Magpies attacking blackbird and nest

  • Had some magpie trouble this morning, and searching the Internet came across this great thread from 11 years ago.

    The various websites say that there's no scientific evidence magpies cause decline of other birds. Ok that's fair enough and I trust the science.

    However what I saw today from this particular magpie couple was completely over the top. Vicious attack on blackbird couple resulting in death of the adult male blackbird. Then turned onto crows twice their size and pecked them away. We haven't seen the crows since.

    Now they're bouncing from rooftop to rooftop looking for other birds to bully. The finches have all vanished, everyone is terrified including the neighbour's cat.

    So whilst the science might say we're too harsh on magpies, and habitat loss is to blame etc. I'm pretty sure the blackbirds, blue tits and goldfinches that are trying to live here would be much happier if this particularly vicious pair would leave our estate.
  • Strange on several counts. First of all, the magpies here are now nesting. I've regularly seen them as a pair for months. Not seen both together since March. Magpies rely on eggs and chicks as part of the food supply for young. To have a pair of magpies rioting in your garden rather than considering breeding is therefore out of the ordinary. Maybe they just lost their nest to crows?

    Secondly, magpies have lost to crows on every occasion I have ever witnessed. I witness it on an almost daily basis now. The foraging magpie here is constantly harrassed and chased by the crow and as I work and not spend my time at the window or outside constantly, to be seeing it pretty much every day does suggest it is going on constantly. It is widely documented that magpies are frequently and routinely losing out to crows. To have your magpie pair physically landing pecks sounds extraordinary and worthy of photographs.

    Thirdly, if a magpie killed a blackbird, it would attract crows if they were in the area and saw/heard what was going on. Blackbirds don't fight or die quietly. If you witnessed magpies and crows in conflict, it would have been crows trying to steal the dead bird.
  • That makes sense, thanks for bringing up an alternative perspective. We have a large conifer above the fence and both magpies and blackbirds go in and out of it constantly through various holes. I can’t tell if there are nests, or whose, but feel that a close inspection would not be a good idea so I’m not going to attempt.

    Initially the most likely reason for today’s deadly fight appeared to be that the magpies tried to steal the blackbird’s hypothetical nest eggs and the male died defending them. On balance however I’m starting to wonder whether it is the magpies that have a nest there rather than the blackbirds and are defending it rather forcefully.

    Reflecting on the reason why I rushed to assume it was the magpie’s fault, I suppose it is the assumption that if a blackbird has a nest and a magpie wants the eggs, the blackbird is outgunned in every sense and there’s nothing he can do. Or have I got the wrong end of the stick here?
  • I've tried to photograph the crow/magpie fights as you suggested, apologies for the mediocre results!
  • In reply to idic01:

    This is what happened too in my garden but got told about scientific evidence and this wouldn’t be occurring
  • In reply to Jakeg:

    Jake. You posted on 21st April. I can see that I was the only person to reply to you since. Please can you quote where I said either of those points you referred to as being told?
  • Thanks for posting the photos. As you said, looks like magpies are trying to nest build. That will attract crows that are in the same area. There is usually only one winner. Maybe the blackbird was unlucky or was injured/sick. They will be struggling as a species at the moment due to dry conditions. Worst possible April weather for blackbird and thrush breeding attempts.
  • In reply to Robbo:

    OMG I DIDNT say it was you or indicated it was you I have spoken to others there is more than this site

  • In reply to Jakeg:

    Ok thanks. Which site?