Two species of magpie were introduced to New Zealand from Australia in the 1860s to control insect pests - the white-backed (Gymnorhina tibicen hypoleuca) and the black-backed (Gymnorhina tibicen tibicen).
Magpies are social birds and tend to congregate in flocks.
Magpies are extremely territorial birds and will drive other animals away particularly during nesting periods from July to March. These attacks may result in injury to other birds and even people. Magpies also eat the eggs of other birds.
Suitable traps for catching magpies include:
- the Larsen trap
- the ArcaneTM Magpie Trip-traps
- letterbox traps
- adapted possum cage traps
Larsen-type traps operate using a live magpie 'call' bird while the others use bait such as dripping.
Traps should be placed where magpies are normally seen feeding or gathering. Areas with pets or livestock around should be avoided. As the birds are caught live the traps require servicing at least once a day, preferably after dark.
To kill a captured magpie wear gardening gloves and, grasping the bird over its back, remove it from the trap. Strike the head against the edge of the trap or a fence post. This needs to be done swiftly and forcefully to be effective and humane.
'Call' birds can be caught using bait and a mirror or tin foil as lures and can be kept healthy on a daily supply of fresh water and dog roll.
Magpies are highly intelligent and random shooting is unlikely to control a population as surviving birds will become wary and difficult to eliminate. Using a tape recording of a magpie distress call and magpie decoys will attract birds to an area where they can be shot. Ensure a safe firing zone. A .22 bullet can travel up to 3km.
Large populations of magpies can be quickly controlled by using the narcotic Alphachloralose.
Who Can Help?
Pest Management Services
Ph 03 348 9293
Fax 03 348 9291
Ph 07 573 4157
Leyden Larsen Traps
Ph 07 872 7761