Magpies are more recognisable garden visitors, easily identified by their bold black and white plumage with shining blue wingtips.
I see them regularly, each time courteously doffing my imaginary cap and wishing them good morning.
I am always fascinated to find out where any birds go when they’re not around my garden, particularly in the breeding season.
‘Where do Magpies Nest’ will shed some light if your interest is also piqued.
Magpies are native across most of Britain, the Scottish Highlands being the only exception. They aren’t too fussy about where they live and are often seen in rural, suburban, and urban settings.
Where possible, a breeding pair construct their domed nest high in thorny trees or bushes, but if all else fails, they happily use tall structures such as pylons to build their home.
Their nests are impressive affairs with many layers and a protective roof.
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Where do magpies nest in the wild?
The magpie is an adaptable bird that successfully inhabits farmland, towns, moorland, gardens, parks, and woodland edges.
They prefer tall, thorny trees to construct their nests and build them very high up. Here they feel safest from predators that want to stage a coup to steal their territory.
Magpies choose nesting sites with plenty of nearby vegetation. They use leaves and branches as building materials and feed on the abundant food source.
Do magpies build secure nests?
It’s fair to say that magpies are the royalty of nest building; each structure takes the mated pair up to 40 days to complete.
All bird species have different techniques to make their nest secure; the magpie combines all methods to create the most impressive structure.
How magpies build their nests
The female carries out most of the nest-building activity in many bird species. Not so with magpies; both male and female do their fair share.
- They begin by collect clumps of mud that they mould together to form a base.
- Next, they place twigs around the circumference of the mud cake.
- They gather thin, malleable sticks and weave them around the twig frame; much as a basket maker does.
- The next stage is all about comfort; they make a neat inner cup to keep their eggs safe and insulated. Magpies use many materials for this process including, straw, wool, feathers, roots, hair, and plant fibres.
- Finally, they are one of only a handful of birds that build a roof over their nest. They use the same basket-weaving style, ensuring they leave one, sometimes two entrances.
- The construction comes to an end when the birds cover their awesome home with branches and leaves to protect the dome.
Everything is in place for the female to lay 7-8 greenish-blue eggs.
Do magpies use bird boxes?
Magpies have an affinity with bird boxes; but not for nesting purposes.
Magpies build their nests high in trees to keep predators at bay. It is sneaky behaviour when you consider they are one of the worst predators around, yet something you might expect from the very intelligent species.
Available nesting sites for magpies are limited; the reason that between 25% and 65% don’t breed each season. These birds gather in huge flocks covering great areas of open wood or moorland.