How a Magpie Named Penguin Helped This Family

All about the new friend that waddled into the heart of a family to bring joy.

Fledgling Australian magpie having his first bath on a hot summer day

(Webb Photography /

This article is by Ever Widening Circles, an online platform that’s on a mission to prove it’s still an amazing world. View the original article here.

What happens when our idea of who we think we are changes? How do we rediscover ourselves in times of huge flux? Sometimes, our greatest friends in finding this new purpose in our lives show up in surprising places. In Sam Bloom’s case, her friend happened to fall right from a tree.

Here’s the story of how Penguin the magpie helped one family move through one of life’s major changes, and a reminder that rediscovering our meaning in those moments can come in unexpected ways!

In 2013 while she was on a family vacation in Thailand, a balcony railing gave way, sending Sam Bloom plummeting 20 feet to the ground. The fall left her with numerous injuries, including a shattered spine. In a single life-changing moment, her life was irrevocably changed.

In the many months that followed, after leaving a rehabilitation center and returning home, she fell into a deep depression. Before her accident, she spent her time caring for her family, surfing, exploring the outdoors, and traveling the world. Her former sense of self had disappeared overnight—as she put it in her piece in a Time article, “I was no longer an independent woman, and I no longer thought of myself as a wife and mother.” 

Enter: Penguin the Magpie

A few months after returning home, her son Noah discovered an injured baby magpie that had fallen from high in a tall pine tree. After no veterinarian would take her in, the family decided to try and nurse her back to health themselves.

With a waddling gait and black and white feathers, Bloom’s three boys decided to name the baby bird Penguin. And so, this needy new creature became a member of the Bloom family.

This new addition required constant attention, needing to be fed every two hours and kept warm constantly. This new responsibility fell on Sam, and soon, Penguin became a form of therapy.

“I didn’t feel as useless anymore; my instincts as nurse and mother revived when I was tending to this tiny, feathered soul. I didn’t realize it at the time but, in a way, we were keeping each other alive.”

To hear this story firsthand from Sam and her family is truly extraordinary, and an incredible reminder that at life’s moments of unexpected flux, sometimes we find hope in remarkable places.

You can learn more about Sam’s story by checking out her website. Keep up with Sam’s story on Instagram and Facebook, too!

Recently, Netflix released a movie called Penguin Bloom, based on her husband Cameron’s book, Penguin the Magpie, which is absolutely beautiful. Be prepared to have a few tissues, and feel the full range of human emotions while you watch!

The moments that (re)define us!

Sam and Penguin’s story is a reminder of the way our understanding of ourselves can change in an instant. Our understanding of who we are and our purpose in the world can be shattered. But whether it’s in the squawk of a baby bird, or by embracing new adventures in life, with time we can come to find a new sense of self again.

We may find our fresh purpose in a craft, a loved one, or a new community! Resilience in moments of uncertainty is one of our most human traits.

I hope if you or someone you love is experiencing a moment of flux in their lives, that this story brings the sense that new meaning is around the corner. That, no matter why we are feeling hopeless, those feelings can lead to new experiences and perhaps even new understandings of who we are and our purpose in life.