You either love them or hate them, but magpies usually generate lots of positive or negative comments from gardeners. They are often regarded as the hooligans of the wild bird population. Although they are still venerated with superstitious awe by some.
Magpies are large garden birds and are instinctive killers, particularly in the breeding season, when they hunt for other bird eggs, fledgelings and nestlings to feed their young. How much damage they do to garden bird populations is debatable, as no research has been carried out.
They often scare away other garden birds and will dominate bird tables, although they are less likely to feed on hanging feeders.
Magpies are omnivorous and will also eat large grubs, earthworms, fruit and seeds.
Although magpies will peck around in the soil looking for insects, the main garden damage is done to the lawn where they create holes while looking for grubs, such as leatherjackets and chafer grubs. That being said, magpies are a useful control for these two root-eating plant pests.
Treatment and control
It is impossible to keep magpies out of the garden. To help protect other garden birds, provide lots of suitable nesting sites that give them some security and safety. Put nesting boxes in places that magpies can’t get to.
Protect wild bird food on bird tables within a wire-netting cage with a mesh size that excludes the magpies.