Looking to learn how to to get rid of crows?
Well then, you're in the right place!
In this guide you'll learn about:
- Crow Biology and Habits
- Using Traps To Get Rid of Crows
- Visual, Mechanical, and Chemical Deterrents For Crows
- As Well As Many Other
Getting rid of crows has been a full-time job for centuries. Scarecrows have been used by farmers as far back as 3000 years ago in ancient Egypt. In Greek history, the god Dionysus and the goddess Aphrodite are thought to have started as scarecrows.
Unfortunately, The Wizard of Oz was correct about scarecrows – they don't work very well. Although crows have relatively tiny brains compared to ours, they're not stupid.
If a scarecrow stands still for too long they'll start to realize it's not alive. Once that happens, they'll lose all fear of it and, more than likely, all future scarecrows in the same area as well.
So, how do we get rid of crows? Well, it helps if we know something about them.
What Exactly Are Crows?
Crows, Corvus brachyrhynchos, lay between 2-4 eggs at a time and are known as cooperative breeders because the young will often stay with their parents to help them raise the next generation. Up to five generations have been observed around one nest helping each other in this fashion.
They migrate, but they're very territorial and return to the same area year after year. If they've already established your property as their territory, you're in for a long tough battle. You can win it, but it's going to take some time.
Crows that make it past their first year can expect to live as long as 17-21 years. Crows mate for life. They also have a tremendous demonstrated ability to learn, which is why getting rid of them is so difficult.
Another difficulty is that crows are omnivores, meaning they'll eat anything. So unless your backyard is paved over or composed solely of inedible things such as pebbles or astroturf, they're going to find something to eat in it.
Their chief predators are Great Horned Owls, Red-Tailed Hawks, and raccoons. Coyotes are also known to hunt them for food.
However, crows are very social and if enough of them are gathered together they'll turn the tables on their predators by ganging up on them.
As you can see from the foregoing, keeping crows away from your house and property is going to be a challenge, particularly in light of their ultra-fast learning curve. We'll look at a wide variety of possible methods and discuss the pros and cons of each as it relates to crows.
- Traps will be the first thing we'll consider. They do have some utility but not as much as we'd like.
- Next, we'll look at visual deterrents, which covers decoys of various kinds, reflective devices, and electronic laser devices.
- Mechanical deterrents will be next. This covers devices for delivering electric shocks, bird spikes, and nets. Quick hint; these will be the most effective but also the most expensive. More on that later.
- Chemical deterrents are non-lethal chemicals which create feelings of discomfort for birds that come into contact with them.
- We'll also look at auditory deterrents which use noise, either sonic (audible) or ultrasonic (inaudible), to drive crows away.
- Crows are smart enough to very quickly learn to recognize individual people, and whether or not those people are dangerous. Convince them you're one of the dangerous ones and pretty soon they'll take off at the very sight of you.
- At the end, we'll tell you how to create a layered defense to discourage the crows.
There will be some overlap between the various categories obviously because some the devices span two or more of them, and we'll discuss those as we come to them. We've got a lot of information to cover, so let's get started!
What Traps Are Effective on Crows?
Traps are large distinctive objects. Many birds will be skittish around traps when you first put them out.
After an acclimation period where you leave the doors on the traps propped open, allowing the birds to wander in and out, will they finally get comfortable enough to enter them when the doors aren't propped open, allowing you to catch them.
Once you've caught a bird you're faced with the question of what to do with it. Most birds can travel vast distances to return home.
Migratory birds are especially good at this, so unless you ready to take your captured birds for a thousand-mile journey to the other side of the continent, you're going to have to kill them. The easiest way is to submerge the whole trap in water and drown them.
It's a permanent solution but with a large downside. Crows are very social creatures and the one(s) in the trap will be squawking for help right up to the moment you drop the trap in the water.
The rest of the crow's family will identify you (that learning ability of theirs) and connect you with the trap that killed one of them. After that, you couldn't get them into the trap with the best bait in the world.
Traps will work on crows – once. Maybe twice if you're lucky, but that's it.
You'll need to find a different solution.
How About Some Visual Deterrents?
Decoys and other visual devices such as scarecrows have been used for decades, sometimes centuries, to frighten or confuse birds and keep them away.
Used properly, they can be very effective, but the key word is properly. It requires a very hands-on, interactive approach in order for decoys to work on crows.
We'll start by looking at owl decoys. There are almost as many owl decoys as there are species of owls but for crows, the best ones are Great Horned Owl decoys.
A number of them have moving heads and flashing eyes (battery powered) to enhance the believability factor, while others have wings that move up and down. Still others make predator sounds.
Place your owl/hawk/eagle decoys as high off the ground as possible.
Additionally, we recommend getting 4-5 different owl/hawk/eagle decoys, then using them one at a time. Pick out 6 or 7 ideal locations around your house, garden, or yard.
Every day, every single day, remove the existing decoy and set out a new one, but in a different location. Continually put out a new decoy in a different location, every day. Crows sleep at night so the best time to swap the decoys is just before sunrise in the morning or just after sunset in the evening.
The gable of your roof, the gutters, the top of chimneys, the top of fence posts, on tall poles, on tree branches, and patio beams are all excellent locations for your decoys.
Eagle decoys, like the owl decoys above, provide a very good deterrent. There are almost as many eagle decoys as there are owl decoys. Many of them also move or make noises to frighten away nuisance birds.
Because eagles share the predatory behavior patterns as owls so you should use them the same way, as high as possible, switching them out every day, and perhaps even alternating owl and eagle decoys to keep the crows guessing, and therefore scared.
The following video is a short review on an attack eagle decoy.
There are life-size, 3D coyote decoys. They have a movable tail that does a fairly decent job of imitating actual coyote movements.
It's completely realistic looking and in full color. The moving tail goes a long way toward convincing crows that it's alive and therefore dangerous.
As we mentioned earlier though, a large enough group of crows will be emboldened to attack coyotes in an effort to drive them away. Move this decoy every day or the crows may wind up attacking it and discover it's not real, at which point it will become useless to you.
One thing that will help convince crows it's realistic is to “hide it.” Crows know that predators will try to ambush their prey. If they see your decoy “hiding” in the bushes or lurking behind trees it will go a long way toward convincing them it's alive.
If you put it out in the open it will arouse their suspicions that something isn't right. Before long they'll be prompted to investigate and discover the truth of the matter. Therefore, do your best to position the decoy so it appears to be hiding the way a real coyote would and they'll assume the worst.
These can be a lot of fun if you have problems with ducks or geese. If you have a fish pond and the crows are trying to nab your fish, or just using it as a watering hole, this is a good deterrent. One floating decoy is the Gator Guard.
It's just the head of an alligator, but it is completely life-like in size, shape, and color. It even has mirrored eyes that seem to “follow” birds around as they move. As soon as crows catch a glimpse of an alligator head lurking in the water they'll know they can't defeat it, but it can certainly eat them.
One advantage of alligator decoys is that live alligators are prone to lurking motionless in one position for hours at a time. You can probably hold off moving this decoy every day and instead move it every other day.
As with the coyote decoy, try to “hide” it to make it more believable. Another trick is to add some weights to it to make it sink lower in the water.
This will leave just the eyes showing – a classic alligator pose – while still leaving a shadow in the water the crows can easily see, and hopefully, be afraid of.
The nice thing about this is that even crows need water to drink. If they can't find it on your property they might be induced to find it somewhere else.
Reflective Bird Deterrents
Contrary to the Saturday morning cartoons, crows don't like shiny objects, for the simple reason that shiny objects aren't edible.
Shiny objects can also hurt their eyes if they reflect sunlight at them. Any reflective surface, especially those that move and send shafts of light in every direction, will blind and confuse crows as they're coming in for a landing or flying through your yard.
It's the same as having the sunshine in your eyes when you're driving. It's very disorienting. They can be used anywhere on your house, roof, garden, or yard and they're very effective – when combined with other methods.
Reflective deterrents aren't a stand-alone deterrent, and they were never meant to be.
There are all kinds of reflective bird deterrents. Most of them are hanging reflectors that move in the wind. As they do, they reflect sunlight in every direction.
Hang them everywhere you can. The crows will know they're not alive and will know they're not directly dangerous, but that won't help when the light is in their eyes.
If you've got enough moving reflectors around your yard and house, randomly sending beams of light all over the place, it's going to make your place very uncomfortable for them. Searing light in the eyes isn't something they can adjust to or get comfortable with either.
Although they're not reflective, inflatable bird “balloon” repellents are good visual deterrents for smaller birds. They're actually quite ingenious.
Once they're inflated, usually about to the size of a basketball, the huge staring predator eyes painted on them will scare most birds into thinking an owl or eagle is in the vicinity. Hang these up trees or from the gutters of your house and most birds will panic and flee.
But crows? Not so much.
Crows are too smart, and too bold when they're in large groups, to be taken in for long by these devices.
Bird Blazer Lasers, from Bird-X, are basically a high tech version of hanging reflectors. Instead of reflecting sunlight, lasers fight painful, but non-harmful lasers around the area, blinding birds so they can't see unless they get out of Dodge, i.e., away from your house and yard.
You'll need to mount one on each side of your house along with several out in the yard. The ones in the yard should be positioned so they have overlapping fields of coverage, hitting the crows with lasers from several different directions at once.
The more the merrier!
These lasers can be pole mounted around your garden or yard or attached to tree limbs, patio beams, and fence tops. Unlike most the items we've mentioned, these can be positioned on the ground and aimed upwards into the sky to blind the crows as they try to come in for a landing.
Care for Some Mechanical Deterrents?
This is a fairly broad category that deals with anything crows have to physically touch. Electric shocks, bird spikes, and nets fall into this group.
Aversion/deterrent liquids and gels also fall into this category because they require physical contact, but we'll deal with them separately under chemical deterrent.
Mechanical deterrents won't prevent crows from approaching your house or property but they'll keep them from land anywhere these methods are employed.
The AviShock electric strip system comes in four different colors to match the color and décor of your house and is highly effective. The strips have to be laid on the areas where crows are prone to land, mainly on your house.
If you want to use this system out in the yard, trees, fences, etc., you'll need to add some wiring, preferably buried in PVC piping to supply electricity to it. Given the electrical nature of this system, it's probably best to have it installed by a certified electrician.
When crows land on the strip it delivers a painful shock of electricity. It's not enough to kill t hem but it will definitely scare them away, It's basically an electric fence, but for crows instead of dogs.
The original package comes with 65 feet of track. More can be purchased separately as needed. It's mounted with screws, nails, or using a special adhesive which is included in the kit.
One word of warning, once installed, it should be regarded as a permanent addition. A second word of warning is that this system is very expensive compared to everything else. Be prepared to spend several thousand dollars on it.
Bird spikes, which are made of either metal or plastic, are long and thin with sharp points on them. You have to mount them in places where crows like to roost. When they try to land, they'll get a painful poke, or several, discouraging them trying it again.
Bird spikes are so thin they're virtually invisible from the ground. Bird spikes aren't as expensive as the electric shock system, but they're not cheap either. Plastic spikes are the least expensive option but the metal ones, usually made of stainless steel, will last longer.
They can be glued in place on ledges, window sills, and anywhere else you want to keep crows away from. They have pre-drilled in the bases so they can be nailed or screwed in place.
Once installed, they, like the AviShock system, should also be seen as a permanent addition. Because they don't require electricity, these are very handy for use on fences and tree branches.
One note; leaves and other windblown debris easily get caught in the spikes. When that happens it creates a cushion or barrier that will protect the birds. You'll need to keep them cleaned to prevent that from happening.
Here's a short video that will guide you throughout the entire process of installing bird spikes.
Anti-bird nets are very useful for keeping crows out of your garden or flower beds. The netting itself isn't very expensive but it requires some kind of framework to support it.
The net needs to be strung tightly in order for it to be effective, which in turn requires a strong, stable framework that can withstand the tension. You'll have to build one over your garden and/or flowerbeds.
When you build it, bear in mind that you'll have to create some kind of entry point, perhaps a door or flap that can be opened to permit entrance then closed to keep the crows out. Bird nets generally aren't practical for covering a whole house, they're better suited to covering flower beds, small gardens, patios, and other small or confined areas.
Are Chemical Deterrents a Good Option as Well?
Liquid and gel repellents rely on physical touch to work. Their mode of operation is chemical their effectiveness will be determined by the individual reactions of each separate bird.
Crows are fairly strong as birds go so these methods won't be as effective on them as on some other birds. They'll work, just not as well as we'd like.
This liquid deterrent uses methylanthranilate as the active ingredient. It's a derivative of concord grapes. It triggers an adverse reaction in birds. It's also slightly smelly, to birds, which creates an additional incentive for them to leave.
Notice, this is an incentive not a requirement. It discourages birds but doesn't stop them outright.
It's only intended for use outside. You'll need to spray it on with a hand sprayer. For crows, don't dilute it with water.
Use the undiluted concentrate and spray it all over every surface you've seen the crows land on. Be generous in your application. Depending on the size of the area you're treating, you might need 3-4 gallons.
This liquid deterrent is a colorless liquid that creates a tacky, sticky sensation that feels like stepping in a puddle of glue. It makes birds pick up their feet in an effort to get away from it.
FYI: cleaning the hand sprayer or brush requires the use of a specialized solvent, a Bird Repellent Remover. The instructions for using it can be found on the manufacturer's website.
The same kind of repellent can be found in gel form. It is a thick, pasty gel that has to be applied with a caulking gun where crows like to land on your house, patio beams, etc.
Since it is generally applied up out of sight where it can't be seen and is mostly colorless anyway, it won't cause a mess.
Will Auditory Deterrents Work?
Sonic bird repellents are devices that use pre-recorded predator sounds to frighten crows away.
These sonic bird repellents can be used in combination with decoys, assuming you're using them.
They're normally motion activated (although some can be programmed to sound off at regular intervals) to startle birds with unexpected sounds when they approach your house, yard, or garden. Since the sounds are authentic predator noises, there's no way for the crows to mistake them for anything else.
Unpredictably occurring predator sounds, combined with random and constantly changing decoys and locations (see above) should be very effective.
Be sure to move the sonic repellers as well. Crows are smart enough to figure out that predator sounds which always come from the same spot but never result in any predator jumping out to attack them, are harmless.
We keep mentioning how smart crows are. They can use tools, communicate in sophisticated ways, and remember individual human faces. In other words, they can identify you, as you.
They quickly learn if you're dangerous or not. They can even learn whether or not you're really after them when you come running out of the house flapping your arms to scare them off or if you're actually trying to kill them. They can make those kinds of distinctions.
If you're serious about getting rid of crows, add yourself to the mix of deterrents you're using on them. Get a BB Gun, a pole net like the ones used for fishing, and a pile of rocks or hard balls. Station them beside the door.
At random times throughout the day, come outside with one of them and do your dead level best to kill one of the crows. Use a different tool each time so they'll soon associate your appearance with a serious effort on their lives.
This will convince them you're a dangerous predator.
If you spot one of their nests, and you're physically able to climb up to it, put on some protective clothing and destroy it along with any eggs in it. Make sure they see you doing it.
They'll probably attack you which is why you'll need some protective clothing, including a face shield and gloves.
But, and here is the key, immediately stop pursuing them the moment they leave your property. Territoriality is something crows instinctively understand. It won't take long before they start to realize they're safe from you as long as they stay out of your territory.
If they've staked out your property as their territory, it might take a while to establish yourself as the alpha predator in the area (which is why you should actively try to kill them) but once you do, you're basically home free.
One additional thing you can do to establish your territory is going to sound a bit strange; feed them anytime they're off your property. Take some bird seed or corn and toss it to them whenever you leave your property.
Remember, crows can identify individual people. If they see you feeding them and being generally non-threatening when they're off your property, but a holy terror to them when they are, it won't take long before they get the message.
Crows are smart enough to make those kinds of distinctions and it will speed up the process of getting them to accept that your property is your territory instead of theirs.
With all the options presented, it all boils down to securing a layered defense as your best solution to the problem.
It consists of a broad array of anti-bird devices, repellents, and deterrents, all set up in concentric rings around your property and house. The vast majority of methods we've talked about here won't get rid of all the birds, so you'll need to use several them in succession to get it done.
Crows are smart, tough, and tenacious. You can't just put out some decoys and bird spikes or whatever, then sit back and wait for them to work. You'll have to be aggressively pro-active to get rid of them. Go after them like a ferocious guard dog for long enough and you will win.