Magpies raiding a blackbirds nest

I remember talking to someone last year who had  seen two blackbirds  trying  stop two magpies stealing the blackbirds’ eggs.

The blackbirds failed.  The magpies  won.  The magpies took the blackbird eggs by raiding the nest

If this happens every year unseen by us then is it any wonder that blackbird numbers are falling.

Magpies have been raiding birds nests for years.  It is a well known fact they skim along hedges raiding nests.

Two ways to help keep birds and birds eggs safe  – 


  • Put up nest boxes  – Make sure the nest box does not have any perches.  The exterior of a nest box is a dangerous place for birds.  Perches on nest boxes encourage birds to rest outside the nest box and so make it easier for them to be seen by predators. 

    Novelty bird boxes may look nice, but the tried and tested bird boxes give a reliable nesting home to many birds.

Magpies are scavengers.

Here is a video of a magpie that came to my lawn

31 thoughts on “Magpies raiding a blackbirds nest

  1. Ian Flanagan


    I saw your article on magpies and thought I’d add my two pennorth. A few weeks ago my window cleaner said to me, “That egg was a bugger to shift from your window.” I was nonplussed. I started looking a bit closer at my windows and the garden and saw shell and yolks galore. I deduced that I was being targeted by somebody – not that I’m paranoid, but I could think of no other explanation. My neighbour’s house had been hit as well. After I’d called the police, and mentioned this to my neighbour, he told me it was magpies. They steal eggs, and try to carry them to their nests, dropping some on the way. I’m unfortunate to live on their flight path, damn them, and I’m sick of cleaning up their debris. Don’t know whether to get a stuffed eagle to mount on the roof or to adopt a more direct approach and get a twelve bore!

  2. Trish Post author

    Hi. Thanks for getting in touch. What a strange little story. Shells and yolks all over the garden!!

    You must have a lot of magpies! I see them around here, but never see any broken eggs in the garden. I know they steal eggs and can fly along a hedge dipping into nests as they fly. Stuffed Eagle or Twelve Bore – mmmm – decisions, decisions!

    But all those eggs show how much damage magpies do. How many young garden birds would have fledged if the eggs had not been stolen. How this must reduce the number of garden birds in your area. And as this goes on all over Britain it must be a factor in reduction of garden birds all over the country.

    I think it is unique that you have this happen to you in your garden.

    When I first read your letter thought it was partly a fun note, part joke. I couldn’t believe it. Thanks for sharing it with us. I may use it in the future when I see the RSPB talking about the decline in garden bird numbers. Trisha. Bird Table News

  3. Anthony Hall

    I want to build a nestbox for blackbirds but i have a lot of magpies in my garden and i have seen them taking eggs and CHICKS . \\whats the best design please?

  4. Debi Sanderson

    I can’t believe how many magpies there are now. I used to see the odd one now and again but we have lost count how many are around now. The last two years they have raided every nest in my garden I dont think the blackbirds got any of there chicks last year and this year looks like the same. I have one blackbird that has nested right next to my conservatory door and I have tried to keep an eye on the nest only to go out this morning and find the magpie raiding it. How do you stop this ?

  5. Trish Post author

    How do you stop Magpies? The question used to be simple. People knew when the Magpie population was causing a problem and Magpies could be culled.

    I agree they cause so much death and mayhem. They can skim through a hedge in minutes and take so many eggs. It is a pity we can’t film them doing this. I was walking in a park about a month ago and there were about 7-10 Magpies and no other bird in sight.

    We have to combine together. We have to know the law.

    This is what the RSBP say –

    RSPB – Legal control of Magpies

    You could join Songbird Survival. I belong to Songbird Survival. They do a lot of work and study into the drop in bird population.


    We cannot always blame farmers and farming for the declline in birds. I live on a farm and we have always had a lot of birds here. Even going back to before the RSPB was formed I should think that every farm had a lot of birdlife.

    So we can do certain things; Join Songbird Survival. Contact RSPB and tell them your story – ask them to put it on their website. Let as many people know that this is happening. Try and change the law?


  6. Kerry

    A magpie is trying its hardest to kill my last remaining baby blackbird…. Ive saved it once when the magpie dropped it but it’s so distressing to watch.

  7. Trish Post author

    Kerry, I’ve replied and put this on Bird Table News

    This goes on all the time, yet it never seems to be mentioned when there is talk about the decline in garden birds. Read the comment below –

    A magpie is trying its hardest to kill my last remaining baby blackbird…. Ive saved it once when the magpie dropped it but it’s so distressing to watch.

    Why not join Songbird Survival. They say –

    Rising levels of uncontrolled predation are ignored

    Existing research is out of date and flawed

    Something has to be done

  8. Stan Williams

    We have a large porch and on one wall two ceramic planters one very close to the front door. For the last 2 weeks a blackbird has built a nest on the planter nearest the door. She has faithfully sat on the two eggs in the nest for two weeks and has been totally at ease with our comings and goings. We came in late last night and she was there but this morning she and the eggs had gone. There is no sign of damage to the nest or any broken shells. As the nest is in and under the shelter of a porch we thought she would have been safe from predators how wrong we were and are so disappointed we will not see the young ones being fed and eventually fly the nest.
    Could Magpies follow her into the porch and steal her eggs?

  9. Trish Post author


    They are causing so much damage to our garden birds. They can skim along a hedgerow and take eggs so quickly


    Songbird Survival need all the help they can get and so do our garden birds.

    I bet you are disappointed. No young birds chattering away. Not being able to watch them as they fly the nest.

  10. valerie martin

    i have had magpies dive bombing a nest at the front of my house,they are drinking out of my dog s bowl and two of them were attacking a cat in my neighbours tree,they won t let the smaller birds eat the food i have hanging in the tree for them.they walk about my lawn when im in the garden they have no fear .

  11. Trish Post author

    Hi Valerie, Magpies can do so much harm. Why aren’t magpies spoken about when there is talk of a reduction in garden birds?



  12. michelle

    I protected a blackbirds nest and 4 eggs from my 2 dogs and i was excited when the chicks hatched the other day. As the nest was near my front door i could see the chicks clearly. The next day magpies raided and took 3 of the 4 chick. Lucily we saved 1 and return it to the nest on for the magpies to return and take the other 2. Im devastated that i protected them from my dogs Nd then stinking magpies kill them all.

  13. Trish Post author

    Hello Michelle,
    How kind of you to protect the blackbirds nest from your two dogs and I know how you feel when you say you were excited when they hatched. You were lucky to be able to see them from your front door

    Magpies!! Magpies can do so much damage in such a short time. I really don’t know why there isn’t more about this by the RSPB

    I belong to Songbird Survival –

    Why not take a look at their website and you’ll see that this sort of thing happens a lot.

    thank you for telling me about this. I hope you don’t blame yourself as there wasn’t anything you could have done about it


  14. Bob Bruce-Hay

    I have just found this after researching Magpies and thier habits regarding stealing eggs particularly Blackbirds by the look of things. I work for a sign company set in a rural part of east sussex, we were all delighted when a pair of Blackbirds nested in an outbuilding in view of the factory and we delighted in watching the diligent hen bird coming and going and sitting for hours on the nest, after about 16 days much excitement surrounded the nest with both birds coming and going and we guessed the chicks had hatched you can imagine our dismay when we came into work this Monday to the sight of a Magpie sitting on a beam near the nest and a very ditraught mother Blackbird attempting to return to her nest only to be thwarted by the aggressive Magpie, all the staff are gutted these birds are an absolute menace and I wasn’t aware of thier vicious canibalistic habits until I found this forum and enjoyed reading other peoples experiances with these hateful craetures.

  15. Lynne Forsyth

    I am devastated, damn magpies…I have watched the two blackbirds for weeks making their nest in a Mahonia bush, I was thinking magpies will get in there! Today, I opened the back dorr and found the poor blackbirds shrieking and flying back and forth, I ran down the garden but they had eaten at least one as the broken shell was on the grass with blood inside. I think they are too upset to get back in the bush due to the magpie swooping down again..I have been in the garden all evening scared to death in case other eggs are still there, I know I cannot do anything to help…the blackbirds are nowhere to be seen, I now hate magpies…so upsetting to see the poor things scared and upset that way.

  16. Trish Post author

    June 2009 is when I first wrote about magpies raiding nests and it is June 2013 now. How many more unseen ‘killing raids’ have magpies done.
    In a park in Manchester the only birds I see are magpies and I think a lot of people don’t realise that magpies do so much killing.

  17. Hazel

    After 3 years of having an empty nest box in our garden, we have a blue tit nesting. Then 3 days ago a chick was seen peeping out. Soon after, the chick left the box and hid behind some plants in the garden, but was not able to fly. Darkness fell and we had to leave the fledgling. It was nowhere to be found in the morning. Today another fledgling came from the nest but we thought it stood a better chance as it was earlier in the morning. My husband was on guard watching when a magpie swooped and tried to pick it up, but the magpie dropped it and flew off when my husband ran out and chased it away. The chick seemed to recover ok. But in the time it took my husband to unlock a door to let me into our house when I arrived back from shopping, the magpie had swooped down and picked up the chick. I saw it fly off with the chick in its beak and then it landed on a nearby rooftop where it began to rip the chick apart. All this happened in about 30 seconds and we are now afraid that this could have happened even more without us knowing as the adult blue tit seems to have left the nest. We are so so sad !!

  18. Julie Cook

    Just found this website after having a very upsetting time with those horrible birds! We have a pair of blackbirds that have lived with us for years, even getting quite tame but this is the third year they have been plagued by magpies. They have nested three times already this year, sadly losing the first two batches to magpies. The third time was very upsetting for us aswell as the birds. They were nesting in the front garden and had five healthy happy chicks but then came that horrible noise and we were out there like a shot! The magpie was already eating a baby on the floor and the parents were going mad. It went back to the nest and you could hear the babies squealing. We tried our best to get the magpie away but it was always an inch or so out of reach in the bushes. At one time there was me, my husband and 2 neighbours trying to make it go, it was as bold as brass and wasnt going anywhere. What happpened next I have never seen before and hope never to again. The male blackird picked up a dead bloody baby out of the nest and dropped it in the neighbours garden, I can only think he was trying to distract the mapie away from the nest, it didnt work. Astonishingly he then took the 3 remaining babies (still alive) and one by one flew off with them. By this time we had scared the magpie away and were left with an empty nest and a distraugt female bird. We thought this would be the end of it, but a couple of hours later we saw the female taking food into the nest and was surprised to see one baby bird and later that evening another had returned. Sadly we never saw the third one. The nest was definately empty after the attack, we all saw the male carry the babies away and can only assume that he then put them back. The two remaing babies left our garden a couple of weeks ago and I hope are doing well. There are three mapgpies that rule the roost here and they have killed so many babies in my garden and surrounding gardens, yes I am an animal lover but could quite happily wring their necks! They are very handsome birds and comical to watch but as soon as I hear that horrible clacking noise and the garden birds start squawking I am in the garden hoping to keep my birds safe. I know its ‘nature’ and only the strongest will survive, and I keep telling myself that the parents dont feel sorrow the way we do, but it is so distressing when you watch them try and try again to raise young. We also have a red kite and a sparrow hawk that visit and a few cats that try their luck. I can remember being shocked to hear (I think it was on Springwatch) that 84% of babies dont survive, is it any wonder? On a lighter note 🙂 we have many happy birds in our garden and hope to continue enjoying them.

    Kind regards, Julie

  19. Ian Keene

    We had a wrens nest in the hedge opposite our front door.
    Both parent birds worked diligently for weeks feeding their chicks which were squeaking loudly this seemed to attract many Magpies which at the time we didn’t realise that up to about a gang of about six magpies were casing the scene and waiting for the chicks to fatten up,it was like a scene from the Hichcocks film the Birds.Then early one morning there was a loud screeching noise and they attacked the nest ripped it apart and ate all the chicks.We often here them in surrounding gardens attacking other nests they definitely need culling around this area to adjust the natural balance to protect the smaller bird species.

  20. Trish Post author

    You are right – it is like something from a Hitchcock story. Birds waiting for other birds to fatten up. Birds ripping a nest apart and eating all the chicks! It seems just like a lion tracking it’s prey and then all of a sudden pouncing, but this is Bird Eating Bird

    I’m sorry this happened in your garden. And it’s a serious issue. Have you seen the website Songbird Survival – here is the link

  21. Norma Farmer

    I am new in the UK and have been watching a black bird sit on her nest and her mate feeding her. Two days ago I saw a Magpie swoop the nest, and did not realise what had happened, only to notice the nest is now empty, no eggs or shells. My only conclusion is that the Magpie got the eggs. This is a shame that it cannot be stopped.

  22. Rose

    A gang of very aggressive Magpies have just moved into our area. I heard a lot of noise and looked out to see a collared dove being carried through the sky by one of them. It was awful to see and now this morning I heard another loud squabble only to see them laying into one of their own! I opened the window and they all flew away. I just hope they don’t hang round here too long as they wouldn’t look out of place in Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds!

  23. Trish Post author

    Apologies for not replying before. Isn’t it frustrating when we can’t do anything about the carnage that we see in our gardens.
    I have put your comment on Bird Table News. I hope the Magpies have gone.f

  24. Pingback: MAGPIES KILLING A COLLARED DOVE | Bird Table News

  25. Wendy

    A few days ago I was thrilled to find a blackbird had nested on top of a nest box in my garden. I thought it had chosen a great spot, hidden by jasmine & out of harms way. I was enjoying watching the comings & goings of both male & female bird, however this morning I discovered the nest only contained shell from a broken egg remaining in the nest. I have never seen magpies in my garden so any ideas as to what may have happened?

  26. Milly jones

    Read all the stories of birds eggs and chicks getting pinched by magpies,but nobody’s come up with a solution how to stop them,or scare them off

  27. Sally

    Last year I watched in awe as bluetits made their next in my nesting box and raised their chicks to the point that small heads were looking out of the box and about to fledge. I went away briefly only to find them all disappeared when I got back and th call of magpies in the air. This year I moved the box to a safer place. Again they nested, but soon after I found the box on the ground. Inside was a feathered nest. I put it back up extremely securely and the birds returned. Soon after I found the roof had been taken off. I got a chair and looked inside and there were about 4 eggs. I’m not sure whether I saw the female go in again, but it’s just occurred to me that I’ve a feeling the magpies got in and took her. It makes me frantic with sorrow. They work so hard and these thugs are everywhere. I have no cats around or any other predator it’s just the magpies and I feel like shooting the lot!

  28. quayle

    I’ve had a fledged blackbird sheltering in my gardens for weeks. It has been fed by its parents. Today a magpie took the bird. At what age are they free from attack? This fledgling was 2-3 weeks in my garden almost adult and then picked off. Ive spent weeks keeping an eye out for it and dismayed to loose it now. Sadly theres a 2nd brood under threat.

  29. p mo

    Surely some clever person could design a hedge frame to position within a hedge and also a wire ball etc to place around a nest with the spacings too small to allow a magpie access to get in or to reach in? I’d be happy to grow a new piece of hedge just to position a suitable safe enclosure or two and allow new plants to cover it over.. Maybe with a secure lockable exit ‘gate’ incase of a skinny predator getting in? I now hate hate hate the magpies!

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