Nest predation by magpies

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Karen LeCour
Karen LeCour's picture
Nest predation by magpies

I want to report 4 years of observations from our nest box in Pagosa Springs, CO:

2019 - Kestrel pair successfully fledged 3 chicks

2020 - Nest was raided by magpies and the kestrels abandoned it

2021 - The pair tried again and once again lost their eggs to magpies

2022 - The pair did not return

We have destroyed as many magpie nests in the area that we can find, however, it may have been too little, too late.

Nu-Sun Cinema
Nu-Sun Cinema's picture

Hi Karen,

Yes it is unfortunate of the predation. We have been doing research for 20+ years and have never had this happen. There are several magpies and nests in our research area. To us destroying the magpies nests is wrong. All have a place and purpose in the wild. The Kestrels obviously do not find your nest box a ccommodity or they would protect it viciously. Our Kestrels have dive bombed and acually made contact with the magpies. The magpies no better to tangle with our Kestrels. You can see our research, HD live streams and all we do in reguarding Kestrels at KESTREL KORNER.

Link to

Nu-Sun Cinema   American Kestrel Research Center

Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.

AKP-Matthew's picture

Hi Karen -

We're sorry to hear about the lack of success you've seen at your box over the last few years. Failed nests are an inevitable part of kestrel box monitoring, but they're never enjoyable to witness.

Magpie depredation isn't something we hear about especially often, so we would love for you to submit these observations to our database. You can find instructions for how to do so at this page on our website. Be advised that for your observations to be usable in future data analysis, we'll need a little more information than you've given here (some general info about your box such as its location, and what you observed in the box and when).

Lastly, while we completely understand your desire to protect kestrels, we need to concur with Nu-Sun that you should not be destroying magpie nests. Nest depredation is a completely natural part of kestrel breeding, and while the kestrel population is declining, it still stands at over two million individuals in North America alone. At this stage, documenting threats such as predation is far more valuable to the species than efforts to protect individual birds, as this allows the specific cause(s) of kestrel decline to be identified and future conservation efforts to directly address them. And a final but important note: Black-billed Magpies, like most native birds, are protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and destruction of their nests is strictly prohibited by law.

If you have questions about any of the above, please don't hesitate to contact our staff at Thank you for reaching out to share your observations.

AKP Staff

sansue's picture

Sorry to hear of your magpie problems! A pair of kestrels moved into our nest box for the first time in 2022. Magpies were a problem and often perched near the nest, but the kestrel pair still managed to successfully produce 3 offspring. They hung around our alfalfa field all summer. We have tree swallow nests as well and the swallows also harassed the kestrels. They all did okay I believe. There were more magpies than usual, and many were young birds.

Manitoba, Canada