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‘We can rebuild him’

Wednesday, 30th March, 2016

Kerry Bullock holding the bird just before its release. Kerry Bullock holding the bird just before its release.

By Barbara Hands

 A juvenile magpie came into the care of our local wildlife group RRANA, suspected of being the victim of a powerpole electrical flare.

We had seen this before in a Galah called ‘Guy’ whose mate died in the electrocution.

Guy was a bystander and was badly burnt. He survived to be released but it took several months for his feathers to moult and re-grow.

This magpie suffered burns and had its feathers severely singed. Both wings and its tail were devoid of the fibrous parts of the feathers which rendered the bird flightless and in danger of dying.

Fortunately the burnt bird found itself in the safety of Kerry Bullock’s yard. Kerry kept his cat inside and contacted RRANA.

The young magpie had burnt legs and a singe to its beak. Several of its claws were burnt and eventually broke off, and later one leg swelled to three times its normal size.

After a couple of weeks rest, ‘Batman’ was well healed and looking well rounded. It was decided to replace the damaged feathers with a process called imping. This would enable the bird to be released a couple of days after imping.

A much better outcome than waiting perhaps a year until the next moulting season. 

Imping is done by cutting the damaged feathers off the bird and replacing them by gluing a bamboo toothpick into the feather shaft then attaching the new feather.

The glue used was five-minute araldite. Sounds simple enough, but the whole process took many, many hours of work with four carers over several sessions.

The bird was very cooperative and the imping was done without aneasthetic. 

Eventually Batman looked fantastic sporting slightly large new wings and tail that enabled him to fly very strongly (hence the name).

The day of release arrived and Batman was set free from Kerry’s yard.

It flew off screeching loudly, and rewarded everyone by warbling from the top of a large gum tree at the back of Kerry’s house.

Batman’s story demonstrates the success that can be achieved by experienced caring volunteers.

If you find an injured or orphaned animal please call RRANA on the 24 hour hotline number on 0429 204 416.

* Barbara Hands is RRNA’s bird coordinator and trainer.

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