There are lots of reasons to want to get rid of crows.
Crows dive bomb trash cans and scatter trash in broad daylight.
Crows compete with songbirds at bird feeders and chow down at dog and cat food bowls. Recent studies have found that they are able to communicate their food discoveries to other crows. One crow is quickly followed by dozens.
They carry prions that cause wasting diseases similar to mad cow disease.
It’s true that a family of crows will devour up to 40,000 insects over the three warmest months of summer. Everything about crows isn’t bad. But it’s sensible self-defense to keep crows away from your home.
In this article, we’ll share some of the most effective ways to get rid of crows without killing them. We will start with the one method that always works.
Remove all sources of food and water for crows
When your landscape is overrun by crows, and you are ready to take drastic action, here’s what you do:
Eliminate water sources from your yard.
Eliminate food sources, too.
Make sure Fido and Fluffy are fed indoors, take out any fruit trees and berry bushes, place tight-fitting metal lids on any outdoor trash receptacles, let the birdbath dry out, and drain the swimming pool.
Don’t leave any trash lying around in plastic bags. Crows can easily tear them open.
Cover your garbage. if dogs or raccoons get into your garbage overnight, pick it up right away. Even better, get rid of garbage as fast as you can.
If you do composting, use a compost tumbler. Don’t have an open compost pile on your property. Crows love to pick through to find interesting and tasty peelings, core, and shells.
We previously alluded to the fact that crows will find food in manure. Don’t anything other than completely composted manure to fertilize plants
Is that a little too extreme for you? There aren’t any other methods of crow control that are completely effective, but each of the following methods will at least reduce numbers.
Our next suggestion is a method almost as effective as the first.
Put up bird netting
In theory, bird netting catches birds. In reality, bird netting mostly scares away birds that don’t want to get caught in it.
However, there is a real danger of capturing and injuring smaller birds, like hummingbirds and sparrows.
And birds that find their way through bird netting typically can’t find their way out.
The best way to use bird netting is to protect small areas of small plants, like your vegetable garden, and to use the net that is fine enough to deter crows but has holes large enough to let bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds in and out.
A mesh of 4 inches (10 cm) or smaller will do. Just remember you aren’t using this net to exclude insects. They will still be able to get through the net.
Bird netting wouldn’t be very popular if it required frequent collection of dead birds caught in it.
Some homeowners drape bird netting over the flower beds and vegetable patches they want to protect.
Some people drape bird netting from the eaves of their roof over their patios.
Put up a scarecrow
If you watch horror movies, you’ve seen modern reinterpretations of the traditional scarecrow.
The old-timey scarecrow wasn’t really very effective.
It was a crude imitation of a human being with arms outstretched, usually topped with a pointed hat.
It was meant to trick crows into thinking there was a human being stationed in a field ready to do them harm.
There still are scarecrows, but they don’t look anything like the historical version. The twenty-first version of a scarecrow is a decoy predator.
Hang a fake owl to scare crows in your yard.
You can find them in sporting goods stores and online. Move it around frequently, at least every day, so crows don’t use their superior intelligence to deduce that it is fake.
Or hang an upside-down fake dead crow somewhere it can move with the wind to get the crows’ attention. Some crows will find the apparent sight of a dead crow so frightening they will never return.
You can find fake crows in a party supply store, where they are sold as creepy Halloween decorations.
It’s important to understand that hanging a decoy crow right side up will attract crows instead of scaring them away.
Crows are extremely social animals that will check out anyplace other crows have scouted out first.
You can purchase a fake dead crow at a party supply store. Tie a string to the feet of the dummy dead crow and place it where crows make frequent visits.
Cats and dogs perform the same function as decoy animals. However, both cats and dogs sometimes attack and eat other birds, no matter how well they are fed.
Keep your yard scrupulously clean
Crows are highly intelligent birds that have a keen sense of novelty. They will fly to any kind of messy area just to see the unusual foods and interesting items they can find there.
Add to this the fact that crows are notoriously omnivorous. They will eat any kind of organic matter, dead or alive, sanitary or not.
It is very important to keep your yard free of dead animals, dead bugs, and food scraps. It’s also important to provide shelter to any desirable nesting birds (before they lay their eggs.)
This is so the crows won’t raid their nests and eat their eggs and hatchlings.
If you want to continue to feed songbirds and hummingbirds, change your feeders.
Use a hummingbird feeder with tiny openings that exclude bigger-beaked birds and bees.
Switch to a weight-activated seed feeder that will snap shut when a heavier bird like a crow tries to perch on it to get a seed, mealworms, or suet.
It’s important to clean up any spills from your bird feeder every day to keep crows from finding them.
Once you have made sure you don’t have any kind of edible garbage lying around and your bird feeders are secure, then you need to make sure you don’t have any small, stationary, shiny objects in your yard.
Crows will see shiny objects when they fly over your landscape.
They will indulge their curiosity about any shiny object that doesn’t look large enough to be threatening.
However, you can make light work for you to control crows.
Hang large shiny objects throughout your yard
Crows may be attracted to small shiny objects, but they have an innate fear of large shiny objects.
By “large,” we mean anything larger than a used compact disc up to the size of an aluminum pie pan.
It helps if you hang large shiny objects so they move in the wind. It’s even better if they are on some kind of carousel that lets them change location throughout the day.
You can use party string to hang CDs and aluminum plates.
Mylar balloons filled with helium also make great decoys, but they have a tendency to blow away.
Even better, hang multiple shiny objects together so they make noise as they hit each other when the wind blows.
What about scaring away crows with laser pointers? Here are a few things you need to know:
- Up 99% of crows will leave after laser light is pointed at them. However, about 50% of them will be back in 15 minutes.
- Your neighbors and the police will become very alarmed if they see laser light pointed at them.
- Lasers that generate 5 milliwatts of power or more can blind airplane pilots, drivers, and pedestrians if you accidentally point your operational laser at them.
We can’t recommend using commercially available lasers — ever — for getting rid of crows from your yard. However, there is a safe bird-deterrent laser system that has been developed by LORD Ingenierie of France.
Their device enlarges the laser beam to about 6 inches (15 cm) in diameter so it won’t blind people who see it.
Actually, the safety of the device depends on a natural reflex that keeps you from looking at the light for more than about 250 milliseconds, a quarter of a second.
The beam only delivers about 0.7 milliwatts of energy to the human eye even if the pupil is fully open.
To birds flying overhead, the light looks like a huge swinging stick. The laser only fires when it detects overhead motion.
The LORD Ingenierie system is being used at airports all over the world, but it is not yet available for homeowners.
Remove nesting areas
If you don’t want crows feeding on your property or roosting on your property, you certainly don’t want them building a nest on your property.
Removing nesting areas is a high priority in controlling crows. Crows like to gather in groups.
They share nesting areas. When you deprive one pair of crows of nesting space, you keep dozens of other crows from joining them. You keep their chicks from joining them for family reunions (a real phenomenon) in future years.
Here are some ways to keep crows from nesting on your property.
- If you hang up birdhouses for other birds, make sure the entry port is at least 6 inches (15 cm) above the base of the birdhouse. This keeps crows from stealing eggs and eating baby birds.
- Get rid of dead branches. They are a favorite overnight pit stop for migrating crows.
- Make sure attic doors are closed and outbuildings don’t have cracked windows or other entryways for birds. It’s rare for crows to nest inside a building, but it’s not unknown.
Use noise deterrents, but only occasionally
Crows emit distress calls when they are attacked by predators or find themselves in other kinds of danger.
These calls incorporate frequencies too high for humans to hear (but, it might disturb your dog and cat).
The crow distress calls you can find on YouTube, however, include distress sounds in frequencies you and your neighbors can hear.
You need to let your neighbors in on your plan to drive your crows away with the sound and only use your noise deterrents when they will cause minimum inconvenience to people and pets.
In addition to the crow distress calls you can find on YouTube, other noisemakers that crows can’t stand include:|
- Firecrackers. You will need to use them during the day to keep crows away, or at night to disperse roosting crows.
- Gunfire. Gunshots are highly effective for getting rid of crows, but usually illegal inside city limits. Use good judgment elsewhere. Remember that bullets that go up must come down somewhere.
- Car alarms and air horns. In urban settings, your neighbors need to be informed ahead of time you are using this approach.
- Recordings of birds that prey on crows, such as owls and hawks.
Ultrasonic pest repellents generate loud high-frequency noise that crows find painful. The openings in their head where they would have ears ache until crows fly away.
Ultrasonic sound generators also repel mice and rats, but they annoy bats, cats, dogs, and desirable birds.
Whichever noise deterrent you use, couple the noise deterrent with other methods of keeping crows away. Don’t rely on sound alone. Don’t use the same method of noise deterrence more than once a week, to keep crows from becoming accustomed to it.
There is one more method that uses sound and light to keep crows off your property.
There are bird repellers that can detect unwanted birds up to 90 feet (about 30 meters) away.
When they are activated by an approaching large bird, they flash strobe light and generate ultrasound to drive birds away.
These devices don’t run all the time, so the crows won’t learn to ignore them. But they are non-specific, and they repel both crows and other birds and wildlife you may want on your property, and they are unpleasant for pets.
Your neighbors and their pets may not like them, either.
Install bird spikes on roosting and nesting sites
Fences and roof lines are favorite roosting sites for crows staying overnight.
There may be limbs on trees that are suitable for nesting that you don’t want to remove for any of a number of reasons.
There may be tall trees that become filled with crows that you don’t want to take down or that are protected by local ordinances.
The cost of removing a tree can be considerably greater than the benefit of getting rid of the crows.
One way to keep crows out of these roosting and nesting sites is to install bird spikes.
Bird spikes are stainless steel or translucent plastic spears that keep birds from using a flat surface as a perch, an overnight roosting site, or for nesting.
Bird spikes come in strips with a tear-off paperback that reveals glue.
Just position the spikes where you want to use them, peel off the paper on the back of the strip, and place the spikes where you want to keep birds away.
Stainless steel is more visible to cows and keeps them from even flying close to nesting or roosting sites.
But if you don’t want the spikes to be visible to human passersby, go with clear plastic.
Three More Things You Need to Know About Getting Rid of Crows
- No matter which method you use to get rid of crows, make a point of dispersing crows after sundown but before it gets dark. Dispersing crows at dusk forces them to look for a new roosting space, which is extremely inconvenient to them. If you time your crow dispersal methods so crows can never spend the night, they may eventually leave your property for good. If you don’t keep them from roosting at night, it’s unlikely you will ever get rid of them entirely.
- Start using crow deterrents in the early spring (or early fall, if you live where crows like to spend the winter). Crows are migratory birds. They scout out new locations for feeding and roosting every time they migrate. Keep your property off their list of feeding and breeding grounds by acting as soon as they arrive.
- Young crows sometimes hang around for a year after they leave the nest to help their parents raise the next generation of chicks. If you permit crows to nest and raise their young (and you can’t kill them because of US and Canadian laws), you won’t just get another year of baby crows, their older brothers and sisters will stay on your property too.
There isn’t any single legal method of getting rid of crows from your property that will rid your property of crows forever.
But applying all of these methods from time to time you can keep the invasion of crows to a minimum.
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