What Happens When Crows Overrun a City?
The city of Sunnyvale, California, has finally declared war on the unwelcome visitors that have been hanging around the town plaza: crows. The flock (technically known as a "murder" of crows) is estimated to contain over 1,000 birds. They have been a nuisance for years, particularly around sunrise and sunset.
Residents have complained about the aerial defecation, which is turning sidewalks and streets white – and costing the city thousands of dollars to clean up. Their loud cawing begins well before sunrise, they routinely scavenge through trash, and people dining outdoors are reportedly being “dive-bombed.” It’s just too much, residents say.
In response, the city recently launched a counterattack, hanging crow effigies and using green laser pointers to discourage them from gathering in the downtown area. The goal is to peacefully shoo the birds away, and ultimately encourage them to disperse and relocate.
The creative plan hasn't been without controversy, though. Although the Humane Society of the United States says that lasers are a good way to shoo them off, the local Audubon Society is less enthusiastic, warning that lasers could potentially blind the birds.
Keeping tabs on crows:
- Sunnyvale has previously used light reflectors, which were only successful during the day, and falconry, which didn’t work at all.
- Sunnyvale isn't the only urban area plagued by crows. In the winter, as many as 30,000 crows descend on Rochester, New York. The city uses flashing lights and bird sounds to deter the crows from flocking together.
- Crows are very intelligent. Some have been known to make and use tools, solve puzzles, and even recognize human faces. Their intelligence may make scaring them away much more difficult.
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