To make it harder for Magpies to clean out the peanut feeder and keep the smaller birds away, I made a cage. It works, up to a point. You can’t really keep Magpies out of anything; what they can’t solve through brute force, they solve through ingenuity, and vice versa, and if you defeat them on both levels, nothing else will get to whatever you’re protecting either. My idea is the increase the amount of energy they require to extract peanuts so that they spend more energy than they get from them, and hope that they’re smart enough to make this calculation too.
I think that there are too many Magpies in this area for the resources available to them, and they’re resorting to eating things in bulk that they would not normally be so keen on, such as peanuts. If anything is out there for any length of time, there can be up to 12 or more Magpies in the garden, checking it out. I took the feeders in because I felt that I was basically stocking Magpie feeders, and so encouraging them.
What pushed me into trying to solve the problem was the sight of a lean Greenfinch frantically dancing outside the kitchen door, trying to figure out how to get to the peanut feeder inside. Clearly, still some demand not being met out there for small birds. We’ll see how it goes, but I’ve already planned out a protected ground-level feeder for the ground birds that seem to have stopped coming.