Magpies, Squirrels and Crows

Keeping squirrels away from the bird feed is almost impossible.  Keeping magpies away from squirrel food is harder, and they are more voracious.  I’ve got an old bird feeder filled with peanuts, and the squirrels have to work for their food by climbing the feeder pole, balancing on top the feeder, hanging over the edge by their hind legs, and digging out a peanut or two.  It’s part of my squirrel aerobics program to help keep them in shape. 
Magpies, on the other hand, swoop in early in the morning, or any time they feel like it, chase away all other critters, fly at the feeder to rock it back and forth spilling peanuts onto the ground.  With a half dozen magpies making repeated strikes, a feeder full of peanuts can be emptied in an hour or less.  I finally put a tarp over it this morning, hoping that the squirrels would be smart enough to go under it.  The magpies held a convention to discuss the matter and make their complaints known.  Then they flew off.  The squirrels didn’t like the tarp idea so I took it off.  Maybe I’ll do it all over again tomorrow morning.  Retirement gives one the time to experiment like that.  New horizons they call it. 
This all started a couple of years ago with bird feeding, and then squirrel feeding to give the birds a chance at their own food.  I wonder if the next step is magpie feeding.  I hope not.  Just for the record, the neighborhood crows, who do not care for magpies either, are content to pick up crumbs off the ground and use the bird bath to soften up whatever food they have scrounged off the street. 
In other back yard news, the bird houses appear to have been leased up for the winter by new tenants, sparrows as usual.  There seem to be one or two minor property disputes about who the real lessee is.

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