About us: We own the Wild Birds Unlimited nature shop in East Lansing, Michigan,
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Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Crows taking over feeder

I live in Presque Isle, Michigan and have started having problems with flocks of huge crows coming in and knocking down my bird feeders and taking all the seed.  I don't mind feeding them, but they are driving all the other birds away.  Do you have a suggestion?  Appreciate any help.

You didn’t specify what feeders or food you are using, but when you set the table the birds come. Crows don’t realize they are “bad” birds. In fact I love to watch how the crows interact with each other.

The American Crow Corvus brachyrhynchos is in the family of corvids, which includes both crows and ravens. Large flocks of crows are loud and can eat a lot. However, crows are some of the smartest birds on the planet. Their populations are just now recovering in mid Michigan from the first appearance of West Nile virus in the Western hemisphere in 1999. Their susceptibility to the virus made them a useful indicator of the West Nile activity. They are also useful in cleaning up road kill or garbage on the roads and can consume about forty thousand grubs, caterpillars, worms and bugs during a single nesting period.

The “good” song birds actually appreciate crows in the winter too. Crows announce loud and clear when you fill the feeder, if there is a predator nearby, and will defend their territory against incoming hawks.

However if you are supporting too many crows, there are a few techniques to reducing the numbers that visit your feeders.

Keeping the crows at bay

1) Change seed: Take away cracked corn or food scraps, their favorite foods. Switch to an all safflower seed diet for a few weeks. Squirrels, blackbirds, starlings, and crows don’t like safflower. It may take awhile for the other songbirds to accept the change but it is a favorite with cardinals and chickadees. And gradually the rest of the songbirds will switch over to safflower.

2) Change your bird feeders: Replace platform or hopper feeders with tube feeders, the Squirrel Buster Plus weighted perch feeder, or the upside down suet feeder. If the birds are unable to sit and eat comfortably they will probably move on to easier feeding areas.

3) Keep larger birds away from spilled seed: Since song birds knock seed out of feeders, limit access to spilled seed by placing rocks or shrubs beneath your feeders. Smaller birds will be able to hop in and out of tiny places, unlike crows.

4) Make the area more desirable for songbirds: Lots of trees will make them feel secure, as will the presence of a constant water source. Blackbirds and Crows prefer the open fields or yards.

I hope these tips reduce the number of crows at your feeders to an acceptable level. Thanks for the question.

Thanks so much for the information!  I don't dislike the crows and ravens, there is a large flock of both that are my neighbors, and I quite enjoy them.  We had a great horned owl that made its home in our willow tree this past winter and it was quite interesting to watch the different ways the crows would try to make it leave their territory.  Just recently they have taken over my yard, knocking down the feeders for the smaller birds in order to get to the feed inside.  And they run off the cardinals and blue jays and doves.  I think I will have to place more feeders for them so that they all can have food, I don't want any of them to leave.  I could do without them perching outside my window every morning however, announcing that they are ready to eat.  They don't stop until I come out and fill the feeders every morning.  And I am certainly spending a lot more money, but we do quite enjoy having them around.  Thank you so much for taking the time to respond to me.  I appreciate it.
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