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How to attract Magpies

Most people can identify the magpie – but if you can’t it is the black and white bird that is part of the crow family. Older people often wave them away accompanied by the “one for sorrow, two for joy....” rhyme. Some people dislike them because they can scare away other, smaller birds, and they eat other birds’ eggs as well. Others find them beautiful and fascinating. Whether you want to attract them in order to shoot them – as some people do – or to enjoy watching them, here are some methods how.

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  1. Take an empty plastic pill bottle and put something small and hard into it like a pebble or your last pill. Replace the lid and you have a home-made magpie caller. An alternative way of making a caller is to get a box of large matches and remove half or more of the matchsticks. To use either of these callers shake them backwards and forwards four or five times fairly quickly, then stop for a second and repeat.

  2. Buy a magpie, or multiple bird, caller from the shops or online. You can use this in the garden to attract different species. You can also get a recording of a magpie call online which you can download and use on a stereo to attract them.

  3. Start leaving food out for the birds, including kitchen scraps, nuts, seeds and bird food from pet shops. Magpies are both scavengers and predators, so will eat almost anything. If they are nearby they will soon be over to check out what’s on offer.

  4. Put up shiny objects in your garden. Magpies are famously inquisitive of all things shiny, so a few ornaments made of old mirrors, CDs, foil or any shiny metal should have them poking their beaks in to see what’s going on. Suspend the shiny bits and pieces from pieces of string so they move around and reflect even more.

  5. Warning

    If you have other birds nesting nearby the magpies may target their eggs for food.

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Things You'll Need

  • Empty plastic pill container
  • Pebble
  • Box of large matches
  • Food scraps
  • Seeds
  • Shiny things like old CDs, bits of mirror, foil


About the Author

Robert Macintosh is a full-time journalist based in Northern Ireland. He has accumulated eight years’ experience since 2005, writing for magazines, newspapers and websites in various countries. Macintosh has specialised in politics and entertainment. He has an honours degree in social anthropology, an NVQ level 4 in newspaper journalism and an AS Level in photography.

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