Magpies are dangerous

It is easy to speak of a magpie plague when several of the black and white birds appear in a garden. Their bad reputation persists and so they are viewed as pests that urgently need to be driven away or even killed. This is by no means necessary or even sensible in every case. In addition, many methods are not allowed.


Magpies are often viewed as a nuisance because they occur in larger groups. In fact, the total number of corvids is rather small. If there is a group of magpies in your own garden, you do not have to assume that there is a plague. Often times, the birds will move on anyway when the conditions change. So it is not automatically necessary to hunt, poison and kill them.

Beneficial or pest?

Magpies have a bad reputation that stubbornly clings to them and, unfortunately, often runs ahead. They are seen as pests that kill or at least drive away songbirds, rob their nests and also cause damage to plants. As scavengers and insect eaters, magpies are quite useful and it is worth knowing their habits:

Magpies can eat smaller songbirds and their eggs, but they mainly feed on insects, spiders, carrion and waste. So they are quite useful in the garden, important for the ecological balance and do not cause any damage to plants.

Bird enemies
Magpies are often associated with driving away or even killing songbirds and robbing their nests. Although these cases can occur, they are much less common than often claimed. In addition, the songbird populations can easily recover from the encroachments of the magpies. On the other hand, the disappearance of songbirds and the prompt appearance of magpies are in most cases due to human intervention and changes in the environment - and not to the corvids.

Compost heaps, open or damaged garbage cans and insect-rich gardens represent a buffet for the magpies. They do not bother with seeds and plants and therefore do not cause any damage in the garden. On the contrary, they help keep insects at bay and remove carrion and waste.


Anyone who knows the way of life of magpies can easily prevent their appearance in the garden. The following measures are suitable for this:

Garbage and compost
An open compost heap or a broken garbage can can attract magpies. If such food sources are covered, the garden immediately becomes less attractive for the corvids and a "magpie plague" does not have to be expected. Closed composters and intact garbage cans are simple but effective preventive measures.

Cats, dogs and birds of prey keep magpies away. If you don't own cats or dogs yourself, you can use a few tricks here. Animal hair, recorded animal noises and figures create an initial deterrent effect. However, the parents' intelligence should not be underestimated. If they notice after a while that the little ones are never in the garden, they see through the artificial defense maneuvers. So it would be ideal if cats and dogs occasionally roam the garden.

Clear sky and light trees
The figures of birds of prey can be a deterrent at first, but they must also be seen in the garden or at least find optimal conditions for hunting. This includes not offering the magpies any hiding places. Regular cut, light trees and an overall free, open garden design are ideal for this.

Nest boxes
To protect songbirds and their nests, appropriate nesting boxes can be hung in the garden. The entrances to these boxes should be sized so that the songbirds can get in without problems, but the magpies cannot pass through. This gives the different bird species the opportunity to live together in one garden.

To hunt

If there is an alleged plague of magpies, hunting the birds is an obvious choice. However, hunting is only permitted under certain conditions and at certain times. In addition, the legal guidelines can differ from state to state. It is therefore necessary in any case to contact a local hunter. On the one hand, he can provide information about the legal basis and, on the other hand, intervene to regulate if necessary. As an alternative source of information, there are also nature and animal welfare associations that can provide information and recommend helpful measures if necessary.
Private individuals, on the other hand, are prohibited from shooting the birds or using any other means to hunt them.


In order to nip the magpie plague in the bud, poison seems to offer itself. The corvids are "caught" directly while eating and the number of alleged pests is reduced. Poisoning is forbidden, as is hunting the birds. There are also some dangers associated with this measure. The greatest danger is that the poisoning is not controllable. Whether a magpie ingests the poisoned food, a dog, a cat or maybe even a child cannot be controlled. Even if the poison is displayed in higher areas, other birds or squirrels could be accidentally killed.

Destroy nests

This measure seems the easiest. Anyone who destroys a found magpies nest and simply digs it up takes very little effort. The animals do not need to be hunted or poisoned with a potential danger to other living beings. As with the methods already mentioned, however, digging or destroying nests is prohibited. The birds, their offspring and their nests must remain undamaged and undisturbed. Deliberately keeping the magpies away from their nests can also be punished.


Whether through hunting, trapping or poisoning, the killing of magpies is prohibited to private individuals. Under certain conditions, the population can be reduced, but for legal security and protection of animals and the environment, professional action should be taken. Again, the local hunter should either be involved or asked about a nature conservation association. They are familiar with the regional guidelines and the laws of the federal state and can therefore proceed in an informed manner.

Basically, however, the aim should not be to eliminate the magpies, to counter them with poison or to ward them off in any other way. If you don't want the birds in your own garden, you can prevent them accordingly or make your own greenery less attractive as a result of a supposed magpie plague. It should be clear, however, that the corvids are neither dangerous nor harmful in themselves, as mentioned, but rather serve a very useful purpose. Anyone who meets them in their own garden has no disadvantage from their appearance.

Legal guidelines

The magpies can be shot depending on the state and season. However, a gun license is not sufficient for this. Anyone who disregards these laws must expect severe penalties. We therefore urgently recommend that you do not use poison or weapons against the birds, but rather seek coordinated professional advice and involve a hunter or nature conservation association. This is the only way to ensure that the procedure is legally secure. This is important for several reasons. On the one hand, because this ensures your own legal protection. On the other hand, because it also prevents damage to nature.

It is possible to interpret the relevant legal texts yourself. However, these are very complex and sometimes appear contradictory. Therefore, it is sometimes difficult even for lawyers to find a clear interpretation. In addition, the laws are different in each federal state. It is therefore hardly possible for laypeople to make an informed decision and to act in a legally secure manner.