Birds

Crows and magpies are a common nuisance in Strathcona County, each requiring a different approach to management.

Crows

Image of a crow

Crows are easily identified by their black feathers, black eyes and caw-caw sound.

Behaviour

Crows are intelligent, adaptive, wary, eat anything and are hard to catch.

  • Crows like to nest in tall trees and there is an abundance of tall trees in the County that make good nesting sites.
  • Crows eat whatever is available, regardless of whether it is dead or alive, including insects, garbage and dead animals.
  • Any animal or human that gets too close to the young birds can be subject to "dive-bombing" by the parents, who can be very aggressive.
  • Crows are a migratory bird that spend the winter in warmer climates.

Management

Controlling crows is difficult. They are not easily trapped like magpies. 

  • You can try knocking the nest out of the tree if you can reach it.
  • You can shoot crows outside the Special Control Area, Urban Service Area and the Hamlet Policy Area. Please refer to the Firearm Control Bylaw.

Magpies

Image of a magpie sitting on a fence post

The black-billed magpie is a colourful bird with a black head, chest and tail. Its belly and shoulders are white; patches of white are also visible on its wings when in flight.

Behaviour

Magpies are intelligent, resourceful and bold birds. If harassed, they become wary of their intruders.

  • Magpies nest in trees, shrubs, willows and even utility poles. They prefer more open areas with islands of trees, such as windrows, which are present on many farms. They also like living along creeks, meadows and near human residences.
  • Their diet consists of grain, corn, carrion, ground-dwelling invertebrates and small mammals. Magpies will also pick through human garbage and pet food.
  • Magpies are all-year residents. During winter, they tend to colonize with other groups of magpies.

Management

Although part of the ecosystem, magpies do conflict with humans. A number of measures can be taken to minimize this:

  • Keep pet food where it cannot be eaten by magpies and garbage stored properly to prevent scavenging.
  • Keep trees and shrubs in your yard well-groomed, so magpies will not roost in them. Scarecrows can be used, but magpies can become familiar with them unless they are moved around.
  • If magpies are already in an area, frightening devices such as bird bangers and alarms can be used.
  • If the location of a nest is known, you could remove it; chances are the bird will move on.
  • Shooting the birds is also a possible control method, but only outside the Special Control Area, Urban Service Area and Hamlet Policy Area.
  • Trapping is another option; wire mesh traps can be purchased or built and then baited with pet food for live capture of the birds.

Further information:

County Connect

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Last updated: Thursday, June 13, 2019
Page ID: 50138