ONE FOR JOY
By Ann Evans
Photos by Rob Tysall, Tysall’s Photography
Nuneaton Wildlife Sanctuary is used to having unusual casualties arriving at their gates, but this albino magpie came as a surprise to everyone.
Wildlife lover, Geoff Grewcock set up his sanctuary in 2001 after being touched by a story of an injured swan that had to be put down because there was nowhere for it rest and recuperate. Since then, Geoff and his army of volunteers have cared for around 32,500 injured or orphaned wild birds and wild animals; the majority being nursed back to health and released safely back into the wild.
Those not able to return to their natural habitat are either re-homed or given a home for life at the sanctuary.
Kind hearted Geoff who is on call 24/7 to tend to animals and birds needing help, said, “This magpie had been spotted in a Nuneaton garden for the last two or three days, it was very thin and wasn’t able to fly very well. The householder managed to catch the bird and brought it in here.
“Albinos don’t usually have a very long life and this one was very weak. It is missing some feathers and has an injury to its wing. To start with it just lay there, so we tube fed it and it began to regain its strength and was soon going for the food that we put down for it.”
For the time being Geoff is keeping the bird in his house, where he can keep a close eye on it, and keep it warm.
“It’s feeding on its own now and is pretty lively,” said Geoff. “Although it will never be able to soar like other magpies, and it wouldn’t survive on its own in the wild. It would soon get picked on by other creatures.”
Albino adult magpies are very rare. One expert has been quoted as saying they are one in a million. Sometimes birds with dark iridescent feathers can have a condition known as leucism where the black melanin is missing. However leucisitic birds retain the pigment in their eyes, beak and legs whereas albinism affects everything, including their eyes which will be pink, and possibly causing poor eyesight.
The albino magpie which they have named Roy, is only the third they have ever had in the sanctuary. It’s amazingly friendly and doesn’t mind being handled. In fact it seems to like nothing better than being perched on someone’s shoulder.
As well as birds in need, Geoff has cared for thousands of animals, from badgers to hedgehogs and from foxes to ferrets. Very often his animal stories hit the headlines. A week ago, his very tame roe deer, Bramble had a visit from Midlands Today TV, as Bramble likes to make himself at home in Geoff’s bungalow helping himself to whatever is in the fridge.
Previously Bramble hit the headlines, after surviving a traumatic start in life. He was brought in unconscious at just a few weeks old. It’s not known what had happened to its mother. Geoff doubted the deer would survive despite him hand feeding and round the clock care. However, one of Geoff’s rescue dogs, a greyhound named Jasmine took the young deer to her heart and cared for it like her very own pup. They grew up best of friends until Jasmine died of natural causes in 2011. Bramble now likes to sleep with Sage a rescued turkey.
Roxy is probably the most famous fox in the UK. Roxy was brought in at just a few days old and had to be syringe fed then hand fed becoming Geoff’s very special pet. Utube clips of him walking with Geoff and his dogs on leads around the streets have had over half a million views.
Once Roy the albino magpie is in tip-top condition, it will join these and other residents of the sanctuary which include geese, ducks, chickens, owls and other creatures who could not survive in the wild. Geoff has also adopted a magnificent but unwanted European Eagle Owl and a Great Grey Owl. So Roy the albino magpie is in good company and while it’s usually ‘one for sorrow’ with magpies this one has found a little joy.
The Nuneaton Wildlife Sanctuary have added new items to their Amazon wish-list, if anyone would like to help with donated items: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/registry/wishlist/A3MI3FPM9424
For more details visit: http://www.nuneatonwildlife.co.uk/