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Old Thursday 5th May 2005, 07:13   #1
Metermaid
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Magpie - anything I can do ?

Our resident blackbirds have been working so hard, dawn to dusk collecting worms and now they are being harrassed by a lone magpie who never leaves the garden. The poor BBs are now spending most of their time trying to chase off the intruder - is there anything I can do - I know it's natural and all that but it's breaking my heart to watch
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Old Thursday 5th May 2005, 08:21   #2
abagguley
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Hi Metermaid

I have the same problem, and all I've been able to do is chase the maggie away. Luckily, I'm working from home at the moment, so I just keep my window open & listen for alarm calls - when I hear the BB I run out into the garden waving my arms. Not sure what the neighbours make of this. I chase the magpies 2 or 3 times a day, and on Monday I chased off a pair of crows. I can't keep doing this next week, as I'm working away, but I'm just hoping that the chicks have fledged by then.

Part of my problem is that the BB's are nesting in Leylandii, which offers no protection. For next year, I'm going to put some open-fronted nest boxes behind ivy-covered trellises, in the hope that the BB's nest somewhere less accessible to predators.

For what it's worth, I noticed a crow hopping around in a neighbour's conifer yesterday, obviously after chicks. Who do you think the concerned parent was that chased him off? Mr Magpie. What goes around comes around...

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Old Thursday 5th May 2005, 15:35   #3
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I have the same problem with sparrow fledgelings, all day on Monday, there was a fledgeling in a hedge in my backgarden, and the parents were back and forth feeding him, but the was a magpie hovering around and waiting for his moment, I kept on chasing him away, however, when I went in for my tea, the magpie siezed the moment and got the chick, it was heartbreaking after following his plight all day, and I was sorely tempted to take the chick out of harms way, but decided against it.
Its a real tough thing to watch, ...do the magpies take them to thier chicks, or eat them, or just kill them for the fun of it?
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Old Thursday 5th May 2005, 15:36   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Metermaid
Our resident blackbirds have been working so hard, dawn to dusk collecting worms and now they are being harrassed by a lone magpie who never leaves the garden. The poor BBs are now spending most of their time trying to chase off the intruder - is there anything I can do - I know it's natural and all that but it's breaking my heart to watch
Same problem here too (Belgium). Chasing the magpies off doesn't seem to be effective. They just creep back half an hour later, and I can't keep an eye on them all day. I have just resigned myself to the fact that the blackbirds will lose some eggs and chicks every year, and hope they learn to nest in the thickest of thickets.

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Old Thursday 5th May 2005, 15:57   #5
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I remember reading that the number of eggs that make it to adulthood is really low - something like 2%, so I suppose we have to accept lots of BB's not making it. I just tried Googling for the exact BB survival figure for the first year, and I didn't find it, but I found one for Song Thrushes of 0.4%. Looks like it's a tough old world out there for songbirds.
Paul - not sure about the answer to your question - I doubt the maggies do it for fun, it must be for them or their chicks. I saw one carrying a dunnock chick a few weeks ago, but I'm not sure if it was taking it to the nest or just trying to get away from the adult dunnocks to eat it in peace.
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Old Thursday 5th May 2005, 16:47   #6
Jos Stratford
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Quote:
Originally Posted by abagguley
I remember reading that the number of eggs that make it to adulthood is really low - something like 2%, so I suppose we have to accept lots of BB's not making it. I just tried Googling for the exact BB survival figure for the first year, and I didn't find it.
For the population to remain static, from the pair of Blackbirds and all the young from their two or three broods, just two birds will (on average) survive til the following spring. Tough old world out there.
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Old Thursday 5th May 2005, 18:47   #7
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sure is a tough world, the poor sparrow fledgelings in my garden are even attracting attention from squirrells, not just the maggies.
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Old Thursday 5th May 2005, 18:51   #8
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The blackbird fledglings didn't make it in my garden either.

Now watching a young dunnock, was on the ground yesterday, but today I saw him flying around close to the adult, which is good news.

I suspect the pheasants eggs won't survive either, got 8 of them (from what I could see), but I doubt they will survive although I would like to think at least one of them will.
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Old Thursday 5th May 2005, 20:50   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by paulc
I have the same problem with sparrow fledgelings, all day on Monday, there was a fledgeling in a hedge in my backgarden, and the parents were back and forth feeding him, but the was a magpie hovering around and waiting for his moment, I kept on chasing him away, however, when I went in for my tea, the magpie siezed the moment and got the chick, it was heartbreaking after following his plight all day, and I was sorely tempted to take the chick out of harms way, but decided against it.
Its a real tough thing to watch, ...do the magpies take them to thier chicks, or eat them, or just kill them for the fun of it?
I remember a few years ago, we had the remaining fledgeling Song thrush hopping around in our garden. We kept the dog from playing there to give the little fellow a chance, I spent the day chasing Magpies from the garden. I remember looking in absolute horror from the window as a Magpie swooped and with a couple of sharp stabs with his beak killed the young thrush.

No further attemps were made to move or eat the bird.

Nature maybe, but i hate Magpies - they're so common around here too;-(

Steve
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Old Thursday 5th May 2005, 21:30   #10
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Last year magpies killed three sets of blackbird chicks and again this year they are hell bent on the same thing,the poor blackbirds are so stressed it is heartbreaking to watch and hear.I know people will not like it but out of desperation my husband has been dispatching the magpies with his air rifle, i know others will eventually move in but at least it gives the blackbirds a chance of peace this breeding season.Last year they didn't eat any of the chicks they killed,that was left to the jackdaws!Magpies are not welcome in my garden...
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Old Wednesday 11th May 2005, 18:35   #11
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God I haaaate magpies. I always chase them off from my garden too- I have found a jar full of coins shaken vigorously to be a very good deterrant as it scares the magpies away! Strangely the blackbirds weren't at all scared, but I think that's coz they think of me as a big weird-human-kind of-Blackbird anyway as I mimic their danger calls when I see a Magpie near! We have a lot around here because of a wood across the road. I saw one kill an adult sparrow once for no reason, it was so sad, because I heard all this dreadful noise and saw this huge magpie attacking this tiny sparrow. I scared it away but it was too late- the sparrow was still alive but soon died, probably more from the shock than anything. I just think magpies are dreadful birds! Even the noise they make sounds evil, like evil cackling!!
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Old Thursday 12th May 2005, 18:44   #12
Gaz Shilton
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If these blackbirds etc. were not nesting in your gardens would you still loathe the Magpies? I think they call it nature!!!
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Old Friday 13th May 2005, 08:21   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gaz Shilton
If these blackbirds etc. were not nesting in your gardens would you still loathe the Magpies? I think they call it nature!!!
Perhaps we can send all the Magpies over to you for the next few weeks
, I am sick of chasing the ones that live accross the road away from our neighbours Blackbird nest.
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Old Friday 13th May 2005, 08:26   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by helenol
The blackbird fledglings didn't make it in my garden either.

Now watching a young dunnock, was on the ground yesterday, but today I saw him flying around close to the adult, which is good news.

I suspect the pheasants eggs won't survive either, got 8 of them (from what I could see), but I doubt they will survive although I would like to think at least one of them will.
I noticed a blackbird fledgling the other day! At least one of them has survived. Also a lovely song thrush fledgling is coming into the garden with the adult. Young robin visiting too, as well as the young dunnock.
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Old Friday 13th May 2005, 12:20   #15
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We are having the same problem here with the Magpies.Living in the same area as Quacker ,there are a lot of them around.
Unfortunately , working full time makes it difficult for me to chase them through the day but we do chase them when we can.

The Starlings were having a go at one the other day as it tried to get into the nest in the eaves.On that occassion the Magpie left in a hurry.
Last year, we had 3 young Robins all did well and lots of other young birds too so there is a brighter side.
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Old Saturday 14th May 2005, 21:03   #16
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Talking

Quote:
Originally Posted by Marmot
Perhaps we can send all the Magpies over to you for the next few weeks
, I am sick of chasing the ones that live accross the road away from our neighbours Blackbird nest.
Please send them...Not ticked a Magpie in my garden yet, although plenty in the surrounding farmland.....Just let NATURE take its course. After all they will still be doing it long after we have gone I am sure!!!!
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Old Sunday 15th May 2005, 18:04   #17
Zulu Merula
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Some people like to 'let nature take its course' and some people like to lend a helping hand to the garden birds we so grow to love. There is nothing 'wrong' with whatever we choose to do, they are all just choices and whilst you might argue that it is 'natures way', we are a part of nature too, and it is natural for some of us to want to help- and if that involves chasing away magpies- that's what we'll do- hehehe!
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Old Monday 16th May 2005, 08:17   #18
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If Magpies were raptors, and they had to kill songbirds in order to survive (and to feed their chicks), I'd leave them to it. However, as they are omnivorous, they'll get along fine without my blackbird chicks in their diet. I have no problem with maggies per se; yesterday I happily watched a pair of them eating the tray of maggots I'd put out, & I actually think they are very handsome birds - but I won't stand by & watch them kill chicks, even if it is Nature.

Also, it's debatable whether the current bb/magpie situation is as 'Nature' intended - magpie numbers have gone up massively, possibly because they have adapted well to all the (unnatural) urbanisation that we are responsible for; and bb's have to keep choosing unsuitable nesting sites that provide little protection (like the leylandii in my garden) because man has destroyed prime habitat & replaced it with kak like leylandii. (I am trying to get hawthorn to grow in bewtween my leylandii, before anyone moans.)

Also, I've just put up an RSPB blackbird box, & surrounded it with thorny berberis branches to fortify it - it's probably too late for this year, but the bb's should be OK in 2006.

Adrian
(Anxious foster-parent to several blackbirds, a couple of dunnnocks, & some chaffinches. I think the squirrels have taken all the woodpigeon chicks, though.)

Last edited by abagguley : Monday 16th May 2005 at 08:19.
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Old Monday 5th June 2006, 15:12   #19
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Is there really no way at all to chase magpies away?

Ernest
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Old Monday 5th June 2006, 16:49   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by abagguley
Also, it's debatable whether the current bb/magpie situation is as 'Nature' intended - magpie numbers have gone up massively, possibly because they have adapted well to all the (unnatural) urbanisation that we are responsible for; and bb's have to keep choosing unsuitable nesting sites that provide little protection (like the leylandii in my garden) because man has destroyed prime habitat & replaced it with kak like leylandii. (I am trying to get hawthorn to grow in bewtween my leylandii, before anyone moans.)
So you think suburban gardens with bird table and nestboxes, or farmland and hedgerows and little copses, are 'natural' then, do you? Is that the kind of environment that you imagine blackbirds evolved in? The densities of species such as Robin and blackbird in the UK is massively higher than the density in the only 'natural' European lowland forest left (Bialowieza), due to the abundance of suitable habitat and relative lack of predators (not many martens, polecats, weasels, snakes, stoats, mink, mice, jays, woodpeckers etc in your neck of the woods, I imagine?). They can cope with a lot of predation, that's why they have about 15 young per year. The kinds of 'edge' and marginal habitat that most of Britian is made up of is completely unnatural and totally des-res for blackbird and robin, much much more so than the original blanket forest. In short, blackbird and robin numbers are also massively inflated and at a completely unnatural level. Whatever 'natural' is.
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Old Monday 5th June 2006, 16:56   #21
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Originally Posted by artdancelove
Is there really no way at all to chase magpies away?

Ernest
Not really. They're territorial, where you expect them to go? Shoot them, and another will pop up in a few days. Unless you do it over a very wide area (eg regional) and, like, forever.

You can protect nests to some point by putting a chekenwire screen around them or the area of the bush they're nesting in, but leaving enough space for the adults to get in and out, but it's a long shot and may be counterproductive.

Remember, it only needs 2 blackbirds out of every pair and all the young they will raise that year to survive til the next spring for the population to remain stable. That means that the average family will have to lose about 10-15 individuals a year to keep the status quo. If every one survived, or even half, or any more than c.10-20%, then we'd soon be knee-deep in blackbirds.
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Old Monday 5th June 2006, 20:53   #22
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I have built a Larson Trap and it is set permanently in my garden. Until I built the trap for years no eggs or chicks survived, against nature or not, this is the best way I know to give the birds a chance to rear their young breed in peace.
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Old Monday 5th June 2006, 21:48   #23
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why dont you try putting out some food for the magpie to try and distract it from the bb's
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Old Tuesday 6th June 2006, 08:50   #24
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I have built a Larson Trap and it is set permanently in my garden. Until I built the trap for years no eggs or chicks survived, against nature or not, this is the best way I know to give the birds a chance to rear their young breed in peace.
So how long between catches? How long doe sit take for your magpie to be replaced? Because there is a floating population that fill in gaps such as the ones you create so, effectively, you're going to have to keep this up for perpetuity and all so that you can create punctuated small windows when a magpie isn't present before the next one arrives. It's simply pointless. The only way to stop other magpies arriving is to have a magpie resident.

You say that "no eggs or chicks survived", but how can you possibly know that? Do you seach *and find* all nests in your magpies' territory? Do you monitor all nest failures and know for sure that it was a magpie, and not a cat/mouse/squirrel/boy etc? Or are you just assuming that from seeing several obvious nests fail (that were simple enough for even a human to find)?
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Old Tuesday 6th June 2006, 10:35   #25
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My breeding magpies do a grand job of chasing the squirrels and cats off. They also take a dim view of Carrion Crows You will find that European songbirds have evolved alongside Magpies (unlike grey squirrels) and the ones with the better survival adaptation manage to get enough young off to maintain the population.
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