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. Though 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. So while they aren’t all bad—a crow family can devour tens of thousands of grubs, caterpillars, and other garden pests in a single season—they can be discouraged from roosting ‘round your place with these helpful tips.
Employ Scare Tactics
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 clever crows won’t become desensitized to them. To send crows packing, use:
• Decoys. Hang creepy crow Halloween decorations upside with the wings spread out. Crows will think these are their dead brethren and beat it, pronto!
• Shiny stuff. Put out Mylar balloons and bright, reflective ribbons that will blow in the breeze and catch the sun’s light. String together multiple pie tins, cheap silverware, and/or old CDs as a funky set of wind chimes and hang in a tree or trellis. The idea here is to not only look scary but rattle too.
• Distress signals. Play recorded distress calls of other crows to keep them at bay. Noisemakers and the sounds of fireworks are also repellent. Just be considerate: Let close neighbors in on your noisy battle plan and find out the best time to enact it that won’t disturb others.
Keep Them 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, keep them from ravaging your garden. Drape bird netting over plants or suspend it from a framework built around plants. Protect seedlings with fabric row covers and, since corn is a crow’s favorite dish, thwart the hungry devils by placing a paper cup or bag over each ear after 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!