The bald eagle may be our national symbol, but virtually every American has encountered the crow. These highly intelligent, adaptable birds congregate in our rural and urban areas alike in flocks (also ominously known as murders) of sometimes hundreds, even thousands.
A bane to gardeners for the way they feast on seeds and fruits, crows could be called the goats of the sky because they'll eat virtually anything, making a mess on your property and a lot of noise in the process. That said, they aren't all bad-a crow family can devour tens of thousands of grubs, caterpillars, and other garden pests in a single season.
If you decide to discourage crows from roosting 'round your place, try these helpful tips.
How to Get Rid of Crows
A lone scarecrow might not be too effective, but the strategies below-which work best when used consistently and in conjunction with one another-can frighten off your feathered foes. Just be sure to vary the position and location of items you utilize so that clever crows won't become desensitized to them.
To send crows packing, use:
• Decoys. Hang creepy-crow Halloween decorations upside down, with their wings spread out. Thinking these are their dead brethren, crows will beat it, pronto!
• Shiny stuff. Put out bright, shiny Mylar balloons and ribbons that will blow in the breeze and glint in the sunlight. Alternatively, string old CDs and/or cheap silverware into shiny, makeshift wind chimes that you can hang from tree branches around your property. The advantage of the latter approach? Rattling and clanging sounds deter crows as much as reflected light.
• Distress signals. Play recorded distress calls of other crows to keep them at bay. Noisemakers and the sounds of fireworks are also a repellent. Just be considerate: Let close neighbors in on your noisy battle plan and schedule your noisemaking whenever it would be the least disruptive.
How to Keep Crows Away
To prevent crows from returning, make your property less attractive by:
• Covering your trash. Use garbage cans with tight-fitting lids and put them in a secure area. If they're open, crows will belly up to the buffet. And if dogs or raccoons turn your receptacles over at night, crows will have a smorgasbord come morning.
• Composting wisely. If you put kitchen scraps in your compost, cover it to keep crows out. Or only compost yard waste, which doesn't interest crows.
• Feeding conscientiously. The seed you offer songbirds will attract crows as well, so secure and clean around feeders. Only use feeders that exclude large birds, position them so that they can't be overturned, and tidy up any spilled feed regularly. Also avoid feeding Fido and Fluffy outdoors, or remove any leftovers as soon as mealtime is over.
• Thinning trees near gardens. Crows love to roost in tall trees, so you may wish to remove mighty specimens growing near a food source like your veggie patch. Plant new trees in areas less hospitable to crows.
• Protecting your plants. If crows return despite your best efforts, you can keep them from ravaging your garden by draping bird netting over your most precious plants. Seedling may be protected with fabric row covers. If you're growing corn-crows' favorite dish-try placing a paper cup or paper bag over each ear of corn, once the silk has turned brown.
Now that you've banished these wily, unwelcome guests, your garden can flourish-and that's really something to crow about!