(several) questions about a magpie nest in my garden

Hello, I'm a new RSPB member and a relatively new birdwatcher. My interest was sparked by the impressive array of birds that I'm able to attract to the feeders in my small suburban garden in Cambridge. I was wondering if anyone could help me with a few questions as I still don't know that much about birds beyond what I read in my beginners guide.

Basically, in the last few weeks a pair of magpies has set up a nest in a large tree that sits right over my garden. In one sense, this is great news, as I can see it from my bedroom window and I'm looking forward to watching these beautiful birds come and go.

However, at exactly the same time the number and variety of songbirds visiting my feeders has dropped off dramatically. So I guess my questions are:

(1) Is this dropoff likely to be due to the magpies? They certainly seem quite territorial, and scare off the wood pigeons and collared doves that come to my bird table. However, I've never seen them take any notice of songbirds, and sparrows still come to my fatball feeder. But the long-tailed tits no longer do, and I hardly ever see the chaffinches, greenfinches and great tits that regularly frequented my seed and nut feeders. Are they scared off too, or are they just not around now due to being busy preparing to breed and/or because of an upturn in wild food?

(2) How long will the magpies use this nest? Do they raise multiple clutches in one spring/summer? Do they abandon their nests in the autumn or will they return year after year?

(3) Obviously, I'm not going to touch the nest this summer, but if the magpies are scaring off other birds, would users on this forum recommend / not recommend removing the nest in the autumn?

Thanks so much for any help answering my queries. It is much appreciated.

  • In reply to doggie:

    Hi lancelot, as Doggie says if you remove nest they will only rebuild, and dont forget at this time of year all the songbirds are moving into their own territories, so may well be in someone elses garden, they are not usualy frighten of magpies, and are only warey of them when they have young, and will attack the magpies relentlesly. Alan

    always many sides to an argument

  • In reply to robin red:

    Hi Lancelot,afraid that if you have small birds nesting in your garden you may find that the Magpies are vicious attackers of nests,eggs and young birds and you might find it a bad experience.

  • In reply to Sooty:

    Spoken like a farmer ? Alan

    always many sides to an argument

  • In reply to Sooty:

    Hi Sooty, although I did put two nest boxes up as an experiment, neither have been taken up. I suspect that I live in too urban an area for them to really appeal. So no, I'm not worried about the magpies attacking nests, merely scaring off visitors to my feeders. From other comments already left, it sounds like I probably don't need to worry - I suspect the songbirds I'm used to seeing are just off building nests and collecting food in less urban areas outside of Cambridge.

  • In reply to Sooty:

    Here we go . . .

  • In reply to Sunrider:

    I've got a pair of magpies in the garden (also near Cambridge) and I've seen them bossing around some of the smaller birds but I have robins, blackbirds, tits, starlings, wood pigeons and spotted woodpeckers and they all use the feeders without seeming to be bothered by each other. Also have a sparrow hawk that comes around though, and that's a different story.

  • In reply to doggie:

    Hi Alan

    Yes, I agree. I really hate to see the little birds get grabbed but all the birds are very beautiful to see so I feel very grateful to have plenty of wildlife in the garden. Thank you for the welcome :-)

  • Magpies will take eggs and young nestlings of small birds.
    If you decide to cut the branch where the dome is built ( out of season) observe other branches that would provide a good "anchor". The clever architects have evolved a good eye for structural design.