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magpieMagpies (gymnorhina species)
Seasonal Aggressors

The Problem
  • Magpies behave aggressively towards people as they defend their territory and young throughout their breeding months of July to November. They swoop on people sometimes striking the targeted person on the head. There have been incidents where people have lost an eye to magpie attacks.
  • Magpies are also thought to adversely affect native birds by driving them from their habitat, and by predating their chicks and eggs.
  • Apart from these undesirable characteristics they benefit farmers by consuming large amounts of grass grub and harmful insects.
  • In rural areas magpies can be shot by using a shotgun, .22 rimfire rifle or a high powered air rifle.
  • Magpie decoys can be placed out in a paddock, together with a magpie distress call tape to attract the magpies.
  • When the distress tape is played the magpies swoop in on the decoys with great enthusiasm and may even attack them. This will often present an opportunity to get a close shot at them.
  • Decoys and distress tapes may be purchased from your Regional Council.
  • Magpies are inquisitive birds and can be lured into purpose-built cage traps.
  • The Larsen trap is a metre square cage trap that is divided into three compartments. One compartment takes up half of the cage and accommodates a live 'call' bird. The other two compartments take up a quarter each of the cage. These smaller compartments each have trap doors which are triggered when a magpie lands on a perch, thus trapping the magpies.
  • If you want to build you own magpie trap your Regional Council may be able to supply plans.
  • Magpies can be poisoned using Alphachloralose paste applied to small squares of bread or by mixing the poison into melted fat or lard.
  • Alphachloralose is a narcotic which puts the bird to sleep. It is essential that magpies are watched from a discreet distance. When the toxin takes effect the birds must be collected and destroyed, otherwise they will wake up and recover.
  • Prefeeding with plain bread should be undertaken before attempting to use the Alphachloralose. The prefeeding phase will ensure that magpies eat the Alphachloralose bait without hesitation.
  • Alphachloralose does not require a special poison license when used in low concentrations. The narcotic action means that if non-target birds eat the toxin, they can be kept in a warm quiet place to recover.

This information is reproduced with the kind permission of Wellington Regional Council who produce the pamphlet this information is taken from.

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