Get Growing : Getgrowing_5 Oct 2012
Q A Q&A 43 44 MENACING MAGPIES Any idea how to rid the garden of invading magpies? They swoop down in large numbers every day. Even my cats dive for cover. Fiona Williams Magpies live in family groups so when they move in, they arrive in large numbers because they bring their aunts, uncles and all their cousins too (literally). At this time of the year, while establishing their nests and breeding, they are aggressive, though this only lasts a few weeks. If you want to try to eliminate the problem, an ongoing trapping regime is the best tactic. I say ongoing because it’s just like possum or rabbit hunting – remove one population and the population next door naturally takes over the space, so don’t think catching one or two will work. You need to have a level of commitment over time. My uncle started trapping and shooting the odd magpie he saw and he’s now up to over 100 in less than 12 months! But most of the time you won’t notice them that often – it’s only during nesting that they start swooping and getting very defensive. Try to avoid going into their range if possible, but if you can’t, don’t run from a swooping bird, and wear a hat or carry an umbrella if you’re worried about being attacked. The best traps for magpies are double or multi-cage ones: you catch one magpie (the call/decoy bird), then leave it (alive) in one side of the trap so when it calls out its family members will fly down to see what’s going on. In this way you can often catch several birds a day if you’re vigilant. You are obliged to take good care of the call bird and feed it properly with protein (not just bread or seeds). You’ll find instructions on how to make a magpie trap here. Or you can buy ready-made traps (like the Trip- Trap) – seek advice from your rural supply store or regional council. If you do use a trap, you must remove any magpies you have trapped and dispose of them, otherwise other magpies won’t come near the trap. The very best bait, as recommended by a top magpie trapper, is raw kidney. Just make sure your dogs and cats are locked up, not because the traps will hurt them but because magpies won’t come near if predators are around. Nadene Hall, NZ Lifestyle Block Magpie photo by Greg Casey, Friends of Te Henui website.
12 Oct 2012