I don’t mind the magpie; I quite enjoy spotting them when about and about. I am not so fond of them in my garden, especially during the breeding season. It is the time of year when they are at their hungriest and aware that there are unattended eggs and nestlings in the locality.
I wondered what magpies eat and if any foods might encourage them to keep away from other bird’s nests.
It would be much quicker to write what don’t magpies eat, as they will try just about anything!
They are omnivorous birds; their diet consists of meat and plants.
In summer, they eat more invertebrates, and in winter, they eat more plant life, grains, and berries.
They are quite happy to supplement their diet with things found on a bird table and happily plunder other species’ nests for eggs and young.
Table of Contents
What magpies eat in autumn and winter
Magpies have very acute senses to help them hunt food; when temperatures drop, they rely on each other. They gather in constantly communicating flocks to increase their chances of finding food.
In winter, their diet becomes more plant-based and features lots of wild fruits, berries, and grains. They are always on the lookout for carrion ( the decaying flesh of dead animals) and feast on small rodents, frogs, and slugs.
What magpies eat in spring and summer
As I’ve already mentioned, the magpie loves nothing more than a juicy hatchling and is always on the lookout for a nest to raid. If there are no babies yet, they will peck a hole in the eggs and suck out the contents. The one redeeming feature is that magpies are loud and screechy, so often give the game away when they’re on the prowl.
Much like the jay, the magpie enjoys acorns. They eat them from the tree or those that have fallen to the ground.
They enjoy a wide range of invertebrates and bugs including, beetles, flies, worms, spiders, and caterpillars. Leatherjackets are another favourite – the larvae stage of the crane fly. In fact, magpies eat all manner of larvae.
What magpies eat from the garden
They aren’t particularly agile birds; hanging feeders are often safe. However, they will eat any scraps from the table, including cake crumbs, bits of cheese, slices of fruit, seeds, and suet.
They are especially fond of berries, especially blueberries, which I found out to my annoyance last season!
Magpies feast on fruit beds of strawberries and raspberries, although they will try any fruit humans eat.
Do magpies eat ants?
You may have seen a magpie pecking away at the edge of a lawn and wondered what he was up to.
While it is probable that he’s pecking around searching for ants and their nests just below the surface, he might also be building a cache.
Magpies sometimes hoard any surplus food, burying it to recover later when supplies aren’t nearly so abundant.
They use their strong beaks to make a small hole in the soil and place their food inside. They cover it with grass, a stone, or a leaf, to keep it protected and serve as a reminder.
These little caches are usually within close range of their territory.
What do magpies eat leads us to one obvious conclusion – virtually anything!
They aren’t fussy eaters at all and make the most of what is most abundant and readily available at every opportunity.