clinics across the country have also reported a number of chicks being brought in, including Canberra Vet in Lyneham, Weston Creek Vet - where one was actually injured - and a number of chicks at Kaleen.

Vet clinics across the country have reported a number of chicks being brought in.

Vet clinics across the country have reported a number of chicks being brought in.

The RSPCA said its shelters had received hundreds of fledglings in previous years from good samaritans mistakenly rescuing the birds.

Ms Peachey said people become concerned because the chicks were on the ground and its parents nowhere to be seen.

"When magpie chicks reach a stage of development where they are almost ready to fly they will come out of the nest, but not necessarily flying from the nest," Ms Peachey said.

"These fledgling birds stay on the ground waiting to be fed by the parents. They are being cared for by the parents, which may swoop people if they go too near to their fledgling."

It could take a day or two for a baby magpie to gain the skills and fitness needed to actually fly, she said. Magpies followed their parents for several months learning about food and magpie behaviour and eventually they were forced away from the family.

Ms Peachey said the best thing for the magpie fledglings was to leave them alone and watch to see if the parents returned.

"If the magpie can perch on a branch it is old enough to leave the nest," she said.

"Watch from a distance for the parent coming to feed the bird, if this does not happen over several hours it may have been abandoned and will need rescuing."

She said ACT Wildlife would try to return the "kidnapped" magpies back to their parents.

Han Nguyen reports on property for The Canberra Times. She joined the Times in 2017 after working as a breaking news reporter at The Sydney Morning Herald.

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