“This magpie was very lucky because it was brought into our care so quickly,” Taronga Wildlife Rescue Coordinator Libby Hall said.
“Fishing line cuts into the skin, which often results in severe injuries in the animals we treat.
“We have seen bird wings and feet and even turtle flippers completely severed by fishing line,”
Once the fishing line was removed, the bird received a complete health check including flight testing and was found to have no significant injuries.
The magpie – bound by discarded fishing line – was completely helpless and distressed when rescuers arrived.
Cremorne local and WIRES volunteer Anna MacIntosh was alerted to the emergency by a member of the public on Friday, who had seen the chick’s legs wrapped in fishing line. Anna immediately went to Anderson Park to investigate. At that time, the magpie was still able to fly despite the fishing line around its legs, so she was unable to catch him.
Ms MacIntosh returned to the park several times to check up on the bird, but on Sunday morning, she couldn’t see the magpie anymore – only its parents and a sibling.
“I’ve done so many similar rescues before, so I knew without a doubt that the magpie must have become ensnared somewhere. The clock was ticking – he was in real danger,” she said.
Taronga Zoo Hospital staff acted swiftly to save the fledgling bird.
Anna was finally able to locate the magpie high up a tree, where it was flapping in distress and snared to a branch by the fishing line.
WIRES called rescue services, who arrived within 20 minutes.
“The Police and the Fire & Rescue were just incredible; without their help the magpie would have suffered a tragic fate. The Mosman Police blocked off Kurraba Road for 10 minutes, so firefighters could safely remove the bird and then I took it to the amazing team at the Taronga Wildlife Hospital,” Anna said.
“Magpies unfortunately have a bad reputation as they sometimes swoop to protect their young, but they are such dedicated parents, they mate for life and are incredibly smart, so it was wonderful to see everyone coming together to rescue this fledgling,” she added.
WIRES volunteer Anna MacIntosh and a Taronga staff member remove fishing line from Anderson Park in Neutral Bay.
After a short stint at the hospital, the bird was reunited with its parents by Anna and Libby. Thankfully, the magpie parents immediately accepted their fledgling back.
“When treating juvenile birds, time is of the essence and it’s important to get them reunited with their parents as quickly as possible. When the chick stops making the appropriate begging noises or changes its behaviour, the parents may not accept the fledgling back,” Libby explained.
Sadly, this is not the first encounter the magpie family has had with discarded fishing equipment. On November 20 last year, Anna rescued the fledgling’s father after it had a huge fishing lure and hook embedded in its leg. The bird was successfully treated at Taronga Wildlife Hospital.
The baby magpie has been returned to its home in Anderson Park and was welcomed by its parents.
“We treat many species of native wildlife each year that become entangled in or ingest discarded fishing line and hooks. We encourage the community to be mindful of their impact on our unique wildlife, and to always take their rubbish with them – including discarded fishing hooks and line,” Libby said.
Taronga Wildlife Hospitals are open seven days a week, to help sick, injured or orphaned native animals. Every year, 1500 animals are admitted, making it the largest contributor to veterinary services in wildlife treatment and rehabilitation in NSW.