Crows are a member of the Corvid family of birds. These highly intelligent birds also include ravens, jays, and magpies. They can be a real nuisance if you allow them to get too comfortable on your property!
Scaring crows away can be a real challenge because of their heightened intelligence as they will easily figure out most conventional tactics and continue to come back. However, you can effectively scare crows with decoys, bird spikes, bird gel, repellent sprays, bird netting and shiny deterrents.
So, just how do you use these methods to repel crows? We’ll discuss various methods of fooling these pesky feathered fiends! Let’s get to it.
What Are Crows Afraid Of?
Crows are afraid of all things new and predators. However, their intelligence also makes them very adaptable, so many things that once worked to scare them will quickly become nothing. Scarecrows, for example, have turned into nothing more than fall decorations.
Scarecrows lost their effectiveness and now crows will even use them to roost on. Crows even investigate other dead crows to discover why they died so they can avoid the cause.
If you have ever watched mockingbirds, chances are you have seen them chase a crow or two. These birds are super territorial and will chase birds twice their size if they get near their nests. So you could say crows fear mockingbirds.
Humans also scare crows, which makes sense considering we are their biggest predator. Sometimes, people are just downright mean to animals, and crows are no exception.
Crows even hold grudges against humans who have wronged them, and they pass them down through generations. They will mob these people too, which is when a group of crows attacks a threat.
Natural predators are another thing crows fear. Using decoys seems to help until they realize the decoys are fake, and moving them around will help prolong the inevitable. Another option is placing an owl house up to attract owls to your yard and deter crows.
Do you know something crows are not afraid of? Ants. They bathe in ants, which is odd. They do this for parasite control, although they may either get drunk off the acid the ants produce or they enjoy the feeling.
Crows also have some common natural predators and enemies as well.
How Do You Scare Away Crows And Not Other Birds?
Well, this here is a million-dollar question. Crows are birds, so almost everything you can do to deter them will also chase away other birds. Sadly, it seems to be a lost cause.
What is that saying? If you can’t beat them, join them.
Since crows are so difficult to get rid of, it may be easier to learn to live with them. There are many ways to make life around crows very pleasant and you may learn to love these birds just like you would a songbird!
Feeding the crows will help deter them from raiding nests and garbage. Crows love a variety of foods, including corn and mealworms! This makes them very easy to feed.
Be aware that when feeding crows, you will eventually have a ton of them coming to your house for snacks. This is because they communicate with each other. So prepare to be the crow hangout of the neighborhood!
In fact, befriending crows comes with benefits. Crows hold grudges, but also remember those who are kind. They will often bring gifts to people they like and feeding them makes you top on their list!
To help prevent crows from raiding nests, consider a birdhouse. A birdhouse will help because each species needs a specific hole size and mostly crows won’t be able to enter.
If you’re interested in learning more, read our guide on how to keep crows away from birds nests here.
How Do You Get Crows To Go Away?
Crows are very complex birds, and because of their heightened intelligence can be difficult to discourage! They also hold grudges, so be careful in how you approach deterring them.
Here are a few things you can use to scare crows away:
- Bird spikes
- Bird gel
- Repellent spray
- Bird netting
- Ultrasonic machine
- Shiny bird deterrents
While effective, these solutions are most often only temporary. Crows will quickly realize there is no real danger and come right back.
You can use various decoy predators such as hawks, owls, or even dead crows to help deter them from staying around. Crows would like to feel safe, so making them think there is a predator is the best way to keep them away. This one called Plastic Owl Scarecrow Sculpture with Rotating Head for Garden Yard Outdoor works great because the head moves and makes it seem much more realistic.
Scarecrows are a thing of the past! This is because crows pass down knowledge, so they know scarecrows are not people.
Bird spikes work on buildings to help keep birds from roosting. They make it painful for birds to land and thus prevent birds from roosting. Crows need places to roost to call somewhere home.
Bird gel is a transparent sticky gel that is used to deter birds from landing. They dislike the stickiness from the gel and will not land where it is. It needs to be reapplied, so if you are not diligent, it may not work.
You can purchase it at most pest supply companies under the name Bird-X 54-1 Proof Bird Repellent Gel. This gel is non-toxic and just annoys the birds. All you need to apply it is a standard caulking gun.
Various repellent sprays are on the market. However, you could also use things such as coyote urine to help deter crows. The only issue is they rarely work as well on birds as they would on something like a deer.
Bird netting can cover things the crows may eat in your garden. These nets work by excluding birds from the area, but be careful as birds and other animals can become tangled inside the netting. Nobody wants to harm innocent animals, so this is something to take into consideration.
Ultrasonic machines can be wonderful for deterring birds, but they aren’t my favorite method as they can be unreliable in the long run.Take a look at our guide, the 5 Different Noises That Crows Hate, here to learn more.
Contrary to popular beliefs, crows dislike shiny objects because they mess with their vision. Adding shiny tape or pie tins around your property can help keep crows and other birds like hawks away. This can be good for people with animals like chickens, who do not want hawks killing their chickens or crows stealing the food.
You can purchase these shiny strips at most hardware stores or something like the BATTIFE 12 Pack Pre-Assemble Sparkly Reflective Pinwheels. These will move in the wind and that will only increase its effectiveness!
What Scents Do Crows Hate?
While crows have a sense of smell, they cannot smell as well as other animals. They still do have sensitive respiratory systems because of their anatomy. That being said, strong smells deter them.
- Clove oil
- Peppermint oil
- Lemon oil
Clove oil is ridiculously strong. It is also numbing if added to the skin and is often an ingredient in many repellents.
Peppermint oil tingles our nasal cavities and can become irritating to the birds and will eventually chase them off.
Cedar is actually bad for all animals. Even though it is sold as pet bedding, you should never use it for your animals. Using cedar may chase away crows, as they will not want to be irritated by the dust and smell.
Garlic is another irritating, pungent smell. This burns our nasal cavities and irritates crows as well!
Lemon can also be very strong and may help to deter crows from staying around!
Some make claims that using cayenne pepper will deter crows. However, this is false and a fun fact about birds is they cannot taste capsaicin, which is the compound that makes peppers hot. Therefore, it gets added to some birdseed because it will deter squirrels from eating it.
Commercially made deterrents are on the market, like Bonide (BND238) – Repels-All Ready to Use Animal Repellent. This repellent contains many ingredients like clove oil and it will repel more than just birds, so it is worth a shot!
The blood in it may be counterproductive as crows eat carrion or dead animals.
All this being said, scent deterrents are not the best option on the market.
Keep Crows Off Your Roof
Crows being on your roof can be very annoying. Not to mention them pooping on your walls! While crows as neighbors can be difficult to deal with, crows as basically roommates are just unpleasant!
These birds will perch on your roof and caw incessantly. The sound can be annoying, especially if you are at home and trying to enjoy your day reading or watching shows.
If this is a problem you face, you are in luck! Bird spikes are wonderful for this issue because you can place them on buildings where birds may attempt to perch. These spikes make it uncomfortable for the birds to land and they will leave.
Crows can and will peck holes in your roof. This can cause awful damage and considering the price of a new roof, it is very justifiable to not want your roof to be invaded by these flying fiends!
Another thing you can try is spraying them with a hose. Do I advise it? Well, be careful. If they decide to hold a grudge, you may have a much bigger issue than roof crows.
If you’re interested in repelling other birds, read our guide on the best bird spikes for small birds here.
What Do Crows Eat?
Crows are opportunistic omnivores. This means they eat a varied diet of whatever they can find. This is great for them, not entirely great for us.
Crows will eat your garbage and make a mess. You can spot them in landfills picking through garbage for tasty snacks. They also love compost piles.
Preventing these birds from scavenging your trash and compost is easy. You need to keep everything covered. If there is not a lid, they will get in.
Crows also eat carrion, which is a dead animal. They will often pick at roadkill and other already dead animals. This is a great reason to not poison pests like rats because other animals sometimes eat them afterward and if they are contaminated, it can harm the next animal.
Another cool thing crows do to eat is they will forage for nuts. I know what you are thinking, how does a crow crack a nut? Well, they do not have hands or powerful beaks, so they take these nuts and put them in the roadways.
These crows are so smart they take a nut and use cars to crack them! They often use tools like this to solve their problems. They also will have a group effort to steal clams from otters!
The biggest complaint many have about crows is how they destroy crops and gardens. This is true, but you also have to realize that these birds are just searching for an easy meal and agriculturally grown crops are easy for them. Farmers can help deter these birds by using shiny objects and sounds.
Another issue with crows is they seem to attack lambs often. This has been a long-term dilemma farmers have faced, and it has only gotten worse as corvid numbers rise. Crows often will mob lambs to gain a meal.
A way for farmers to combat this is livestock guardian dogs such as the Great Pyrenees. These dogs will help by chasing the crows off since they are incredibly protective of their flock!
It is important to realize that we as people are living among animals who our lives impact. Crows just happen to be rapidly adapting to the destruction of their habitats by learning to live among us.
Do Crows Talk?
Crows have a big brain compared to their body size. This makes them highly intelligent! Crows have high verbal skills and have 15 to 33 vocalizations!
Understanding that crows have excellent communication and their own languages makes forgiving them for their loud cawing much easier. They do not have cellphones to share the news with each other so they caw.
They talk with each other for a plethora of reasons. Food, shelter, and any potential threats are at the top of the list. These birds use their variety of vocal cues to tell each other important information.
This puts them at about the same intelligence as chimpanzees and they can even learn to mimic human language as well! Just like parrots, these birds can learn to speak human words and while it is just mimicry, their ability is impressive!
Crows are also monogamous and typically mate for life. This is only seen in a few species other than humans and is very interesting.
Wrapping It Up!
Overall, crows have quickly become top on my favorite bird list!
Crows are very intelligent, and this makes them nearly impossible to scare away! Though there are things you can do to help scare them off, they are highly adaptable. This may be a challenge you face while deterring them.
Learning to live around crows seems to be your best bet at dealing with them. Try the methods in this article, because even temporary relief is a plus. If you are having serious problems with crows, contact a professional for further assistance.
Bluff, L. A., Weir, A. A., Rutz, C., Wimpenny, J. H., & Kacelnik, A. (2007). Tool-related cognition in New Caledonian crows. Comparative Cognition & Behavior Reviews.
Emery, N. J., & Clayton, N. S. (2004). The mentality of crows: convergent evolution of intelligence in corvids and apes. science, 306(5703), 1903-1907.
Holzhaider, J. C., Hunt, G. R., & Gray, R. D. (2010). Social learning in New Caledonian crows. Learning & Behavior, 38(3), 206-219.
Richner, H. (1992). The effect of extra food on fitness in breeding carrion crows. Ecology, 73(1), 330-335.
Zack is a Nature & Wildlife specialist based in Upstate, NY, and is the founder of his Tree Journey and Pest Pointers brands. He has a vast experience with nature while living and growing up on 50+ acres of fields, woodlands, and a freshwater bass pond. Zack has encountered many pest situations over the years and has spent his time maintaining and planting over 35 species of trees since his youth with his family on their property.
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