How to Discourage Magpies from Your Garden Effectively



Magpies, with their striking black and white plumage and remarkable intelligence, are a common sight in many gardens. While they are a fascinating species, their presence isn’t always welcome by gardeners. Protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act of 1981, magpies cannot be harmed or their nests disturbed. However, for those who find their gardens turned topsy-turvy by these birds, seeking ways to deter them is perfectly legal and often necessary.

Magpies are known to wreak havoc in outdoor spaces, pilfering eggs, upending bird feeders, and leaving a trail of scattered foliage in their wake. Before embarking on a quest to discourage these birds, it’s essential to weigh your reasons. While some see them as pests, others value magpies for their role in the ecosystem and their enigmatic nature.

This introduction paves the way for a deeper dive into understanding magpie behavior, exploring humane deterrents, and considering the broader implications of our interactions with these protected birds.

Understanding Magpie Behavior

Magpies are not just another bird; they are the Houdinis of the avian world, possessing a remarkable level of intelligence that rivals that of some primates.

This cognitive prowess enables them to solve complex problems and adapt quickly to changes in their environment, making the task of deterring them from gardens a real challenge.

Their ability to learn and remember, particularly when it comes to food sources, can make your garden a repeated target.

The trick is to outsmart these clever creatures, and one effective method is by playing on their dislike for reflecting light.

It has been observed that magpies are not fans of bright, flashing lights, so introducing items that reflect sunlight, such as old CDs or plastic bottles filled halfway with water, can create an environment that’s less inviting for them.

These shiny objects, dancing in the wind and casting unpredictable patterns of light, can help keep magpies at bay, providing a simple yet ingenious way to protect your garden’s tranquility without causing harm to these intelligent birds.

Physical Deterrents for Magpies

When it comes to keeping magpies at how-can-i-discourage-magpies-from-my-garden-2a respectful distance from your garden, sometimes the best offense is a good defense. Physical deterrents can be remarkably effective without causing any harm to these birds. One of the most straightforward methods is to hang objects that catch the sun and reflect light, such as old CDs or specially designed bird tape. These items flutter and shine unpredictably, which can startle and deter magpies, making your garden less appealing to their curious and watchful eyes.

Another practical measure is to use netting to cover fruit trees, berry bushes, and vegetable patches. This barrier prevents magpies from reaching the tasty treats they often seek, encouraging them to look elsewhere for sustenance. The key here is to ensure the netting is secured and maintained so that it doesn’t become a hazard to wildlife. By employing these physical deterrents, you create an environment that’s less attractive to magpies, preserving your garden’s beauty and bounty. These strategies, while simple, can make a significant difference in keeping magpies from turning your garden into their playground.

Auditory Deterrents and Their Effects

When it comes to protecting your garden’s serenity, the soundscape can play a pivotal role.

Auditory deterrents, such as bird-scaring devices that mimic the distress calls of predators or emit sudden, loud noises, can be surprisingly effective in keeping magpies at bay. These devices tap into the magpies’ instinctual fear of predators, causing them to steer clear of areas where they perceive danger.

However, it’s important to note that while these sounds are targeted at avian pests, they may also be audible to humans and could potentially disturb the peace for neighbors or disrupt the local soundscape. Therefore, it’s essential to consider the volume and frequency of these auditory deterrents to ensure they are effective without being a nuisance.

In the ongoing battle to maintain a magpie-free garden, incorporating sound as a deterrent can be a smart move, just remember to strike a balance that respects both the birds and the human residents of your neighborhood.

Removing Attractants from Your Garden

Making your garden less inviting to magpies doesn’t require a degree in ornithology, just a bit of garden housekeeping. Begin by removing obvious food sources that are a magpie magnet. Leftovers from pet food bowls, exposed compost heaps, and unsecured garbage bins can turn your garden into a magpie dining room. It’s crucial to keep these potential feasts out of sight by securing lids on bins and compost containers and cleaning up any pet food before it becomes a bird buffet.

Consider the inadvertent invitations you may be sending. Bread, meat scraps, or other edibles left on open surfaces like a garage roof can attract not only magpies but also other opportunistic birds like seagulls, which in turn can discourage the smaller, more desirable birds from visiting your garden. Keeping gutters clear of debris also eliminates a water source and potential nesting material for these crafty birds. Through these simple, proactive steps, you can significantly reduce the allure of your garden to magpies, making it more likely that they’ll pass over your patch in search of easier pickings elsewhere.

Creating a Garden That Welcomes Smaller Birds

Creating a garden that is a haven for smaller birds involves strategic planning and an understanding of what these feathered friends seek. By providing a variety of food and water sources, you can cater to the diverse dietary needs of different bird species. Setting up feeders with seeds suited for smaller beaks and ensuring clean water is available in shallow birdbaths can create a welcoming environment for them. Additionally, the placement of these resources is key; they should be positioned in areas that offer protection from predators, including magpies, and allow for quick escapes if needed.

Incorporating natural garden features can also play a significant role in appealing to smaller birds. Planting thorny bushes and cultivating dense ivy provides shelter and nesting sites that are less accessible to larger birds like magpies. These natural barriers not only offer safety but also contribute to the ecological richness of your garden, supporting a variety of wildlife. By creating an environment that caters to the needs of smaller birds, you naturally alter the feeding dynamics, making your garden less attractive to magpies and more of a sanctuary for the delicate songbirds you wish to attract.

Legal Considerations and Ethical Trapping

When it comes to managing magpies in your garden, it’s crucial to stay on the right side of the law. These birds are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act of 1981, which means any action taken against them must be legal and humane. Before you consider any physical intervention, make sure you’re not crossing a line that could lead to hefty fines or legal trouble.

If you find that your DIY deterrents are falling short, especially when magpies have made themselves at home by nesting, it may be time to call in the professionals. Look for licensed individuals in your area who are permitted to trap and relocate magpies using methods like the Larsen trap, which is designed to capture birds without harm. This is not a DIY project; it requires knowledge of the birds’ behavior and legal compliance.

By enlisting the help of a licensed trapper, you can ensure that any necessary action is done ethically and within the bounds of the law, providing peace of mind that you’re not only protecting your garden but also respecting wildlife regulations.

DIY Deterrents and Home Solutions

For those with a penchant for crafting and a desire to keep magpies out of the garden, there’s good news: your home is a treasure trove of deterrents waiting to be assembled.

Reflective materials are the secret ingredient in this homemade concoction for avian discouragement. Take those old CDs that have been gathering dust since the digital music revolution and give them a second life as magpie repellents. String them up where they can spin freely, catching the sunlight and creating a light show that’s less than appealing to our feathered foes.

Similarly, aluminum foil can be cut into strips and hung amongst the branches, or even fashioned into spirals that will move with the breeze, casting reflections that disturb the magpies’ sense of security.

The beauty of these DIY solutions lies not only in their effectiveness but also in their simplicity and the satisfaction of repurposing everyday items into tools for peaceful coexistence with nature. By utilizing these shiny objects to create random patterns of light and movement, you can protect your garden’s ecosystem without resorting to harsh measures, all while tapping into your creative side.


As we’ve explored, discouraging magpies from our gardens is a dance of patience, persistence, and creativity. It’s about understanding the delicate balance of nature and working within it to maintain harmony in our outdoor spaces.

Reflective objects like CDs or half-filled plastic bottles, strategically placed, can serve as a visual shield, while the removal of water features and careful watering practices help to remove the allure of our gardens to these intelligent birds.

Attracting smaller birds through dense thickets and nesting boxes can shift the ecological balance in our favor.

As gardeners, we must remember that our actions can have a ripple effect on the local wildlife. So, let’s employ these gentle deterrents with consideration, ensuring that our gardens continue to thrive as a part of the broader ecosystem.

With these tools and a dash of ingenuity, we can coexist with magpies, appreciating their beauty from a distance while safeguarding our cherished green spaces.