I’ve worked in a backyard bird feeding store for several years. The three most common things people ask me are how to get rid of squirrels, how to get rid of raccoons, and how to get rid of crows. The first two are actually pretty easy. Getting rid of crows, on the other hand, is a little trickier. The problem is that crows are so friggin’ clever. Smarter, actually, than a good share of the people I know. Prettier too. I know this doesn’t seem to speak too highly of those folks (contributers to this website excluded, of course), but darn: numerous studies have been conducted with crows, and these birds have shown the mental capacity to solve problems and even use tools.
So yeah, crows are impressively smart and crafty little devils. So what? Well, the smarter they are, the harder they fall. Especially if there’s food involved (which is oftentimes the reason they’re hanging around your yard.) They also happen to be very persistent and extraordinarily stubborn. Keeping this in mind, the best thing you can do to get rid of crows is to be even more persistent and more stubborn than they are. It’s the only way you’ll win. So read this article, buckle down, and start a stiff bird control strategy against crows.
Best Methods for Crow Control
Remove any food/water sources
As mentioned above, if you have crows hanging around your place, there’s a pretty good chance they’re there because you (inadvertently) lured them there with food. Remove all things that crows might find edible. This includes bird feeders/baths and dog and cat kibble and water dishes. You will also need to make sure to put all trash in tight-lidded trash bins. Crows can and do tear open plastic garbage bags. Unfortunately, they like compost too. Either cover it somehow or bury edible items under grass and leaf clippings. Keep an eye on what it is they’re eating; you may even need to cut down berry bushes and fruit trees.
Make loud and scary noises
Make the crow or crows return your sentiment of dislike. Every time you see them out there, make a racket and direct it towards them. Get out there and start yelling obscenities. Yeah, your neighbors will probably start thinking you’re a whack job, but who cares. Along with your yelling, clap your hands, bang pots and pans together, or set off fireworks. Above all, be consistent. Do it every darn time you see them, or it won’t work.
Set out devices designed to scare crows off
The most common of these, of course, is the scarecrow. I know it sounds dumb, but it works. Buy one or make your own and dress him in bright colors. Other good scary devices include fake owls and fake snakes. Some people even make their own crow deterrents by stringing up aluminum pie tins or blank CDs to flutter in the wind. Also, most bird and garden stores carry Scare Tape. This is nothing more than a spool of reflective ribbon that hangs and dances in the breeze.
Switch up your scare tactics
I simply cannot stress this enough. Crows are extremely smart. If you attempt to use just one of the bird pest control methods mentioned above, the crows plaguing your yard will quickly get used to your feeble attempts and realize that they are not in any real danger. The best thing you can do is to use as many tactics as you can. Don’t use them all at once, though. Use a couple different methods for a few days, remove them, and do something different. Switch things around and pick different locations. I know it sounds like a pain in the butt, and it is, but it’s better than waking up to crow-cawing every morning for the rest of your life.
Blow ’em away
Killing crows should always be left as an extreme last resort. While I do not condone this method, sometimes you do what you gotta do. Crows can be destructive. They’ll peck at things, poop all over the place, and sometimes even eat your garden. Crow hunting is legal in most states, and if it’s not the proper season but you can prove they are causing damage to your property, you can sometimes even get a special permit to kill crows. Just make sure to know the laws in your region. As far as the authorities are concerned, ignorance is not an excuse.
If you are uncomfortable killing crows or using strong firearms, hitting them with an air rifle like a BB gun is a viable option. It probably won’t kill the crow, but it will pelt it and encourage it to find a different home.
Crow Deterrents & Crow Repellents
Aside from the basic and relatively inexpensive things you can do for bird control, there are a number of products on the market that are designed to deter, repel, or remove crows completely. Granted, some of them are a little more costly, but if customer reviews are to be believed, they are well worth it. The following is just a small sample of a few of the most highly recommended of these.
Ultrasonic crow repellent
These systems are designed for outdoor, year-round use and use ultrasonic (you can’t hear them) sound waves to annoy, repel, and frighten a wide variety of birds, including crows. Look for Ultrason X. Sounds like a murder-robot, but actually isn’t. We’d recommend the Yard Sentinel Ultrasonic Repeller, sold by Amazon, should you go this route.
There is a school of thought that crows cannot hear ultrasonic noises, but there are others who swear that these devices work.
Bird netting is fantastic for folks who have issues with crows eating their gardens or berry bushes. It’s nothing fancy, but it works wonders. It’s easy to install (stakes and staples), is quite strong, and will last you many seasons.
Bird Xpeller Pro
This handy little crow deterrent works through the use of recorded distress signals. When crows hear the distress signals (actual recordings) they get the idea that your yard is an uninviting and unsafe place to hang.
Bird spikes, also known as mechanical perch repellents or roost stoppers, are stainless steel or polycarbonate rows of spikes that can be affixed to surfaces where crows have a habit of roosting. It doesn’t hurt the birds; it just makes it nearly impossible for them to sit in places where the spikes have been attached. You can get bird spikes from Bird-X at Amazon if you choose to go this route.
A crow trap can either be purchased or made at home. If you want to make your own, just Google “homemade crow trap” or some variation on the theme. You’ll find what you’re looking for. There really isn’t much to say about crow traps. They’re traps. They catch crows.
Further Crow Repellent/Deterrent Suggestions
CROW be GONE
This is a CD that uses natural nature sounds to deter crows. Apparently it works quite well. I’ve not used it myself but have run across a ton of happy user reviews.
Sounds tend to work pretty well on crows, so the theory that this could work is plausible. It’s only $19.95 and has a 30-day money back guarantee. What’s there to lose?
Crows and purple martins are not friends. Because crows have a nasty habit of eating eggs and nestlings, purple martins have developed a habit of banding together and chasing crows out of the vicinity of their homes. So, put up a purple martin house. Not only will they repel crows, they’re also very pretty birds.
No, I’m not talking about that stuffy little douche from the Wizard of Oz (see above). I’m talking about a fantastic little motion-sensing sprinkler. This will deter crows and repel crows by spraying them with a jet of water. Works great for the crows hanging out in your garden, by your compost, or in your bushes.
You need one with motion, though. Crows are smart enough to know if a plastic, still scarecrow is real or not.
Crows get startled by noise. Fireworks, like firecrackers, going off in close vicinity to the crows may chase them away. The key is to have fireworks with a loud pop or bang, the type that will get the cops called on if you if do them too late or too often.
Be sure that it is legal to both purchase and set off the fireworks, and know that your neighbors probably will think the cure is worse than the illness. However, it fireworks tend to send the crows packing to someone else’s yard.
Getting Rid of Crow FAQs
Are Crows and Ravens the Same?
No. Crows and ravens are related — and often times they are both loosely referred to as “crows”, but they are not exactly the same.
The crow has the distinctive “caw” sound that can come across as completely menacing. Ravens give off more of a “croak” sound, although their call can be pretty ugly-sounding, too. Ravens are larger, but crows are more common and widely-spread.
As far as getting rid of crows and ravens, ravens are a little easier to keep away because they tend to get startled more easily. So most of the tips we give here for crows will work on ravens. Crows are typically more feisty and aggressive, so it can sometimes be a tall order to keep them away.
Somewhat ironically, though, ravens are actually a predator of the crow. Makes sense, they are up to 50% larger.
What if the Crows are Way Up in Tall Trees?
Sometimes the crows like to settle in to quite tall trees, making it really hard to even get within 20 feet of them. They are smart that way.
In such cases, your best bets for getting rid of them will probably be using sound (fireworks or loud owl or hawk sounds). If you are in an area safe to do so, popping them with a BB gun (it likely will not kill them, just encourage them to leave) is another option…. but only if you know how to use air rifles and it is legal where you live.
Who are Natural Predators for Crows?
Mainly other birds. That is why a bird of prey scarecrow can be an effective way of deterring a crow. Crows are hunted by hawks, owls, and even their larger cousin, the raven.
Owls generally hunt crows at night. Hawks will get them during the day. Sometimes people are spooked by hawks, but they are generally beautiful birds to have around and they will keep your crow population down.
Do Crows Respond to Predator Sounds?
Crows generally respond to sounds. But, because they are so intelligent, they often figure out what is a recording vs. the real things. Having the occasional owl or hawk sound ring out might get rid of crows…. but ask yourself if the hawk sound is better or worse than the crow sound.