Crows can scare away smaller birds, including robins, sparrows, and blue jays, due to their larger size, loud screeches, and territoriality. However, some other bird species, and certain man-made deterrents, can scare away an unwanted murder of crows.
What You'll Learn
- 1 Why Do Crows Scare Away Other Birds?
- 2 What Birds Are Crows Scared Of?
- 3 Ways to Deter Crows
Crows are highly intelligent birds that belong to the same family as ravens, jays, and magpies, known as the Corvid bird family. They are skilled hunters and often munch on garden pests, including grubs and caterpillars.
While crows can bring some benefits to a backyard ecosystem, factors such as their large size and territoriality often scare away smaller birds.
Understanding their nature and behavior will help deter unwanted crows without affecting other songbirds.
Why Do Crows Scare Away Other Birds?
Crows are louder, larger, and more territorial than most backyard birds and have been known to assert their size and dominance to defend their young and food.
This behavior is particularly apparent around water features and bird feeders. Crows can become extra protective and competitive for resources in areas where different bird species gather.
Size and Screech
If you’ve ever seen a crow in real life, you know they can be big and loud. According to National Geographic, the average American crow is about 17.5 inches long. This is much larger than most backyard bird species, so it’s no surprise that many smaller birds are scared away or intimidated by their larger size.
A crow’s loud and distinctive “caw” is unmistakable, especially when groups of them join in on the song. Compared to the light tweets of many other birds, the crow’s call can easily scare off quieter, more timid species.
Crows can be notoriously territorial. Their intelligent and vigilant nature means they’re always scanning for potential threats to their young, home, and resources. Not only will crows fight with other bird species, but they’re also known to fight within family groups for mates, territory, and other resources.
Needless to say, most small birds would much rather run away than challenge a crow to a fight.
Competition for Food
One of the most common resources that crows will fight over is food. In fact, crows will exhibit a similar level of aggression when defending a valuable food source as they would when defending their nest.
As scavenging omnivores, crows will sometimes eat other birds if they don’t have access to another preferred food source.
The competition for food doesn’t just end with other birds, however. Crows have also been known to sometimes chase humans who they’ve come to associate with food.
What Birds Are Crows Scared Of?
Before we move on, let’s remember to cut crows some slack. They’re highly intelligent, social birds who also have to worry about the occasional predator.
When it comes to survival, crows are far less likely to fight with birds that are bigger and more aggressive than they are. Even though crows have fewer predators and are often larger than most backyard birds, that doesn’t mean they can let their guard down completely.
Crows are not fans of larger birds, including owls, hawks, and eagles. These birds are specialized hunters who are usually faster and more aggressive than the average crow.
Let’s not forget about people. Even though the occasional crow will chase a human for some food or to defend its nest, crows still see humans as larger predators and are likely to run away from people unless provoked.
Certain Backyard Bird Species
The wild turkey, boat-tailed grackle, and pileated woodpecker are some backyard bird species that crows won’t often mess with. These species can easily out-fight the average crow with their greater strength, aggression, and speed. Most crows would rather retreat than risk injury from fighting these other larger birds.
Ways to Deter Crows
If you love hosting neighborhood birds in your yard but want to scare away an unwanted group of crows, you can take a few key steps.
Keep Smaller Feeders & Baths
Crows will hang around areas where they have regular access to food and water. Without these resources, crows have little reason to visit or nest around your yard.
If you have an unwelcomed murder of crows hanging around your property, scan the area for any crow-sized water pools or ample food sources you may have missed.
If you have a bird feeder or bird bath, consider their size. If it’s much larger than what your local songbirds need, it may be time to downsize to a smaller feeder and fountain that crows cannot access as easily.
Use Shiny Objects
Crows have eyes that are sensitive to shiny or reflective objects. Not only do these sparkly items hurt crows’ eyes, but the sounds that tinny or reflective objects make while waving in the wind can make crows anxious.
Try hanging objects like CDs, sparkly streamers, pie tins, aluminum foil, and mylar balloons from trees or posts around your yard where crows like to hang out. They’re likely to fly off and avoid getting close to these objects.
Hide Your Trash
Crows will often scavenge trash bins or dumpsters for food. Once you’ve placed your trash receptacle outside, remember to keep a lid on it so crows won’t start digging through your trash. To be extra secure, you can also move your trash bin to a closed-off area that would be difficult for crows to reach.
Limit Potential Perches
Another great way to deter crows is to remove dead tree limbs or branches in your yard. If you make it more difficult for crows to find a comfortable perch, they’ll be less likely to choose your yard as a place to roost and nest.
If your property is particularly popular with crows, try taking a weekly stroll around your yard to see if the crows have found a hidden branch or post to sit on. This will let you know which areas need to be cut.
Although crows often scare away smaller birds, plenty of tools are at your disposal to effectively and safely deter unwanted crows while maintaining a welcoming environment for other songbirds.
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I am Bryan Powell and I own BirdHour.com. I love bird watching; in fact, I have a parakeet of my own. I enjoy spending time outdoors and observing the natural world around me. This website is a means of sharing my passion for birds with others who may be interested in this activity.