Essex

Pet shop owner bonds with rescued baby magpie Pica

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Media captionA magpie saved from a cat attack becomes an Essex man's 'best friend'.

A pet shop owner who is hand-rearing a young magpie said he has had offers of £1,000 to buy the bird "but wouldn't sell him for 10 times that much".

Peter Redwood-Smith, 21, from Rayleigh, Essex, took Pica on after a customer found him injured outside the shop.

Mr Redwood-Smith said the magpie stuck by him constantly although the bird was free to fly away at any time.

"I'm very connected to him, he's kind of like a child - not to sound too soppy - he's bonded up to me," he said.

As reported by The Essex Chronicle, Pica was rescued from the clutches of a cat when he was about two weeks old.

Image caption Pica is fed with cooked chicken, duck and turkey

"One of my customers found him just outside my shop and saved him from being dinner, because he was so wobbly he couldn't outrun the cat," Mr Redwood-Smith recalled.

I knew a bit about magpies before this - I knew the Latin was pica pica, and that's where I got his name.

"I knew the diet, and I knew they were intelligent but I didn't know to the full extent, and after researching I found they're more intelligent than I could have imagined."

Image caption Peter Redwood-Smith said he had been looking after the magpie, which he has named Pica, for almost two months

Pica is fed on a diet of cooked chicken, duck and turkey, as well as raw pheasant and meal worms, crickets and locusts, which they eat in the wild.

Mr Redwood-Smith said his feathered friend had "flown off on several occasions" in the seven weeks they have been living together, but had always come back.

He said the birds, which have a lifespan of 20 years, "bond up to their mate for life".

"I'm ready for 20 years of magpie friendship, whether I want it or not - I think I'm stuck with him and he's stuck with me."

The RSPB says it does not recommend hand-rearing young magpies as they can seek human company when released back into the wild.

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