Magpies will kill other birds

If magpies appear in the garden, conflicts are inevitable. The black and white corvids are traditionally considered pests and nest robbers. If you, as a gardener concerned, are looking for effective methods to drive away the notorious songbird killers, you can come into conflict with the law on your part. Magpies have been subject to the Federal Nature Conservation Act for many years. That doesn't mean you have to surrender your green realm to the feathered terrorists inactive. These instructions explain how you can legally and permanently keep magpies away from your garden.

Confusing legal situation - what is allowed and what is not?

Since the EU Birds Directive came into force in 1979, all European bird species have been subject to this protection, including the magpie. In 1994, however, this EU directive was expanded to include Annex II / B, which lists various species that may be hunted in Germany outside of the breeding season. This listing includes magpies and other corvids. Until 2006, however, the federal legislature refrained from including magpies in Section 2 of the Federal Hunting Act as a huntable species.

As a result of the change in the hunting season regulation at state level, the Elster is now considered a huntable species in North Rhine-Westphalia and other federal states, which tens of thousands of birds pay with their lives every year. Notwithstanding the vehement pleading of the Nature Conservation Union (NABU), the black and white birds have been listed as a huntable species since the amendment to the State Hunting Act in 2014, with a closed season from March 1st to July 31st.

For private individuals without a hunting license, on the other hand, the Federal Nature Conservation Act (BNatschG) applies, according to which magpies are protected wild animals. Accordingly, corvids of all species may not be disturbed, driven away, hunted and certainly not killed, regardless of the season. Furthermore, it is strictly forbidden to destroy the nests, damage the eggs or kill young birds.

If your garden is haunted by magpies, you could theoretically commission the responsible hunter to shoot them down. Since the right to hunt is suspended in densely populated areas, the assignment of birds to huntable animals is nowhere near. If magpies are undesirable on your property, other solutions are required that do not run counter to the Federal Hunting Act, the State Hunting Act, the Federal Nature Conservation Act and the EU Bird Protection Directive.

Preventing conflicts instead of chasing away magpies - this is how it works

The Federal Nature Conservation Act prohibits the expulsion of magpies in any form. However, this regulation does not require that you make your garden inviting and cozy for the terrorists in plumage. By taking the following precautions, your green kingdom will become so unattractive to the black and white corvids that it will not conflict in the first place:
  • Do not leave any leftover food lying around
  • Cover the compost with tarpaulins as a possible source of food
  • Do not dispose of kitchen waste in bags and place it outdoors
  • Replace or repair damaged garbage cans promptly
Eliminate small songbirds from access to magpies by creating protected hideaways. A thorn-reinforced, evergreen hedge is perfect for tits, finches or blackbirds to build their nests in. You should also hang up nesting boxes whose entry holes are too small for the corvids.

Natural enemies effectively repel magpies - help from the animal kingdom

Magpies will avoid a garden if their natural opponents are here. First and foremost, the corvids fear dogs and cats as well as larger birds of prey. If you get your own dog or cat, the problem of annoying magpies in the garden will soon be a thing of the past. Alternatively, you can simulate the presence of four-legged friends by recording dog barking or cat hissing and playing them back repeatedly in the garden.

But do not underestimate the intelligence of the corvids. If a dog doesn't actually show up every now and then, your strategy is quickly revealed. You should therefore invite friends and dog and cat owners so that the animals can run through the garden. If you also spread tufts of cat or dog hair over the area and make the appropriate noises, you can outsmart the clever birds.

Among the birds of prey, the carrion crow and the hawk are among the most important predators of magpies. With a combination of replicas and calls of these feathered enemies, you can also effectively repel magpies. You should therefore place real-looking animal figures in the garden and let the screams of these birds sound again and again. Again, you should include the intelligence of magpies in the strategy. You can only count on a successful defense when your garden is laid out in such a way that such a bird of prey could come down at any time. You should therefore regularly clear out your trees to create the impression of free flight paths.

Protecting Seedbeds From Gluttonous Magpies - How To Do It Right

Devastated seed beds are a particular nuisance when a garden belongs to magpies' territory. The birds not only target the seeds, but also devour the seedlings and sprouting young plants with enthusiasm. This is how you protect a freshly planted bed from defoliation:
  • After sowing, cover the bed with a close-meshed net
  • Insert small wooden sticks or special net holders into the ground at a distance of 40 to 50 cm
  • Use the brackets to pull a bird protection net with a mesh width of 2-3 cm over the bed and fix it in place
Alternatively, you can cover the bed to be protected. To do this, pull thin nylon or cotton cords criss-cross across the surface between the wooden sticks. This method has the advantage that you can keep a greater distance from the ground than with a net. As a result, young plants are not hindered in their growth.

Tip: Magpies are wrongly viewed as pests. Rather, spiders, insects, mice, carrion and waste are at the top of the birds' menu, which qualifies them as important beneficial insects for ecological balance.

Habitat protection makes displacement irrelevant

The increased occurrence of magpies in residential areas, gardens and parks is mistakenly interpreted as an explosive increase. In fact, the corvids were forced to leave their original habitats. After the Second World War, the systematic destruction of their previous home began. Extensive agriculture, the destruction of natural hedges, excessive use of pesticides and intensive persecution in the fields left the desperate birds no choice but to settle in close proximity to humans. Valuable sources of food are available here all year round, such as compost heaps, filled garbage cans, leftover feed at ponds or run over animals on the streets. The perception of magpies as a plague is not due to an increase in numbers, but to a population shift.

Only the restoration of the natural framework conditions can a permanent withdrawal of the magpies from the residential areas and gardens result. The black and white character birds regain their habitat with the following measures:
  • Dispensing with pesticides in favor of ecological plant protection methods
  • Targeted creation of strips of wood and hedges as places of retreat
  • Leave the margins of water and fields
  • Cultivation of crops in mixed culture instead of monoculture
Making your garden unattractive for magpies according to these instructions is only one side of the coin. By helping to restore the original habitat, discussions about chasing magpies out of private gardens will soon be a thing of the past. The options range from participating in the annual summer or winter census 'The Hours of the Garden Birds' to volunteering in nature conservation associations.

Tip: Long-term scientific observations have shown that magpies and other corvids could never endanger the population of songbirds. In fact, tits, finches and blackbirds have been shown to have the highest population densities in the vicinity of magpies. Humans are really responsible for the extinction of species.


Although magpies are subject to hunting law and more than 30,000 of these birds are shot every year in North Rhine-Westphalia alone, the birds in the garden are under protection. The Federal Nature Conservation Act prohibits chasing magpies away, destroying their nests or even disturbing the birds during breeding and moulting. Targeted countermeasures to prevent conflicts do not run counter to the regulations. Avoid possible sources of food, protect your seedbeds and prevent small songbirds from accessing them, make your garden unattractive for magpies. The pests get really uncomfortable when dogs and cats are on the property. On top of that, simulate the presence of carrion crows and hawks, and keep magpies away from your garden with this package of measures.