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Reply to magpie-haters: I understand people not liking these birds. I'm protected from a lot of this dislike because I have cats that do their own fair share of song-bird destruction and in London I think the magpies are mainly scavengers rather than predators. We also get a lot of crows, and it is these, I think, that keep dropping chicken bones in the gutters. I recently saw crow-hate taking to an extreme. A dead one is now strung up by its feet on one of the neighbouring allotments. I was always told by my father that gamekeepers strung up their kills on the fence for two reasons, one to show their employer that they had been working well, and two, to frighten off other 'vermin'. Until last Sunday I had not seen such a display gibbet for 30 years.
Haven't had magpies in the garden but noticed in a local park whilst a load of small birds were mobbing a polystyrene chip tray in vain as it was upside down a magpie flew down turned the tray with its foot and flew off with the contents leaving a flock of enraged sparrows fighting over nothing these birds are observant and bright!
Pretty as they may be it is worth remembering that these birds are a member of the crow family and are a pest and will happily eat small birds, eggs and anything else that they can get there claws on. Would rather have the mice in my garden then magpies
I think most of us realise (if we are interested in birds) that the magpie is a member of the crow family and like all of that family greatly maligned. yes, they eat the young of other birds, a not uncommon habit in the bird family. Yes, they are scavengers of the rubbish humans leave around but their place in the world is as important as every other creature. We are all in the boat together and I firmly believe that the loss of songbirds etc is more rightly the fault of human pests than avian!
My house backs onto woodland and Magpies and Jays are a welcome sight, cleaning up any leftovers after the Squirrels, rabbits, Foxes, and other birds have finished having their share. I have even had one sit on my shoulder and eat from my hand when scattering seeds and other food for the birds. A rare event but it happens. The squirrels seem to be the most friendliest, especially when peanuts are on offer. Although many class Foxes as smelly vermin, I welcome and feed them as well, after all they are practically harmless, and its a real delight to see the cubs romping in the garden. They are of course all gods creatures and are entitled to their life just as much as we are. Its easier to live with them than without them. Food for thought. H.


I have a large beech tree at the bottom of my garden which is a favourite roosting place for about 8 pigeons. The mess on my lawn underneath is horrible and slimy - how can I get rid of it (or them) without killing my lawn?
Reply to Penny Meriden

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.

Magpies are beautiful looking birds but, for me, that's where it ends. We have 3 that arrive, on and off. They mostly arrive when the smaller birds are nesting, as eggs and chicks are easy targets for them. I feed the smaller birds and between the magpies trying to steal their food and harry their nests it's a tough life. When I am in the garden they stay well clear, they are not stupid! The noises they make are really annoying and trying to keep them away from nests is a real trial - it's as if they taunt me. We have a friend who uses a magpie trap, but we are still waiting for a loan of this trap. Magpies are very territorial, and although I said they aren't stupid, this trap is the exception to the rule. He puts a live magpie into one part of the trap and sets it outside. No sooner is that done then the offending magpies come down to trap to try and kill the bait magpie. They can get into a specific part of this trap, not into part the bait magpie is in, but cannot get out and then he takes them away. If he doesn't have a magpie for bait he puts eggs in its place and that works just as well. I haven't asked what he does with the magpies once he has taken them away!
We have too many crows and magpies who steal the food put out for the smaller birds. Do they have any predators? Also noticed a kestrel who sits in a large tree at the bottom of the garden and hunts in the ditches around the garden. Where do these birds nest?
I am an amateur gardener who has just laid her first lawn. The turf was crawling with succulent worms which a magpie has been visiting daily. I feel privileged watching this magpie at work but I am anxious that this will actually harm my lawn. Is this so? Many thanks for your help. An anxious amateur!
Regarding Magpies, in years gone-by there were little or no cars, and Magpies were not able to survive the winter as easily as they are now due to the high levels of roadkill, especially in rural areas. This, along with other factors such as urban adaptation have led to the Magpie being hugely successful (UK population increasing 6% per year since 1940), which IS having a big impact on songbird numbers, due to egg/nestling predation. People need to realise that nature will not "find its own balance", or any of the other cliches so readily banded about by ignorant armchair "nature lovers", the only effect a thriving population of predators (such as the Magpie)not solely dependant on songbirds will have is to futher decimate declining species until localised extinction occurs, after which it will simply shift to another food source.

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.

Cats and magpies are responsible for the decline in garden and song birds I see at this time of year parent starlings chasing the magpies that have just helped themselves to their young ones and today the pair raided the collard dove's nest They regularly 'fish' from rocks surrounding my pond for tadpoles The only good thing about a magpie is its looks. My dogs keep away the cats but has anyone any suggestions how to rid my garden of magpies PLEASE
I love magpies, they're beautiful and noble, but they eat out the birds in their territories.

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 least the other local birds will get a chance to fatten up throughout this summer.

"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." If your worried about things "eating other birds out of their territories", then you should have shot the cat instead of the bird. But, ooh, society thinks cats are perfect. Interesting you are all worried about songbirds and their decline due to magpies (a natural animal, that has been subject to increased numbers by human influences), yet the human induced introduced cat-predation which would be huge is ignored using "cats are pretty" mentality. Once again a native in increased numbers get the raw end of the deal over the introduced pest doing the same problems. I don't disagree with well planned, studied magpie culls either, I do disagree with two different rules for natives and introduced pets but. Order of culling: 1 - Cats. 2 - Magpies


Reply to DP Don't shoot them, otherwise you'll have lots of objecting comments. Personally, I tolerate mice in my compost bins, but not rats. If either are really bothering you then start again, but don't put any kitchen waste in, use a wormery instead.
Have just bought a house in Barking, mainly because of it's lovely garden - however it has been colonised by a fox which has practically destroyed the lawn, has left mess everywhere, dug up the irrigation pipes; and generally is causing mayhem. I do not want to harm it (and any other of its relatives) but would like to encourage it to move on! Does any one have any positive suggestions? Do the repellents "scoot" etc work? What about Lion Dung? Thanks in anticipation!
Reply to Liz.dove You will either have to drive the fox away by patrolling regularly or trying to dissuade it by making your garden as inhospitable as possible. Though an unpopular action with some, your local council might be able to put you in touch with a licensed marksman who will take the final drastic action of shooting it.