Spiny garden shrubs protect nests from magpies
Appeared on Space For Nature on August 24th 2003
In a letter to Natural World, the membership magazine of the Wildlife Trusts, Dr Yalden of Manchester University suggests that appropriate garden planting can protect nesting songbirds from magpies (Pica pica).
One of Dr Yalden's students studied 493 blackbird (Turdus merula) nests over three years in Manchester's parks. Of the 493 nests, only 23 were successful (an amazingly low proportion) and the study confirmed that magpies were 'largely responsible' for the failures. However, the encouraging news was that the successful nests were to be found in thick bramble (Rubus fruticosa) and hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna) where spines protected the nests from predation by magpies and other animals. Dr Yalden suggests using spiny shrubs like these in preference to laurel and rhododendron for example. When spiny shrubs are planted and pruned, the resulting bush provides ideal nesting cover for birds like blackbirds; affording them protection from magpies and cats.
Dr Yalden, University of Manchester. 2003. Letter to the editor of Natural World, the membership magazine of the Wildlife Trusts. Summer 2003.
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