Katching the corvids

Well folks we have a new series of articles written by a 3rd generation game keeper,Young Robert and he owns katch-it traps, who make high quality traps and catch alive cages for all manner of beasts, from the humble rat, to foxes, and a whole host of sizes in between. To pop over to their fantastic site and see what they do click any of the Katch-it logos on this page.

With the smell of Sulphur still clinging to our nasal hairs from the last spent cartridges in January, unfortunately it’s time to come to terms that the season has ended and another is upon us. So now we are over that bombshell, it’s time to hit realization, it’s that time of year again.

The time of year where the real work begins, and the same problems rear their ugly heads! Yes im talking about the dreaded egg thieves. Egg thieves come in many forms from Crows, Jackdaws and Jays, but today we will be discussing Magpies. So a question which I am often asked with some frustration is ‘How do you catch your first call bird?’ Well this is a good one because, sadly for you there isn’t an easy answer so I will talk about the several options available.

Option number #1 which most people tend to go with is asking your friendly… ok who am I kidding rather grumpy local Keeper who always greets you with that heart-warming grimace and grunt for one of his captees from his Larsen trap. If you are lucky enough to be given one of these, make sure you put it to good use and remember to return the favour!

I like to live by an old saying one good turn deserves another, so think of your neighbouring Keepers, who may also be experiencing the same problem. Option number #2 Eggs. To entice your first egg thief, their must first be some eggs to steal! I find the best way to begin a Larsen trap without a call bird is by setting both spring doors with split perches, using some straw, shredded tin foil and sweet papers and forming a nest in the compartments. Once you have created your nests, hollow them slightly and place two boiled eggs still in their shell in the nest, take a third raw egg and crack the top slightly, thus exposing the yolk.

By exposing the yolk, you are creating more of a shine from the moisture, at the end of the day, Magpies are attracted to shiny objects for one reason and one reason alone it means lunch and that is either in the form of egg or blood. Option #3 Clam Traps and no I’m not saying a trip to the seaside is in order. Clam traps are a form of corvid trap which is operated by two springs. The main shell of the clam trap splits in half and is held under tension of two heavy duty springs, with a split perch placed in between the two halves, creating an open clam shell.

Inside the clam trap the above method of creating a nest with several eggs is used. But I hear you say, if I can do this with a Larsen why buy a clam trap? Well, that’s a great question. Clam traps are extremely light weight and should weigh no more than around 3kg, plenty light enough to sit on top of a blackthorn hedge. As we all know Magpies in particular, like to work hedgerows furiously during the nesting season and will account for many hundreds of unhatched songbirds. By placing the clam trap in this natural position will highly increase your chances of success and aid the Magpies into a feeling of security. Secondly due to the nature of a clam trap they are exceedingly ‘inviting’ in comparison to a Larsen trap.

A Larsen trap the bird must drop down into a restricted cage compartment, whereas a clam trap only has two sides, making the bird feel at greater ease whilst tucking into its lunch. A few words of warning when trapping any corvids, do not under any circumstances approach the trap during daylight hours. Corvids are incredibly intelligent creatures and become shy quickly! If they see you playing with their lunch they may not be so quick to eat it, this is particularly true for the use of call birds. Food, Water shelter. It goes without saying, ample fresh water, Feed and shelter should be made available to any call birds you use. I personally like to use dry complete dog feed as this keeps things hygienic and eliminates fly blow as you would expect using carrion. Good luck, Happy trapping and remember anyone can Katch-it with the right tools and knowledge!