How to Raise a Magpie

Updated February 21, 2017

The magpie is a common wild bird that eats insects such as beetles, larvae (worm stage of insect growth) and earthworms. Magpies have higher protein requirements than other birds as they progress to their adolescent and adult maturity stages, which is why they don't naturally eat plant seeds and small nuts as other species of birds do. When raising a magpie, these protein requirements must be taken into consideration from birth through adulthood for the healthiest birds possible.

Set up an empty fish aquarium in a draft-free location within your home or building, preferably away from busy locations such as near hallways or doors so the magpie is stressed as little as possible.

Place a heating pad in the bottom of the aquarium and run the power cord up to the top of one of the corners of the aquarium. Turn on the heating pad to medium setting, then cover the heating pad with clean cotton towels to serve as bedding for the young magpie. Allow about one full 24-hour period for the internal temperature of the aquarium to stabilise, then place the magpie into the prepared aquarium.

Feed young magpies three times a day -- morning, noon and evening. Mix the 8% fat content hand-feeding formula according to the directions provided on the packaging, and place into a clean baby food jar. Fill a cooking kettle half-full of water and lower the baby food jar containing the hand-feeding formula into the water. Heat the water to about 23.9 degrees Celsius and allow the formula to warm for about 15 minutes. The final consistency of the formula should be that of soft pudding, which will be able to be taken up into the syringe easily.

Fill the 35cc feeding syringe to about half-full if the magpie is less than 14 days old, or completely full if the magpie is between 15 days and 21 days old. To feed your young magpie, hold the tip of the syringe against the top of the magpie's beak and the bird will immediately open its mouth for administration of the meal. Press the plunger of the syringe slowly, just enough to allow 2 or 3 drops of the formula to land on the bird's tongue. Allow the bird to swallow before administering more drops.

Introduce small insects to the magpie when it is 21 days old and slowly reduce the formula by about 5cc per day until the Magpie is eating worms and insects. Increase the number of worms and insects per meal until you have found the best number. The bird will eat its fill and will leave any that are unwanted. By gauging the needs of your magpie, you can collect only the number of insects and worms as needed per meal. Feed this insect and worm meal to your magpie every morning and night. The insects should be fresh, but don't necessarily have to be alive when administered.

Move your magpie into a bird cage when it is 1 month old, at which time no heating pad will be necessary and the bird will have grown its first moult of feathers to protect it against drafts and room temperatures. Begin to supply your magpie with a dietary ration of 80% worm and insect matter, and 20% regular bird feeder seed. Adolescent and adult magpies do need this small percentage of roughage to assist in digestion and elimination once they are eating solid foods.


Magpies are wild birds and thrive outdoors seeking their own food. As the magpie reaches adulthood, it can become difficult procuring enough fresh insects at the necessary intervals to keep your magpie healthy. As such, they should only be raised and kept indoors for 1 to 2 months only, and should then be released into the wild for their own benefit.

Things You'll Need

  • 35cc syringe
  • Heating pad
  • One to two clean cotton towels
  • Small fish aquarium (for one or two birds, a 10-gallon aquarium is plenty)
  • Hand feeding formula, 8% fat content (can be purchased at pet supply stores)
  • Clean and sterilised baby food jar
  • Bird cage with roosting bar, water tray and feed tray
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About the Author

Kurt Schanaman has had several editorials printed by the Star-Herald Newspaper publication in Western Nebraska. He attended Western Nebraska Community College.