How to care for a Magpie bird

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The striking black-and-white, European Magpie is one of Britain's native birds. These conspicuous birds inhabit both rural and urban areas. Magpies are omnivorous and feed on fruit and grain, but also prey on bats, mice, frogs, snakes and rabbits.

Magpies also actively hunt for the nestlings of other birds to feed their own babies during the breeding season. It is illegal to capture, buy, sell or cage British wild birds, but the law allows you to look after one if it is injured (see Resources).

Provide your Magpie with a cage which is large enough to enable it to flap its wings in any dimension.

Place a perch at either end of the cage.

Lay paper at the bottom of the cage. This should be removed and replaced as soon as it becomes soiled.

Feed your Magpie an insectivore-rearing mixture, which is available from a veterinarian. Add lean mince and a high-quality dog biscuit to the staple insectivore diet. Strips of lean meat and worms will also be readily accepted by the Magpie.

Offer a commercial wild bird food, including millet, in a separate bowl. Keep the bowl filled on a daily basis.

Offer pink or day-old mice to your Magpie, once or twice a week. These tiny creatures are best euthanized by holding their hind legs between your thumb and forefinger and hitting their head very hard against a solid surface, like the corner of a work surface.

Provide the Magpie with cool and clean water. Fill the water bowl daily and clean it out every few days.

Spend time with your Magpie. These birds are intelligent and inquisitive and become bored if left alone in the confined space of a cage.

Repeat words and very short sentences in the vicinity of your Magpie. These birds can mimic sounds and your pet may develop a vocabulary.