A magpie that was rescued as a chick by the Bloom family in New South Wales, Australia, has become part of the family, hanging out in and around the house as if it were a pet, but otherwise coming and going as it pleases.
Named "Penguin" no doubt because of its black-and-white plumage, the magpie will sit atop of family members' heads, rest in their laps, play games of catch, sing, mimic what they do, and cruise from one kid to another when the kids are playing handball with friends.
"I never thought she'd become as much a part of the family as she has," Cameron Bloom told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. "[The kids] love her like a dog, but better…
"She's here at 3:30 p.m., usually, when the kids get home from school. She sings when they come up the driveway. She usually hangs around until night and then I put her in the tree outside somewhere.
"She's free to fly; she often will just hang out around us in the morning, then when the kids go to school she'll do her own thing."
The Blooms—Cameron and his wife, Sam, and Rueben, 13, Noah, 11, and Oli, 9—began this odd relationship after Noah discovered the magpie chick lying on the ground in late 2013. They believed it was blown out of a tree.
The family took the magpie in and cared for it, gleaning advice on what to do from a veterinary friend and doing research on what small chicks eat.
"We hand-raised her…and she learned to fly," Cameron said. "It's been really fun."
When the family is out, Penguin will often be sitting in her tree in the front yard, waiting to greet the family upon their return.
"It's like a dog wagging its tail; she sits there in the tree and flaps her wings like she's excited," Cameron said.
And if you flap your arms like wings, he added, Penguin will mimic the action and flap her wings.
Hazel Kranenburg of Foster Care of Australia's Unique Native Animals Association told ABC that releasing rescued magpies back into the wild can be difficult because other birds are so territorial, but she wasn't surprised it became fond of the Bloom family, citing the fact the birds are not that aggressive.
But Penguin has had some run-ins with other magpies in the neighborhood.
"She might be in the tree out the front of the house, getting worms out of the garden, and if other magpies are around she’ll make a beeline for the house and fly in here so she doesn’t get bombed and pecked; they really attack her," Cameron told ABC. "They’ve made her bleed."
Still, Penguin appears to be coping, and the family is enjoying its company, except for the six-day period beginning on Christmas Day 2014 when it was missing. But after a vacation, the magpie returned from its longest stint away from the Blooms. Since then, it has grown into somewhat of a celebrity, especially in the past week.
More than a year ago, the family created an Instagram account for Penguin the magpie to document the bird's interaction with the family. With its recent celebrity on social media, Penguin's followers have increased from 3,400 when ABC did a post about it to more than 18,000 over the weekend.
As long as Penguin sticks around, there will be more photos and certainly more followers.
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