Crows

How to Identify and Get Rid of Crows

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Crows are intelligent, social birds but also they can also be raucous pests and cause damage to food crops. Learn about to identify, control, and prevent crows when necessary. 

The American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos) is very common across North American farmlands, fields, woodlands, shores, river groves, towns, and even cities. Crows will live in any open place where they can perch in a tree and have a good supply of food. It’s hard to miss their distinctive, “caw! caw!”

What’s the difference between a raven and a crow?

Crows and ravens are in the same genus (Corvus), and they have many similarities, but they are in fact different birds. Ravens are bigger and have shaggy throat feathers, while crows are smaller. Ravens also have wedge-shaped tails, while crows do not. Ravens soar more often than crows and sometimes do somersaults in the air. One of the main differences between ravens and crows is the sounds that they make. The call of a crow is a harsh, strong caw. The sound of a raven is a deeper, more throaty croak.

Learn more about crows and how they contribute to the ecosystem.

Identification

How to Identify Crows

Crows are large black birds with raucous calls and wide tails. Crows are very social birds, so you’ll probably see them in groups. When not nesting, crows may gather on roosts sometimes with thousands or even tens of thousands roosting in one grove. Did you know: A group of crows is often called a murder in literature and pop culture, but sometimes they are simply called a flock.

They are omnivores and opportunitiest, so they will eat anything: insects, spiders, snails, earthworms, frogs, small snakes, shellfish, carrion, garbage, eggs and young of other birds, seeds, grain, berries, fruit. This can be a good thing, as they will clean up dead animals, but when they are attacking your other feathered friends or your garden, they can be trouble.

Crow Damage

If your seedlings, such as corn, are being pulled up, chances are you have crows. Also, be aware of any chicks that go missing from bird nests in your yard or of any visitors to your garbage cans.

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Control and Prevention

How to Get Rid of Crows in the Garden

Here are a few tips for getting rid of crows. Try some of these methods for your garden:

  • Fruit crops can be protected with flexible bird netting. You can find some at a local garden center or hardware store. Four-inch mesh is recommended as it will keep the big crows out, but still allow smaller birds to slip through.
  • Place netting securely at the base of a shrub or the trunk of a tree. This keep crows out from the bottom of your trees. Nets can also be used for growing crops.
  • Use visual scare tactics. Shiny pie tins or CDs hung from trees, Mylar scare tape, Mylar balloons, scarecrows, and flags can all be used to startle crows. An old-fashioned scarecrow may also work.
  • Protect seedlings with covers. Corn can be protected by placing a cup or bag over each ear after the silk has turned brown.
  • Fishing line or cord can be placed in grid like patterns high above the garden to prevent crows from swooping in from above.
  • Crows are smart and will eventually learn that even Mylar balloons are no threat. Try changing the position of these items often enough to confuse the crows and keep them away.
  • Old folklore says that to make a scarecrow more effective, you should make its arms from hickory wood. If you build a scarecrow, be sure to move it around and change certain elements.

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Prevent Crows

  • Crows will kill the young of other birds. Prevent this in the first steps of nest box building: make sure there is more than six inches between the entry hole and the bottom of the box. Removing the perch or ledge under the hole will also prevent crows from having a stand where they can wait for young to peep their heads out.
  • Try using feeders that are too small for crows but big enough for small birds.
  • Check our other general advice for how to keep birds out of the garden.

See more about common garden pests and problems.

Plants Affected

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Signs of bad weather

Signs of bad weather approaching: The birds, squirrels, rabbits, etc. in my yard go on a wild eating frenzy! They all get along! Also, I get a terrible headache that no pain killer can ease and the school kids go wild (especially when there's a full moon)!

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