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Magpie

Magpie

The magpie is a black-and-white bird with a very long tail. It is a member of the crow family. When the wings are folded, the magpie has a white breast and a white patch in each side. Magpies live on insects, grubs, berries and carrion, with occasional frogs and snails. They have also been known to kill small pets such as baby guinea pigs. Magpies supplement their diet in the breeding season by raiding nests of smaller birds and eating the eggs and baby chicks. Their numbers have increased by 112% over the last 30 years and they are now the 13th most commonly seen bird in British gardens. Whilst most bird protecton organisations stuggle to explain why songbirds are declining so rapidly in Britain, many enlightened observers believe magpies and carrion crows are a significant part of the problem. Control is best in the spring using Larsen Traps.

 

Your Questions Answered

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Question


Q.
are magpies endangered animals

A.

No, magpies are not endangered. They are a very common bird and are increasing in numbers and putting presure on garden and farmland birds. It is entirely legal to control magpies where they are causing a problem.


Q.
how do i stop them pecking at my lawn

A.

If it is magpies or crows that are your problem, they are almost certainly looking for wire-worms and there is not much you can do to dissuade them. They will stop when they have found and eaten all the worms and your lawn will soon recover. It won't take many days for them to go.


Q.
Shooting with air gun in own garden

A.

Magpies are not a protected species.  The only issue is the safety of an air gun in the garden, something we cannot advise on


Q.
theres a baby magpie in my hedge, the parents constantly attack any visitors,my windows and my cat,ive put up carrier bags to blow about and that worked for a while, but no more, so any advise would be welcome,

A.

Magpies only tend to be overtly aggressive when they have young and it will last while the babies are in the nest.  Scaring them away is the best option if they are really being a nuisance.  The carrier bags worked for a while you say.  You might like to try hanging aluminium foil trays off sticks above the hedge or CDs which catch the sun.  Another option is a visual deterrent such as a decoy bird of prey which may keep them at bay.  Magpies are not a protected species as such but it is an offence to deliberately injure or kill them or to disturb an active nest so scare tactics are the best option until the nest is empty


Q.
A group of 8 frequent the area where I live,the have pecked and destroyed my gazebo cover(150 worth of damage) ! want to discourage them,and not the other birds who visit and nest in our garden Your help appreciated Robin Myles 01213110974 72 Whitehouse Crescent Sutton Coldfield B75 6ES

A.

Hi Robin

is your gazebo a permanent structure?  Bird spikes are used to prevent birds landing, but may not be possible to fit on a gazebo as they are either clipped in position or bonded with silicone. There are visual scaring products, these come either in the form of an owl or hawk.  The cheapest product is a balloon with eyes painted on.  Perhaps this or anything that moves in the breeze would act as a deterrent.

 

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Q.
We always had birds nesting in our hedge for years,this past two yrs we have had none,due to magpies destroying and killing young,the birds have not returned to nest,such a pity.we seem to be over run with magpies.jim.Edinburgh. Ps,please mail suggestions.

A.

Unfortunately there is little you can do.  Magpies along with all other wild birds are protected to the degree that you would need to cite exceptional circumstances for a cull of the birds to stand up in court if you were ever brought to book.  Also removing a few birds from your garden will only leave a gap that more birds will fill.  Try to encourage the birds you want by providing them with nesting areas that the magpies can't reach and protecting the nest boxes with chicken wire


Q.
how do i stop the magpies destroying my lawn,they continually peck it looking for food i suppose

A.

Magpies regularly tear up lawns looking for cockchafer grubs.  Treat your lawn for these and you should stop the destruction by these pest birds.  Either use the chemical imidacloprid on your lawn, try Provado Lawn Grub Killer, or try the natural organism hetrorhabditis nematode.  The former is extremely toxic to other wildlife.  THe latter is entirely natural and is watered into the lawn where it burrows into the grub and kills it.


Q.
RSPB states that 'Magpies ARE a protected species' - who is right, you or them? I have a problem with a large flock / colony of magpies (and Jays) which have decimated the small bird population in my valley - a number lessening exercise is necessary. Can this be carried out within the law?

A.

Magpies like all other other species are protected under the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981. This makes it illegal to intentionally kill or injure a magpie or destroy nests and their contents.  However the law recognises that killing may be necessary if certain circumstances are met and non-lethal methods of control have failed.  The government issues licences which allow magpies to be killed by authorised persons using permitted methods IF they are causing serious damage to crops or livestock; it is to preserve public health; it is to conserve wild birds; to preserve air safety.

An authorised person is a landowner or occupier. An authorised method of control is a larsen trap which traps the bird alive (this being because other species of bird may get trapped too) and a condition of the licences that allow trapping is that the birds should be released unharmed. Shooting may be authorised if done by an approved person.

Just a note.  The use of a licence to control magpies in a garden is generally not authorised as it is thought that magpies do not pose a conservation threat to garden birds


Q.
magpies keep taking the baby birds from the trees in the neighbours garden, its an awful sight to see and hear!!! and upsets the kids... is there anything i can do to help keep them away ? ive just come on here because they have just taken another :(

A.

Magpies are a nuisance to garden birds, especially in spring and early summer when they are stealing eggs and young birds to feed their young.  Unfortunately there is little that can be done.  Magpies are protected under the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981 and can only be controlled on the issuing of a licence to that effect.  Such licences are only given if certain criteria are met and it is rarely because magpies are attacking garden birds. The only advice would be to provide nesting sites for garden birds that are magpie proof. Use a Schwegler nest box that is designed to get the nesting bird in a space that a magpie cannot reach. If there are open nests, protect it with wire mesh that will let the nesting birds in but not the magpies.


Q.
magpies have taken all the eggs from the nests in my garden. and this morning gang of them have taken the head off a woodpidgeon that was sitting on her eggs. How can I get them from living in my tree?

A.

The simple answer is that you can't.  It is very distressing when magpies attack other smaller bird life but there would have to be genuine exceptional circumstances to warrant destroying the bird.  Of course another will take its place as soon as you remove it.  The best you can do is protect the nests and boxes you have by surrounding them with a wire mesh that will allow the small birds through but not the magpies.  I believe you can buy nesting boxes hat place the birds far enough back from the entrance that the magpies can't reach them


Q.
We have a magpie flying around our supermarket, what is the best method of having it captured or removed as it is eating the stock

A.

The quickest way is to call somebody in to deal with it.  It could take ages to capture yourselves and that is no good to a supermarket


Q.
How do we shop the bird from taping on the window

A.

Invest in some bird spikes so they can't land on the sills


Q.
Magpies are making a terrible mess of my lawn, is there a reason why they have started to do this as it has never happened before. Is there anything I can do to stop it?

A.

They will probably be digging for cockchafer larvae. There are only biological control methods for cockchafers such as nematodes which are watered into the soil