Cameron Bloom tells us the story of their beloved magpie, ‘Penguin’.
When Noah found Penguin
Penguin was just a small, wobbly-headed magpie chick when my son, Noah, found her lying injured on the grass after being blown out of her nest, located some 20 metres up a towering Norfolk Island pine tree. She was very lucky to survive such a horrendous fall but without immediate care would have died within a day. We built her a simple nest, fashioned from an old cane basket, and kept her warm with a small blanket.
Our sons immediately named her Penguin, for to her black and white plumage.
Caring for Penguin
We undertook a great deal of research about magpies and were extremely grateful for all the specialist veterinary advice we received, especially in regard to Penguin’s diet. There were days when Penguin looked so weak we thought we might lose her, and some evenings when we knew there was a chance she wouldn’t survive the night. We continued to do all we could for the smallest member of our family, over time she regained her strength and soon after she began to explore her world and discover her abilities.
I’ll never forget when Penguin took her very first flight – it was an amazing moment for all of us.
Penguin thinks she is a puppy
Whenever we’d pull up in the driveway after being away from the house Penguin will let out a loud and melodic warble to welcome us home then flap her wings with excitement and run straight to the front door to be let inside. Penguin always seemed to know exactly when our boys would be walking home from school.
At around 3.30pm she would position herself in the orange tree at the edge of the yard, waiting for them to come around the corner and into view. As soon as she heard them approaching she would break out in song and the boys would happily reply in their best magpie impersonation, and then she would call back to them again – just as if they were having a musical conversation.
Free to fly
While she will always be a part of our family Penguin does not belong to us. The world is hers to explore and she regularly travels for days at a time. It isn’t always easy for Penguin, the older, resident magpies are fiercely territorial and at times have attacked her, tearing off feathers and inflicting painful wounds with their sharp beaks. Despite her many encounters with bully-birds, Penguin maintains a bright and friendly personality and is kind to all the birds she meets. She has built a close friendship with a pied currawong with whom she shares scraps at the back door, and has even baby-sat a sickly rainbow lorikeet.
We all love this crazy little bird, and the experience of caring for her when she was utterly helpless and then watching her mature into a strong, brave and wise bird has been a blessing.
The ‘Penguin Bloom’ Book
There is a lot more to Penguin’s story than I can easily convey here, or even through the images I share, which is why I’m delighted to announce that I have created a book about Penguin with New York Times best-selling author, Bradley Trevor Greive.
I’d like to add that BTG and I, along with our publisher, ABC Books, are donating 10% of all royalties from Penguin Bloom to Spinal Cure Australia. When you read our book – which will make you laugh out aloud and also bring you to tears – you’ll soon realise just why this cause is so important to us and why I hope you’ll consider supporting this wonderful charity yourself.
You can pre-order the ‘Penguin Bloom’ book here.
Should you ever run into a similar situation of caring for an injured bird, here is a handy book that should help.