A Bear, some Crows & a few Dancing Girls

Recently we found ourselves scratching our heads as to what happened to our rows of seedling corn grown in our garden here on the Red Bird campus. One of our colleagues came to us shortly after and solved the mystery of the disappearing corn sprouts. A family of crows had apparently pulled it up and ate every last kernel. We had never had a problem with the crow population here on campus until we began to have a bear problem, but that’s another story for another day. The residents and workers began locking trash cans tightly and open dumpsters were removed from the grounds. This not only denied the bears from an easy dining experience it also took away a food source for the crow population.

A young tomato plant that was stepped on by a bear. It lived. 🙂

Bear track in the garden

Bear caught on a trail camera

So what do you do about corn stealing crows? Some of the ways suggested to deter them were far too harsh. It was suggested that we kill one and hang it near the garden. Nope. This will not happen as long as I’m here. Then the usual less murderous ideas began. One of my Grow Appalachia members who resides on campus has gone with the tried and true scarecrow. The trick with a scarecrow is that it needs to be moved and changed so that the crows don’t become unafraid of it. Since the photo was taken the scarecrows have changed positions. Hopefully with the gardener’s help. Scarecrow not only scares crows sometimes.

What most people don’t realize is how intelligent crows are. They are extremely intelligent and have shown problem-solving skills and the ability to make tools to help them achieve a task. Crows have the ability to recognize a human face and tell it’s family and friends about that person to the point that they recognize them. This is especially true if that person has been mean to the crow. Several studies have been done on this topic. Here is a web address referencing one article if you would like to read more on the subject. https://www.discovermagazine.com/planet-earth/grudge-holding-crows-pass-on-their-anger-to-family-and-friends

They also recognize when someone is nice to them. There is an article about a girl in Seattle who would often feed the crows part of her school lunch. The crows began to bring her gifts. This went on for years. The story is really amazing and I developed a new admiration for them since reading the story. I have included the web address. If you would like to read this amazing story. https://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-31604026

Corvus brachyrhynchos – American Crow

Crows live in family groups. Often the offspring for the previous hatching will stay with their parents and care for the next brood to be hatched. This helps the parents care for the new young while teaching the older siblings how to care for their own offspring someday.  Nevertheless, crows can be a problem in the garden. One method we have found very helpful is the hanging of old CDs. The shine and movement scare the birds away. I figure we will need to move them soon because I am sure they are starting to figure that trick out. We had something pull up one of our watermelon plants and toss it aside. Since hanging the CDs we haven’t had that happen again.

CDs hanging over the garden of a Grow Appalachia member.

CDs hanging in the Grow Appalachia garden at Red Bird Mission.


Scarecrows and Dancing Girls

I have several GA members that have opted to go the scarecrow route. Research shows that brightly colored clothing and realistic looking faces work best. So here are a few of the member’s scarecrows.



Other things used to scare crows are fake owls, recorded sounds of crows in distress, motion-activated lights, and mylar ribbon. Just remember, crows are very smart and your tactics may need to change frequently. So have some fun with your garden, whether it’s dancing girls, mylar snakes, or sound effects. Let the games begin.