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All you have to do is paint a picture of an owl on a piece of MDF and nail it to a branch in the tree. Pigeons ain't that bright. At least that's the theory. I'm not sure where I dredged this idea up from...perhaps 1950s children's encyclopedia or maybe one of my daughters was ranting on about how shtooopid pigeons are. It's worth a try. The kids have a little play house in the garden. We called it owl cottage after my pathetic attempt at painting such a cut-out. We never have pigeons sitting on it. But maybe that's because the cats see them off.
I work in Wildlife management, and I know for a fact that the RSPB (although publicly denying the need for corvid control for fear of losing members)shoots Magpies and other Corvids and uses Larsen Traps to control these birds on their Reserves and Ternaries. They would not do this if it were not necessary!!!
New research recently published in the Journal of Applied Ecology showed that where there were no magpies present, the reproductive output of song thrushes was much greater. This was well illustrated by two maps, one showing the distribution of magpies in Britain, the second showing the breeding success of song thrushes, and they demonstrated perfectly that where magpies were absent song thrushes thrived. A report entitled 'Large-scale spatial variation in the breeding performance of song thrushes and blackbirds', written by biologists from the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) and the University of East Anglia, concluded that nest failure rate during incubation increased significantly where Corvids were present, and that most predation was by the smaller Corvids, particularly magpies. The significance of this report is that it is very large and thorough, and backs up the work performed by other biologists on nest predation in urban parklands by magpies, which is having a considerable impact on the local blackbird population.
Please consider these points, whilst a magpie may be entertaining to watch and certainly striking to look at, we could lose the dawn chorus altogether in years to come if we do not do something to control its numbers, and help songbirds in other ways such as winter feeding and providing nesting cover (uncut hedges etc).
Songbird Survival is an excellent charity working to help songbirds, and is well worth a look.
So, I just shot two of them, the first set all the other local magpies off with their rattling alarm calls, the second was young bird being hassled by a cat.
I've noticed that there are blue tits everywhere, doves are out and about, and a hawk swung through earlier too... but no magpies... maybe they've put out an alarm call to be wary of this patch.. there were dozens a few days ago, but after their calling to each other.. they seem to have gone elsewhere.
Good job done..at least the other local birds will get a chance to fatten up throughout this summer.