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Updated 9 August 2019 1:09pm

Gymnorhina tibicen tibicen, G. tibicen hypoleuca
Crown copyright, DOC

Why are magpies a problem?

During the breeding season magpies can become very aggressive and attempt to drive off animals and humans. Small children in particular can be subject to intimidating and hazardous attacks. Magpies are also known to harass, attack and kill a wide variety of native and exotic birds. There is anecdotal evidence that magpies cause native bird species to become less conspicuous in an area.

Description and background

Magpies are a large black and white bird, with a distinctive warbling call. The black-backed magpie and the more predominant white-backed magpie commonly interbreed, producing birds with intermediate markings. Both sub-species of the Australian magpie were introduced into New Zealand with the aim of controlling invertebrate soil pests. Magpies were widely distributed throughout the Wellington region by the 1970s. Their preferred habitat is open grassland and cultivated paddocks with tall trees nearby for shelter.

What can I do?

There are several successful control methods for magpies.

In rural areas, magpies can be shot using a shotgun, .22 rifle or a high powered air rifle. Magpies can be attracted within range with a decoy and a recording of the magpie distress call, which can be purchased from sports and outdoor stores.

Greater Wellington has live capture magpie traps which can be supplied for use in suitable areas. These traps require a flat grassed area on private land where the trap can be left for several days. The person using the trap is responsible for the welfare of the live call bird, and the destruction of any wild birds captured in the trap.

Where magpies are persistently attacking pedestrians and cyclists in public areas, Greater Wellington will undertake control.

Additional information can be found at –

Greater Wellington magpies brochure

Landcare Research Magpies

Bionet - information about pests and disease in New Zealand