Magpies are sometimes too clever for their own good, and discouraging them from specific garden areas can be tricky. However, by understanding their behavior, you will be able to learn some tricks of your own, and soon you will be able to keep magpies away from your birdfeeders.
There are some ways to keep your birdfeeders safe from magpies:
- Use squirrel proof bird feeders
- Remove your birdbath
- Use holographic pinwheels
- Hang reflective CDs
- Make a scarecrow
- Use large eyes
- Try spiral reflectors
- Stick up reflective tape
- Hang up plastic water bottles
- Get a predator decoy
- Keep pet food indoors
- Keep your yard clean and tidy
The best way to keep magpies away from bird feeders is to learn to think like one of these cunning little champions of survival. They may not be the loveliest of birds, and they can be bullies, but one has to admire their sheer determination, and with some planning, you can make your bird feeders off-limits to magpies.
How to Keep Magpies Away from Birdfeeders
Having a birdfeeder where you can see it adds vibrant color and interest to any garden. Pretty little birds fluttering about busily, enjoying the feast that you have provided.
But if the small birds at your bird feeder have a few bully magpies that make their lives difficult, there are a few practical things you can do to quiet down the airspace around your home.
Magpies are extremely intelligent birds that are related to crows and jays. They are endearing in their own way, but their noisy chatter and boisterous ways often overpower other birds. You may need to encourage them to relocate so you can enjoy the small birds that your feeder was intended for.
The best way to keep magpies away from your bird feeder without chasing the smaller birds is to use their size and the fact that they are smarter than many smaller birds to your advantage.
You have probably heard that magpies are attracted to shiny objects. However, scientific data suggests the opposite. Magpies seem to be really afraid of shimmering things.
Remember that no matter what method you select to deter magpies from hanging around your bird feeder, these birds are very intelligent and will soon realize if a scary object hasn’t moved for a few days. The key is to create movement and to move deterrents around every few days.
It is important to remember that as much as magpies may be frustrating you, they are only doing what comes naturally to find food and shelter.
Magpies are a protected species of migratory birds, so they cannot be harmed using lethal methods. However, you can dissuade them from using your bird feeder by outsmarting their bird brains.
1 – Use Squirrel Proof Bird Feeders
Magpies are larger than most of the birds that you want to invite to your bird feeder. They use their size and their loud voices to intimidate other birds.
But their size can also count against them when it comes to reaching into small places. Special bird feeders have been designed to prevent squirrels from depleting the seed in your bird feeder.
Squirrel-proof feeders also work to keep bigger types of birds, like magpies, at bay. While they may still hover around hoping for a free snack, they will soon become frustrated at trying to reach in to get the feed.
Although squirrel-proof feeders are specifically created to deter squirrels and chipmunks, larger bird species like magpies can also not fit through the exterior wire protective cage.
A note of caution about the base of very narrow squirrel-proof feeders. A few birders have noted that birds can get their feet stuck in the small spaces, especially around the bottom, where the gap may be smaller. If this is a concern, you can wrap some wide tape around the base of the feeder.
2 – Remove the Birdbath
While a birdbath and a bird feeder may seem like two different things, magpies love birdbaths. These noisy birds are more likely to hang around in your garden and try to take over if a birdbath is available.
While it may feel a little drastic to deprive your friendly little birds of their favorite bath spot, you might only need to remove the birdbath for a few weeks. Once your local magpies have relocated, you can put it out again.
3 – Use Holographic Pinwheels
As kids, we all loved pinwheels. Those fun spiny little windmills seemed to spin endlessly with just a gentle blow.
Maybe as a result of evolving into the little villains of the bird world, magpies are always vigilant, and their sharp eyes are quick to spot any suspicious movement. You can use the power of the wind to create flickering motion that will deter magpies.
Grab a few kids’ pinwheels of different sizes from any toy store and pin them up in spots where your resident magpies like to perch. The holographic ones work best for this as they create a reflective flickering reflection.
Keep in mind that the pinwheels will be exposed to the elements, so if you need them for an extended period, you may need to purchase sturdier, weather-resistant ones.
4 – Hang Reflective CDs
A quick and easy way to baffle magpies and keep them away from specific areas is to hang up old CDs. Use some fishing line and attach old CDs at different heights in places where they will reflect sunlight.
This is a great way to repurpose CDs, and it won’t cost you anything. You can even attach more than one shiny cd lengthways, separated by pieces of nylon. The twisting, shimmering reflection of the CDs will keep magpies guessing.
5 – Make a Scarecrow
Crows, and their family, magpies have been pesky for many generations. Our predecessors dealt with this challenge by placing a scarecrow in the middle of fields they were trying to protect.
Magpies are not trusting of humans. Sure they may act bold and even occasionally swoop if they are nesting or putting on a show to protect their young nearby. But in general, magpies will avoid getting too close to any creature larger than themselves.
Decide on a position close to where you have your bird feeder and make building a scarecrow a fun project. You can recycle old clothes or dress your scarecrow according to the seasons.
Change your scarecrow’s outfits and hats regularly to keep the clever little magpies suspicious of the scary ‘person’ that’s standing near your birdfeeder.
6 – Use Scary Eyes
You might have heard that magpies are afraid of eyes, but there does not appear to be any solid evidence that eyes on their own have much effect. However, a combination of reflective light, along with huge eyes, is definitely a winning combination.
Special pest-proof inflatable balloons are available that you can place close to your bird feeder. While the other birds will quickly get used to the giant reflective eye set on a bright yellow background, the clever magpies will remain suspicious and avoid the area.
A bird-scaring balloon like Guard’n Eyes is a safe and humane way to keep magpies away from all the areas you want to protect. The special ‘terror eyes’ feature frightens magpies away, and your birdfeeder can once again become a quiet oasis of tranquility.
Bird scaring balloons are not only effective in keeping magpies away from your bird feeder but they can also be used to discourage magpies from feasting from your fruit trees.
7 – Use Spiral Reflectors
A shimmering wall of twisting holographic spirals is sure to frighten away even the most determined magpie. Bird blinders or scare rods are available at most garden centers.
Spiral reflectors can be suspended from the edge of a roof or branch of the tree close to your bird feeder. Magpies will avoid the area while other smaller birds won’t be too phased about the shiny movement.
Hanging spirals and bird blinders come in various designs and shiny metallic shades, so you can choose colors that blend into your holiday decorating.
8 – Use Reflective Tape
Reflective tape, or scare tape, is a clever way to deter magpies from your bird feeders. The versatile reflective tape can be attached in strips close to the birdfeeder or hung to dangle and twist in the breeze.
Bird deterrent tape is a straightforward and effective way to deter magpies from an area. By observing where they land, you can target specific spots to place your bird tape that will scare away pesky magpies without scaring smaller birds away from your bird feeder.
Bird tape has been used successfully to keep pest birds off porches and protect crops from fruit-eating birds.
9 – Use Plastic Water Bottles
If you need a quick solution to deter a magpie that has just started using your birdfeeder, try hanging up some half-filled plastic water bottles.
Hanging water bottles may not be the most attractive permanent option magpie-repelling option, but it may persuade a newcomer in the area to keep on moving. Half-filled water bottles will reflect sunlight, and the movement created as they sway in the breeze is unsettling to magpies.
10 – Use An Owl Decoy
One of the best tricks to keep magpies away from your bird feeder is to fool them into thinking there is a predator in the vicinity. After all, they don’t want to end up being on the wrong side of a quick meal!
Realistic-looking horned owl decoys with a rotating head will create an environment where magpies will not feel comfortable. Try placing a decoy scare-owl in an area near to your bird feeder where magpies are being pesky.
Some scare owl decoys are solar-powered, so they don’t require batteries to keep on intimidating the magpies —just another clever way to outsmart the little bullies at your birdfeeder.
11 – Keep Pet Food Indoors
Magpies are a successful species because they are intelligent and have also adapted to eat a wide variety of food. So unlike some birds that can only eat fruit, seeds, or bugs, magpies are less specialized.
If you find that there are bully magpies around your bird feeder, it is recommended to move anything edible out of sight, or they will continue to hang around despite your best magpie-proofing efforts.
Keep your dog’s food inside or out of sight of magpies. These pesky little birds will readily snatch pellets from open bowls and may even swoop to try and bully your dog out of its food.
12 – Keep Your Yard Clean and Tidy
Magpies are curious birds and will inspect any area where they think they could score an easy meal. Keeping the space around your bird feeder clear of odds and ends will make it a less attractive place for magpies.
In addition to keeping the yard clean and tidy, it is a good idea to keep trees neatly trimmed. Magpies nest in thick foliage, and once they have started nesting in an area, it will be more challenging to keep them away from a nearby feeder.
Always keep your house rain gutters clear of debris because magpies are always eager to find insects and worms. They readily inspect leaf-filled gutters. If you have a bird feeder nearby, they will quickly turn their attention to it and take over.
Magpies are incredibly intelligent birds that quickly take advantage of an easy food source like bird feeders. Keeping them away can be challenging.
Using squirrel-proof feeders will deter magpies who will not be able to reach the seed. Other methods to outsmart the clever birds include building a scarecrow, using reflective objects, predator decoys, and keeping the environment as magpie-unfriendly as possible.
Ben has a bachelor’s degree in construction engineering. When not constructing or remodeling X-Ray Rooms, Cardiovascular Labs, and Pharmacies, you can find him at home with wife and two daughters. Outside of family, He loves grilling and barbequing on his Big Green Egg and Blackstone Griddle, as well as working on projects around the house.
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Mrs C Kelly
Saturday 21st of May 2022
I am trying the CD idea and so far it has deterred the magpies, but unfortunately the little birds have kept away too - which is not what I want! I have a squirrel-proof feeder which does put off the squirrels after they have tried to get the seed several times. The magpies however jump up and hit the feeder which allows a few seeds to drop the the ground where they pick them up, and do it all over again! Clever! What to do? HELP!
Monday 2nd of May 2022
I think you’re wrong to keep magpies from your feeder, particularly during the nesting months.
Because magpies will eat the young in nests whether they’re still unhatched or hatched.
So my theory is, keep them well fed and they wont need to go murdering other birds…least not as much….