Morning Live: Rav Wilding gives tips on deterring garden thieves
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Magpies, once they get into a garden, tend to steal food from other birds and animals. They also eat garden produce, make a mess but are incredibly smart animals, so keeping them away seems like an impossible task at times. Magpies are considered by many to be one of the smartest birds there are, so you should understand what attracts magpies and how you can scare them away without affecting other wildlife and plants. Here are some techniques you can try.
Cover fruit and garden produce with nets
Getting rid of fruit and vegetables from your garden is an impractical solution unless it’s time to harvest.
Otherwise, you won’t see the benefits of your hard work.
However, you can render your goods off limits to magpies by covering them with netting, throwing protection over your fruit trees in particular.
Cover vegetables with it as well – magpies will be able to see the product but won’t be able to get much off it, so this will help keep them away as they’ll eventually have to go elsewhere for their dinner.
Use special bird feeders
If there’s one thing magpies love, it’s a bird feeder, as the easy meal is just too tempting for them.
To make matters worse, magpies are bullying creatures meaning they’ll often scare away smaller birds – but that doesn’t mean you have to give up feeding them.
Instead, replace your feeder with one specifically created for smaller birds which block squirrels or bigger birds accessing the feed by lowering the feeding bar when heavier weight is applied.
When the bar drops down, it closes the door to the birdseed, therefore preventing bigger creatures from accessing the seeds.
Another specialist bird feeder that protects against magpies features holes just big enough for smaller birds.
Eliminate bird baths
Magpies are very attracted to water, just like any other bird, so getting rid of your bird baths – at least while trying to fight magpies – is an essential step.
You should also look for and eliminate any standing pools of water in your garden and avoid overwatering your plants.
If you have an area of water, like a pond, that you can’t get rid of, then scare the magpies away by using decoys.
One decoy idea is to utilise your old CDs by hanging them around areas you want to keep magpie-free.
The CDs will move and revolve in the wind, with the reflection bouncing off unpredictable and effective in keeping magpies away.
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Cover and get rid of food sources
In addition to produce and birdseed, magpies will eat from the bin, pet food and anything else edible they can get their hands on.
If magpies gather on your roof, then check and clear out your gutters as they can often collect leaves, dirt and worms – a delicious meal for magpies.
Try to cover your gutters if your magpie problem is really bad as this will stop them coming back.
Move your pet food indoors, as magpies will eat cat and dog food, but they’re more likely to do so during the summer when food is scarce.
Use bird scare tape
Attach bird scare tape, which can be found online, to stakes and string it about 18inches above potential food and water sources.
Twist the tape several times while stringing it and giving it enough slack to hang loosely.
The bird scare tape gives off patches of red and metallic silver in the sunlight.
This creates reflections that will scare the magpies away, because as mentioned above, they’re really clever animals that are hard to fool.
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