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Getting Rid of Crows

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black crow

Crows are highly intelligent birds, but sometimes their raucous calls, or dominance of the bird feeder may be cause for wanting them to move on. This is a guide about getting rid of crows.

Solutions: Getting Rid of Crows

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Tip: CD Scare Crows

Old CDs or DVDs glinting in the sun make the best bird scarers.

By Lucy L. from Oxford, England

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Questions

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Question: Getting Rid of Crows

Our oak trees are full of big ugly black crows. Is there any way to get rid of them without scaring off the other birds? The crows are very destructive, tearing up pots of flowers and flower beds, and scaring away the mocking birds and blue jays, not to mention the mess they make of our patio furniture. I don't want to hurt them, I just want them to go away.

By Cisco's Mom from FL


Most Recent Answer

By Deanj07/24/2012

Methods to disperse crows from a night roost include:

Harassment Techniques
Harassment techniques include visual and audio stimuli and an assortment of other approaches to make crows uncomfortable enough to move elsewhere. If possible, act quickly when large numbers of roosting crows are detected. The birds will be more willing to abandon a roost site they have not been using long.

Note: Most harassment techniques are effective only for a short time and the public may not like them because they cause crows to move elsewheresuch as a neighborhood park or someones backyard containing large trees.

Visual scare devices include Mylar tape, eye-spot balloons, scarecrows, and laser devices. Visual harassment devices can provide effective short-term control, especially when they are used in combination with auditory devices.

Audio scare devices include hazing with pyrotechnics such as cracker shells, blanks, propane cannons, and recorded crow distress and warning calls.

The main drawback with recorded calls is that crows ultimately learn they are not real and get used (habituate) to them. Because distress calls are given when a crow is being held by a predator, and alarm calls are given when there is a predator in the neighborhood, crows probably expect to see a predator whenever they hear one of these calls. If they do not, they may realize that something is not right and habituate more rapidly to the distress and alarm calls. For this reason, it is wise to pair the broadcast of these calls with a predator model, such as a scarecrow.

When using any auditory scare device, change the area from which it is emitted, daily if possible. When using pyrotechnics, try to elevate them above the roost site.

Crows scare most easily when they are flying. They are most difficult to scare when perched in the protection of their roost. Therefore, audio devices should begin to be used when the first birds come in to roost, usually an hour and a half before dark. The same group of crows may circle around and come toward the roost many times, so scaring efforts need to continue until it gets dark.

Scaring should stop with darkness or the crows will become accustomed to the sounds. If using recorded alarm calls, play them only 10 to 15 seconds per minute when the birds are coming in. When most of the birds are perched, play the call continuously until dark. If possible, early morning scaring should be used in conjunction with evening scaring, and should begin as soon as the first bird movement is detected in the roost, often just before daylight.

Success may not be achieved for several nights and will entail continuous efforts every evening and every morning. Because the crows may attempt to establish temporary roosts in other unsuitable locations, scaring efforts may be needed elsewhere until the birds move to an acceptable area. If crows are disturbed in their new roost site they will move back to the old one. Be prepared to resume efforts if they return.

Modify the Night Roost
Modifying the structure of the crows night roost can discourage the birds from using it. This includes thinning up to 50 percent of the branches of roost trees, or removing trees from dense groves to reduce the availability of perch sites and to open the trees to the weather. A tree service company can remove tree limbs.

Before and after pruning of a large coniferous tree and a small deciduous tree to reduce their attractiveness to roosting birds.

Other Techniques
Other techniques to disperse crows include using 4-inch mesh bird netting to create a barrier between the roost and the crows; spraying crows with water from a high pressure hose (some cities have used a fire hose); installing a 360 degree sprinkler up in the roost tree; and lighting up the interior of the roost with bright fluorescent lights.

Dive-Bombing Crows

Most aggressive behavior from birds is motivated by defense of their territory or young, or their search for handouts. Hummingbirds have been noted to buzz people wearing red, perhaps thinking that they were a group of nectar-rich flowers. Pigeons and swallows may appear to be attacking humans when actually they are returning to their nests in the eaves of buildings.

In the spring and summer crows and other birds establish territories, build nests, and rear young. During this period, adult birds may engage in belligerent behavior, such as attacking creatures many times their size. In this case, the birds are simply trying to protect their homes, their mates, or their young.

When possible, stay away from nesting areas with aggressive birds until the young are flying (three to four weeks after eggs hatch) and the parents are no longer so protective. (Do not attempt to rescue chicks found outside nests when adult birds are calling loudly nearbysee Baby Birds Out of the Nest for information.) If you must walk past a nest, wave your arms slowly overhead to keep the birds at a distance. Other protective actions include wearing a hat or helmet, or carrying an umbrella.

Lethal Control

Shooting is not an effective way to manage crow populations overall. The number of birds that can be killed by shooting is small relative to the size of the flock. However, shooting may be helpful where only a few birds are present, and in supplementing or reinforcing other dispersal techniques. First check the local ordinances regarding discharging firearms. For additional information regarding shooting crows, see Legal Status.

Public Health Concerns

Although health risks from birds are often exaggerated, large populations of roosting crows may present risks of disease to people nearby. The most serious health risks are from disease organisms growing in accumulations of droppings, feathers, and debris under a roost. This is most likely to occur if roosts have been active for years.

Precautions need to be taken when working around large concentrations of crow droppings. Call your local Public Health office for information.

At the time of writing, West Nile virus, a virus carried by mosquitoes, has killed thousands of crows in the Northeast, Southeast, and Midwest portions of the United States. Call your local Public Health office updated information. Always wear gloves when handling dead or live birds.

Legal Status

The crow is classified as a predatory bird (WAC 232-12-004). A hunting license and an open season are required to shoot them. Under federal guidelines, individuals may kill crows without a hunting license or permit when they are found committing, or about to commit, depredations on agricultural crops, or when concentrated in such numbers and manner as to constitute a health hazard or other nuisance (16 U.S.C. Sections 703712). The Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) is located at http://www.gpoaccess.gov/cfr/

Question: Crows Monopolize Bird Feeder

I feed the birds, but the crows seem to take over the bird feeder. I see them throwing the seeds on the ground and eating the good stuff. I don't mind feeding the crows, but how can I stop them from taking over?

By Nan from Cocoa Beach, FL


Most Recent Answer

By Charles08/02/2010

Since the answer may be location specific, I'll say I live in a suburb of Washington, DC. I had the same problem with crows monopolizing my feeders filled with sunflower seed and mixed bird seed. I switched to safflower and nyjer seed and the crows left. When I added feeders with suet and sunflower seed to those with safflower and nyjer seed, the crows came back. I plan to switch back to just safflower and nyjer seed next.