Dear Joan: I think it’s called a murder of crows, but maybe I just want to murder the crows.
Every year we get 40 or 50 crows eating breakfast on our roof and it drives Chrissie, our normally non-vocal Bichon Frise, crazy. The crows bring large, nut type husks the size of walnuts and use our roof as an anvil to break them open.
The pounding on the roof by so many crows sounds like we have a family of raccoons up there, and as you can expect, the crows don’t seem to get along with one another as they caw and chase each other non-stop, dropping the husks that then roll across the roof and accumulate in the rain gutters.
Poor Chrissie isn’t very happy with the knocking and pounding on the roof and neither am I, as I don’t know what kind of damage they might be doing up there. If I step outside and rap on the rain gutter with a long cardboard tube, the crows might take flight and the sky turns black for a few moments as they scatter, only for them to return 10 minutes later.
I’m guessing that the parents are teaching their youngsters how to hunt for food but do you have any ideas how I might discourage the crows from turning my roof into a Denny’s Grand Slam breakfast venue?
– Art Mayoff, Benicia, California
Dear Art: Keeping certain birds out of your yard is not an easy task, unless maybe you build a glass dome over your house, and then I think the crows might create another problem for you that would require constant window-washing.
There are devices you can attach to the eaves and ridge lines of your house, common roosting spots for birds, that are intended to keep them off. The bird spikes are just what the name implies – spikes that would make perching very uncomfortable. However, as the crows are doing more than roosting, they could continue to use your roof as a giant nutcracker.
You could hang Mylar ribbons and sparkly disks above your roof, but crows soon figure out those are nothing to worry about.
How about creating a place in your yard for the crows to use? You could build a platform, install large rocks or other hard surfaces to substitute for your roof. Place some bird seed and walnuts out to attract them to the spot. As crows seem to do exactly what we don’t want them to do, be sure to tell them they need to stay off.
Recently, I’ve written about the practice of hanging a fake, stuffed crow in your yard. Put it out at night, when the crows can’t see you, and the next morning, they’ll have a sort of memorial service for their fallen comrade and then leave the area.
It sounds bizarre, but readers who’ve tried it tell me it works like a charm.
Dear Joan: I have a walnut tree and the scrub-jays keep eating the walnuts. Any advice on keeping them away?
– Dave, Santa Cruz, Calif.
Dear Dave: A great many creatures love those walnuts and it’s difficult to keep them out of the tree. You can try netting, although walnut trees tend to be large, making netting difficult to impossible.
You can try hanging reflective tape, ribbons and disks, which won’t work forever but maybe long enough so you can harvest your own crop.
You might also offer them an alternative food source, such as shelled peanuts. – Tribune News Service/ The Mercury News/Joan Morris