How to achieve the silence of the crows?
May 3, 2007 7:24 PM   Subscribe

How can I silence the crows that have moved into the tree outside my window?

I need to deal with a murder of crows without actually murdering them. We recently moved into a new apartment in Tokyo with a couple of lovely big trees next to our 2nd-floor balcony. Now our peace is being destroyed by the incessant cawing of a bunch of crows that have taken up residence in the trees. If you've never seen the Japanese version of these birds, they are enormous, aggressive, Hitchcockian nightmares that are not easily scared. Short of buying a pellet gun, how can I get rid of them?
posted by jgt246 to Home & Garden (28 answers total)
posted by ArgentCorvid at 7:41 PM on May 3, 2007

You said no pellet gun, but how about a slingshot? We are using one to discourage some very noisy grackles in our backyard. No one has been hurt yet, but it is kind of fun to aim at them in the tree!
posted by rintj at 7:59 PM on May 3, 2007


UT uses customized shotguns.
posted by popechunk at 8:00 PM on May 3, 2007

Best answer: Get a model of an owl or a hawk and mount it on one of the tree branches. Crows won't go anywhere near it.

Or if you've got a deck, mount it on the railing of your deck. Easier and safer.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 8:03 PM on May 3, 2007

Best answer: Someone I know harasses them with a laser pointer. Also intermittent playing of a crow's distress call.
posted by Good Brain at 8:04 PM on May 3, 2007

I've seen apartment dwellers use a big fake owl on the balcony for this purpose.
posted by LobsterMitten at 8:05 PM on May 3, 2007

I've seen tinsel hung up to scare off birds, don't know how well it works.
posted by yohko at 8:18 PM on May 3, 2007

I reckon, you'll get used to it in time and tune it out. It's only because the sound is new, that you're paying attention to it. When I moved to my current house on the edge of a national park, I was repeatedly woken up at 5 AM every morning by the freakish calls of a flock of Sulphur Crested Cockatoos, which, I reckon was the most serenity shattering sound I ever heard. Now, I barely even notice it. Of course, if they are aggressive enough to bother you physically, it's another matter.
posted by dhruva at 8:35 PM on May 3, 2007

I used an airsoft rifle. Pellet is enough to annoy them, but not cause any injury (other than a quick ouchie).

It used to be very bad, because our nextdoor neighboor has TONS of birdfeeders. They learned, between the airsoft rifle and the lack of tasty birdfeed, that our yard wasn't worth it. Haven't had a problem since.

(And before I get MeTa'd for animal cruelty: I have had this rifle used on myself, and it's really not bad.)

posted by CitrusFreak12 at 8:40 PM on May 3, 2007 [1 favorite]

You can either shoot them or poison them (both bad) or scare them with an owl. Falconry is quite the different hobby.

If you do get the pellet gun, get a powerful one, as a crow is no easy mark. You want 1,000 fps plus and perhaps 22 caliber or higher
posted by caddis at 8:40 PM on May 3, 2007

Damnit. My brain didn't differentiate between "airsoft rifle" and "pellet gun." Sorry about that. But it IS effective.
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 8:41 PM on May 3, 2007

Crows hate sharp sudden noises. I've successfully ket them away by clapping two short (about 2 ft) pieces of 2X4 together. The loud (and it is loud, believe me) report sends them scattering.
posted by Neiltupper at 9:28 PM on May 3, 2007

posted by magikker at 9:30 PM on May 3, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks for all the good suggestions. Fireworks and firearms aren't really options in Tokyo (and would possibly annoy the neighbors more than the crows do), but I will definitely try the owl and the laser pointer, which is a really interesting idea. If all else fails, I'll investigate the non-lethal air rifle option. If only I could get my hands on an Active Denial System for birds...
posted by jgt246 at 9:31 PM on May 3, 2007

Response by poster: Love the Airzooka too!
posted by jgt246 at 9:36 PM on May 3, 2007

I don't know if it will work for crows but my dad used to have a problem with seagulls roosting on his boat. He got this motion sensor triggered water sprinkler that did a great job in getting them to roost elsewhere. If you can't use this then a powerful water gun might do the trick.
posted by frieze at 9:39 PM on May 3, 2007

Some birds get used to the owl thing and ignore it after a while. Don't know if that applies to crows but they are pretty smart.

Tinsel, well, actually 2-foot strips of red and silver mylar stapled to the house, worked miracles for my Dad when he had to keep away woodpeckers. The owl, which he tried b/c a friend lent him one, didn't phase them, btw. Dunno if it applies to crows.

I grew up surrounded by apple orchards and the farmers used recorded distress calls and automated gunshot noise generators to keep the crows away. I assume those work or else the farmers wouldn't have used them. Probably hard to do in an urban setting though.

Does Japan have an equivalent to the USDA Cooperative Extension program? That's who I call first for pest problems and they usually have good advice on options for control.
posted by Opposite George at 11:49 PM on May 3, 2007

Crows are damn smart, in my admittedly non-Tokyo experience. I think they'd see through a scarecrow. I 2nd a sudden, loud noise of some kind.

Just wait until one of their crappy nests bites it and takes one of their chicks with it. It's a racket fit to wake the dead. A baby crow fell out of the nest in our yard and the dozens of cawing, circling crows woke up all the neighbors and scarred our poor high-strung dog for life.
posted by crinklebat at 2:26 AM on May 4, 2007

Steven C. Den Beste said "Get a model of an owl or a hawk and mount it on one of the tree branches. Crows won't go anywhere near it."

WRONG. WRONG. Crows like to mob predator birds and drive them away. I've often been drawn to notice a predator because of the action of crows.

Once I was directed to an owl about the size of a fire hydrant sitting in the top of a very tall tree.
posted by MonkeySaltedNuts at 7:16 AM on May 4, 2007

I have heard that hanging surplus cd-roms by fishing line is effective in frightening away pesky birds...sort of a low-tech version of the laser pointer, I guess, as they move and reflect flashes of sunlight.
posted by Mmothra at 7:33 AM on May 4, 2007

MonkeySaltedNuts is dead right. I regularly see two or more crows aggressively driving off large hawks in my neighborhood. Crows don't fuck around; I've seen them follow large predator birds for a long time, until they've driven them far away from the crows' home.
posted by mediareport at 7:44 AM on May 4, 2007

Crows also will often mob owls much more fiercely when they find them in daylight than the hawks and other raptors. Frequently crows appear to "play" with hawks, taking turns "counting coup" while escorting the raptor out of their territory. Their attacks on owls, on the other hand, possess a definite serious quality.

Crow vs. Hawk

crows mob hawks results at Yahoo

Seriously, anyone who says crows "won't go anywhere near" owls and hawks doesn't know what he's talking about.
posted by mediareport at 7:52 AM on May 4, 2007

If you can't get rid of them, perhaps you could grow to enjoy them, cawing and all...crows are amazing to observe. From one of my favorite clips from the BBC documentary series, The Life of Birds, a video of Japanese crows using street crosswalks to crack nutshells.
posted by jamaro at 8:50 AM on May 4, 2007 [1 favorite]

Is someone feeding the crows? If so, ask them to stop. The crows will move on after they realize the free meal has disappeared.

My grandmother decided that she enjoyed feeding the crows in her later years. She'd go through a 50 lb bag of dog kibble for the crows each week. The trees around her house were black each morning with, I think, the entire city's crow population. The noise was amazing. For some reason, the neighbors never complained.

When Grandma was too unstable to carry the food out for them, Mom refused to keep it up. Mom had been trying to get the practice stopped anyway.
posted by onhazier at 9:04 AM on May 4, 2007

I've done the fake owl trick with pigeons before and it kinda, sorta works. The birds get frightened the first day or so and will eventually come back. Maybe 50% will come back. If you move the owl weekly it cuts down on this sort of thing but at best you're getting a 50% reduction in unwanted birds. Its worth doing, but I expected better results. Instead of cleaning up pigeon shit weekly I did it twice a month or so.

It turns out that the mentally unstable neighbors would pick through the garbage in the morning and then feed the birds whatever bread they found once they were done. No owl is more powerful than the promise of a free meal.
posted by damn dirty ape at 9:57 AM on May 4, 2007

Similar experiece as damn dirty ape: the fake owl helped reduce pigeons and other smaller birds, but not crows.
posted by scody at 10:19 AM on May 4, 2007

I had some success driving off crows using a million-candlepower spotlight like this one. The crows complained loudly, but were very uncomfortable in the spotlight, and soon left for good.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 10:54 AM on May 4, 2007

posted by Pollomacho at 12:39 PM on May 4, 2007

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