Are you trying to keep magpies away? Magpies are a nuisance across most of the Northern Hemisphere and Australia. They steal food from other birds and animals. They eat garden produce, fruits, and vegetables and make a mess. Magpies are incredibly smart so keeping them away is difficult but possible.
How To Keep Magpies Away: Eliminate the attractions to your magpies. They have come seeking food and shelter. You can contain food, remove it, or make it unavailable to magpies. Combine that approach with reflection and sound to scare them away. Finally, one Australian tale solved a magpie problem using eyes to scare magpies away.
It’s most helpful to understand what attracts magpies and how you can scare them away without affecting other wildlife and birds. This can be difficult because of how intelligent magpies are. They are considered by many to be one of the most intelligent birds.
Because magpies are so intelligent, they adapt quickly to pretty much all of the scare tactics available, especially if there are things attracting them to your yard and garden. So, it’s important to eliminate the reasons that magpies are attracted to your property. This list will cover both things you should do to stop attracting magpies and some steps you can take to scare magpies away. If you both eliminate magpie attractions and use scare tactics, you will be able to reduce or eliminate the number of magpies around.
Let’s dive in.
1. Cover Fruit and Garden Vegetables With Nets
Keep magpies away by minimizing the foods that attract them to your yard and garden. Fruit and some garden vegetables make a delicious magpie meal. But, eliminating fruit or vegetables from your garden isn’t practical until it’s time to harvest. (Otherwise, you won’t see the benefits of your hard work.) But, you can make it off-limits to magpies by covering it with netting. Throw protective netting over your fruit trees. Netting comes in many different sizes. Cut it to fit your plants and cages.
Cover vegetables and fruit plants with it. Magpies will be able to see the fruit but won’t be able to pick at it very much. This will help keep them away as they will eventually have to find another food source.
2. Use Special Bird Feeders That Prevent Magpies From Eating
Magpies love to hover around bird feeders. The ready, easy meal is too tempting for them. Eliminate the easy meal and you’ll eliminate a main reasons magpies visit. They are a ready bully so they easily scare away smaller birds. But, that doesn’t mean you must give up feeding smaller birds. Instead, replace your standard bird feeders with a feeder made specifically for smaller birds.
Keep magpies away by eliminating the birdseed buffet. Use birdfeeders that prevent large birds and small animals, like squirrels and chipmunks, from feasting. Special bird feeders block squirrel or large bird access by lowering the feeding bar when heavier weight is applied. When the bar lowers, it closes the “door” to the birdseed. This prevents larger birds from accessing the seeds and prevents feedings.
Another style of birdfeeder that protects against magpies has a metal casing with holes only large enough for small birds. Larger birds, such as magpies, cannot get in to access the food.
3. Eliminate Bird Baths (A Popular Magpie Party)
If you have a birdbath, getting rid of magpies in your yard will be nearly impossible. Magpies are attracted to water, just like any other bird. Get rid of your bird baths, which are a huge attraction for magpies, at least while you are fighting magpies. This is an essential step. You should also look for and eliminate any standing pools of water in your yard.
Plus, avoid overwatering your plants. If you have an area of water, such as a creek, canal, or pond, that you can’t eliminate, then scare the magpies away. Add decoys to scare the magpies away. Move them around. We’ll cover that below.
4. Cover and Get Rid of Food Sources
In addition, to produce and birdseed, magpies will eat from the trash can, pet food, and other edible things. Magpies eat meat and vegetation, so they can almost always find an easy dinner.
If magpies gather on your roof, check and clean your rain gutters. Rain gutters often collect leaves, dirt, and worms. This makes a tasty meal for magpies. Cleaning out your rain gutters can encourage the Magpies to move on. You can use hardware cloth to cover rain gutters. This keeps them clean while allowing rainwater to collect and move along the gutters.
Check other areas of your deck and yard. Don’t leave food out unless you are present and using it.
Move your pet food indoors or into the garage for feedings. Magpies will eat dog and cat food, although they are likelier to eat it when food is scarce or in the summertime. (They tend to search out more plant-based foods in the winter)
5. Use Decoys to Scare Magpies Away
There are several commercial decoys meant to scare magpies away. I’ve used pretty much all of them. There are several decoys that you can use to scare magpies away. But, be warned, because magpies are so clever, they can figure out that the decoy is fake within a week.
Scarecrows to Scare Magpies Awa
Scarecrows are pretty popular as a tool to scare magpies away. They can be made for no cost. You can buy people scarecrows (Amazon) and owl scarecrows (Amazon). The best scarecrows are made with old clothes and straws. This makes them look more real. You can also buy scarecrows on Amazon if you aren’t inclined to make some.
To make a scarecrow, find old pants, and a shirt, and gather straw or dried weeds. Stuff the clothes with the straw, dried grass, or weeds. Prop the scarecrow up in your garden. Move the scarecrow every four days to a week to keep it effective.
Hanging CDs to Startle Magpies
Use your old CDs by hanging them around areas you want to keep magpies out of. The CDs will move and revolve in the wind. The reflection of light that comes off of them is unpredictable and will be pretty effective in keeping magpies away. You can layer CDs.
Arrange CDs about 5 feet apart in spacing for best effectiveness. CDs can be hung along your patio roof, garden, or fruit trees. Be aware that CDs will scare and keep away other birds as well.
Half-Filled Water Bottles Scare Magpies
Scare magpies away by hanging water bottles that are half-full with water. The water in the water bottles will reflect the sunlight, and as the branches move, the light will also move. This scares magpies away.
Partially filled water bottles aren’t the most popular option because they aren’t as attractive in a yard or garden. But, water bottles can be handy in an orchard or as a temporary measure. And, with the increased digital music, you might have a more challenging time finding unused CDs.
Bird Tape Deters Magpies
Bird tape deters magpies by creating light reflections that move in multiple directions. Bird tape (Amazon) comes in long, reflective stripes that reflect a rainbow of light. It often curls so that the light can catch it from all directions. Some types of bird tape have a bright color on one side and a shiny metal reflective surface on the other.
You can also use strips of aluminum foil as bird tape, but it isn’t as durable. Aluminum will rip easily, creating a bit of a cleanup project for you if you don’t stay on top of it regularly.
6. Play Recordings of Predators on an Irregular Schedule
Recording a distressed owl or other predators can help keep magpies away because they become aware that a predator may be nearby. Recordings will take consistent time for you to adjust the recordings.
The recordings should be spaced to play at irregular intervals or they will cease to work. Magpies are highly intelligent and will quickly adjust to regular recordings. Consider moving the player around so that the sounds come from different locations.
7. Rotate Decoys Frequently to Fool Magpies
You will keep magpies away better if you continually move and rotate decoys. It’s a bit of a nuisance to check and change your decoys around continually. But, taking the time each week to move around CDs, scarecrows, and water bottles will help keep them working and keep magpies looking for a new place to hang out. It helps keep magpies from adjusting to the decoys.
8. Use “Eyes” to Scare Magpies
One Australian rumor states that magpies are afraid of being looked at. In places where magpies have grown incredibly used to people, they have attacked children’s backpacks. Supposedly, putting large eyes on the back of the backpacks keeps the Magpies at bay.
Apply this idea at your house. Mount painted eyes on tree trunks, your shed, or other places you want to keep magpies away. Or buy an eye kite off Amazon. They may be afraid of the eyes, not because they don’t like being looked at, but because large eyes may trigger an instinctive response. Large eyes often belong to large predators.
What Will Scare Magpies Away?
Magpies adapt very quickly. They can adapt to people, cities, sounds, smells and even sights. Below are several things that have worked on Magpies. If some don’t work for the magpies you are struggling with, try another idea until you find the right one.
- Hanging CDs or water bottles
- Predator recordings
- Large Eyes
- Flashing lights
- Bright colors
What do magpies eat? Magpies eat almost anything including berries, nuts, grains. They will scavenge table scraps, chicken feed, and pet food. They eat meat, including rotten and decaying animals, and roadkill. Magpies will kill and eat small birds, and small mammals. This includes the eggs and chicks of other birds. They will eat rodents, including mice, voles, and occasionally rats. They will eat worms, mollusks, and other invertebrates.
Why do magpies swoop? The male magpie swoops during the breeding season to protect his young. Once the chicks leave the nest, magpies will stop swooping. Magpies don’t generally swoop at night because they are not active and cannot see as well. If a magpie swoops, you turn and face it. That often will divert the magpie away. Additionally, threatening their young will only increase swooping, and magpies can remember individual human behavior.
How do I identify a magpie? Magpies are identifiable by their black and white coloring. However, some varieties of magpies have a blue and green color. Still, others are tan and blue with a black hood. Magpies also have a long, wedge-shaped tail. They are medium-sized birds.