OpinioN8

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Has anyone else noticed the surge in the Magpie population in Crouch End? The cacophony they produce from 3.30am is unbearable and they've taken to perching on my bedroom window sill which makes it worse.It continues throughout the day. Anyone else suffering? I understand they are vermin and can be culled. Anyone know anyone who'd do it?

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It's not just Crouch End, Magpies seem to thrive in modern conditions. My mother's house in the country is surrounded by them. Maybe it's due to the way we dispose of rubbish nowadays - the same sort of thing that has empowered urban foxes? 

There seems to be some disagreement about whether the increase in magpies (and crows and jackdaws) is a cause of the decrease in songbirds. The 3:30 a.m. dawn chorus used to be blackbirds and other songbirds. For a time it was not, but is beginning to be again, at least down this street.

On the side of the culler is Songbird Survival who are totally convinced that magpies kill songbirds. On the side of the magpies are the RSPB and BTO as set out on this Springwatch page.  There was atrial cull but I don't know the result.

But if you are just fed up with the noise, buy an airgun, or get one of these traps. I think the bait is a live magpie.

We are long term observers of the bird populations over the years, and recently we started actively culling magpies.  There is incontrovertible national evidence that the corvid population (magpies, crows, jackdaws etc) has increased tremendously whilst songbird populations have decreased, some by 90% in a generation see http://www.songbird-survival.org.uk.  Magpies/crows are carnivores and their favourite food in spring is baby songbirds, of that there is no doubt.  Every time I hear magpies cackle I know any live chicks nearby are in danger.  Whilst the RSPB has to live up to its name and protect birds in general, so can't actively encourage culling of corvids, research studies clearly show that the only way to 'save songbirds' is to control their predators.  No studies have been done in cities, but we know for 25 years' experience living in Fairfield Road that songbird numbers have crashed and corvid numbers soared - in the cities the sound of songbirds now is rare and cackles and caws common.   4 years ago I was so upset by the daily dawn raids by magpies of the blackbird's nest in our tree that we vowed to act.  3 years ago we started to control corvids from our garden, using a Larsen trap, which we now do each spring (mid March - June). There are SO many magpies around that we deal with about 25 each year. We also make use of our airgun when appropriate (ie within our own land boundary) if the Larsen trap isn't operating. The difference locally is tremendous. Now we hear songbirds all day long in the street and the garden, and they wake us up with their lovely dawn chorus, with only the occasional visiting magpie. We've seen an increase in both number and variety of songbirds, which is fantastic.   I'm very happy to provide advice on running a Larsen trap - see page 14 of the Songbird Survival newsletter for my article  http://www.songbird-survival.org.uk/cms-assets/documents/113365-562....  If you have a lot of local magpies it may still be worth operating it this year if there are any local songbird chicks left to save.  Other things you can do next spring to control corvids and give your local songbirds a chance are to 1) have a bird feeder in the garden (squirrel and pigeon proof!) and/or 2) put up a bird box to give songbirds somewhere safe to nest., although that's only any use for birds who nest in crevices.

PS the RSPB admits they cull corvids in their own bird reserves, so even they concede that magpies kill songbirds and need to be controlled if their population is disproportionate.

Ok so I'll buy a Larsen trap. How do you catch the first live bait? And how do you despatch the caught? Could you email me? crouchhall@netscape.net Many thanks

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