Draw­ing in corvids

Shooting Times & Country Magazine - - CONTENTS -

I have bought a cou­ple of mag­pie de­coys in the hope of at­tract­ing corvids close enough to shoot them with my air ri­fle. I’ve tried us­ing them a few times and though crows and mag­pies have no­ticed them, they haven’t landed any­where nearby. I’m us­ing a hide and in­com­ing birds don’t ap­pear to be spooked. Why aren’t the de­coys work­ing?

Mag­pie and crow de­coys can work on their own but it often pays to add a lit­tle some­thing ex­tra to the ar­range­ment, es­pe­cially when you need birds to set­tle close enough to pick them off with an air ri­fle. Dur­ing the spring and sum­mer, when wild birds are nest­ing, I set up corvid de­coys next to a fake nest made from a few twists of dry grass with two hen’s eggs placed in­side. Later in the year, I use a more sub­stan­tial bait, usu­ally a dead rab­bit or squir­rel with its belly cut open to ex­pose its guts. This set-up cre­ates the im­pres­sion of a free meal and an el­e­ment of com­pe­ti­tion, and can usu­ally be re­lied upon to pull pass­ing corvids within range. MM black-and-white rap­tor — big­ger than a buz­zard with a no­tice­ably larger wing­span. The flight is more di­rect — with less soar­ing — and there is a kink in the wing pro­file that is re­ally dis­tinc­tive.

Most birds spend the win­ter in west Africa, in coun­tries such as Sene­gal, where they hunt for fish in rivers and es­tu­ar­ies. A Scot­tish-ringed osprey pro­duced one of the most fa­mous ring­ing re­ports of all time, when its ring was found in the stom­ach of a croc­o­dile on the Gam­bia river.

Add a dead squir­rel or rab­bit to your mag­pie de­coy and corvids should show more in­ter­est

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