Encyclopaedia of Birdcare
MagpiesUnlike domestic cats, magpies are part of the native fauna, and to that extent ought to be acceptable in the garden. As with most members of the crow family, they are scavengers and part-time predators, taking eggs and young birds when these are available. They have increased in numbers since the beginning of the twentieth century, becoming more common in urban areas of Britain from the 1940s. It might seem reasonable to expect that more Magpies will mean fewer small birds as a result of predation, but scientific research (as opposed to anecdotal evidence) has shown that in fact this is not the case, probably because eggs and young birds form only a minor part of the Magpie's very varied diet. For nests outside nest boxes or in other inaccessible sites, there is no effective protection from Magpies, but garden birds have evolved in an environment which includes such predation and so their overall populations ought to be able to cope even if Magpies cause havoc at one particular spot. At feeding stations it is possible to exclude Magpies by using devices which reduce the headroom available, such as the Universal Cover manufactured by Droll Yankees Inc..
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