What do you do if magpies are wreaking havoc in your garden? Magpies are very intelligent and active birds and may be helping themselves to anything and everything they want to eat in your yard. The best way to get magpies out of your yard is to use an integrated, humane approach that includes cutting off their food and water supply to the extent that you can and scaring them away using various objects and noises.
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What Attracts Magpies to Your Home
Magpies come to your yard or garden in search of food. They eat fruits, vegetables, and grains and rifle through your trash as well as eating flies, beetles, grasshoppers, spiders, caterpillars, worms, and small animals like rabbits, mice, rats, squirrels, and voles. They also eat other birds and raid the nests of other birds to eat their eggs.
In addition, magpies come to drink water from birdbaths and take food from bird feeders. If you want to continue to provide bird feeders in your yard, use those that are made for small birds only. This includes feeders with holes that are only large enough for small birds or those that have a feeding bar that lowers and closes off access to birdseed when it is weighed down by a larger, heavier bird. Do not leave any pet food or water outside as magpies will gladly eat it. They may also stop by your yard to look for shelter.
High numbers of magpies can eat away at your entire garden relatively quickly. They can be aggressive and may even come at you if they are upset. Magpies also have a loud squawk that can be irritating. However, on the plus side, they eat garden pests.
Cover Your Plants
Cut off magpies' food supply by using protective netting made of nylon or plastic to cover affected plants, including fruits, vegetables, and grains. Do not leave any bird food in feeders, water in birdbaths, or pet food outside as magpies will get into it. Once they realize there is no food or water to be had in your yard, they will eventually move on and leave you alone.
Use Hanging, Reflective Objects
Magpies are scared away by sunlight reflecting off shiny, metallic surfaces. You can use several objects to produce this effect. Hang CDs, metallic Mylar balloons, aluminum pie pans, and/or half-full plastic bottles 3 feet above the grass near any plants that the magpies are disturbing. The wind makes these objects move and twist, causing sunlight to reflect off their shiny surfaces in an unpredictable way.
You can also purchase bird-scaring balloons — often referred to as predator eye balloons or scary eye balloons — that achieve the same effect. They come in yellow, white, and black and have small, circular, reflective metal centers that look like eyes. To magpies, these resemble the eyes of predators.
Bird-scaring balloons blow in the wind and have a streamer that resembles a tail. To be effective, hanging objects should be moved weekly so that the magpies do not figure them out or become used to them.
Bird-scare tape is another reflective item that works in a similar manner to scare away magpies. It is metallic and has a diamond-shaped pattern that reflects sunlight. String it loosely, twist it, and hang it 18 inches above the plants or directly on them. This creates a shiny, novel object that magpies will avoid as they do not know what it is.
Try a Scarecrow
Scarecrows have been around for ages and are still effective at frightening off magpies. Secure the scarecrow so that its arms and legs can move in the wind to give the illusion of a living person. Make eyes on both the front and back of the head so that it works from both directions.
You will need to move the scarecrow periodically over time so the magpies do not grow accustomed to it. Depending on the size of your yard, you may need more than one scarecrow, which can cover 2 to 10 acres, according to Wildlife Damage Management.
Install a Hawk Kite
You can purchase a hawk kite, which is made in the shape of a real hawk and has the photographic image of a hawk printed on it. It looks lifelike and is attached to a pole to allow it to move and fly in the wind. Magpies will think it is a real hawk and stay away.
Make Some Noise
You can intermittently play CDs or recordings with the sounds of crows and rooks in distress. Switch up the time of day and length of time you play the sounds to keep the magpies on alert. These sounds may cause concern for magpies and make them think a predator is near.
- Royal Society for the Protection of Birds: Deterrents to Get Rid of Magpies
- The Field: How to Deter Magpies
- Wildlife Damage Management: Magpie Damage Management
- U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service: Black-Billed Magpies
- Royal Society for the Protection of Birds: What Do Magpies Eat?
- Express: How to Get Rid of Magpies From Your Garden - 5 Quick and Easy Deterrents