St Croix River Road Ramblings

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Monday, December 17, 2012

Nothing to Crow About!

Letter to the Editor—Rochester MN Post Bulletin

Crow Migration

Over the past few weeks, I have noticed an increase in crows visiting my bird feeders a few miles west of Pine Island. We had 4 or 5 each day in November.   This week we have about 30 coming in several  times a day. I wonder if they are refugees from Rochester’s crow removal efforts?   We have wooded areas, fields, and nearby is an unharvested corn field, so the crows have food, shelter, and an interesting neighborhood.    They stop here to pick up gravel  from the driveway and to clean sunflower seeds from under the feeders.   They seem to be enjoying living in the country.  Our feeders are in the garden so the crow droppings are welcome here too.

Russ Hanson

Pine Island,MN

Rochester to Chase Crows from Downtown!   (read the latest news about the Crow Problem)

Pioneer Press Photo and link 

Every day here at the top of the big hill west of Pine Island, we have 30-50 crows stop in our yard, right in front of the house a few times each day to forage under our bird feeders and to pick a little gravel from the driveway.  They scare away the squirrels and other birds for a short time, but are so wary, that just Margo or I getting  up from our chairs viewed through our big windows is enough to scare them into flight.  When I try to take a photo, they disappear!

In November, and over past years, only a handful have stopped by.  Our yard has many large trees and there is about 8 acres of mature hardwood forest immediately behind the house; with farm fields surrounding the island of woods and then more woods nearby on the steep slopes leading to the two branches of the Zumbro River meeting in Pine Island and forming the two valley parallel valleys to the west. 

Dennis, our neighbor, has 20 acres of unharvested corn across the road, a stop for the crows each day too.  His harvested bean field next to our yard is again mostly bare after the snowmelt and rain this weekend, and had scatterings of soybeans on the ground that the crows glean, like Ruth, following the harvesters. Rochester, MN had a crow problem for the past several years.  The downtown area became the winter home to thousands of crows, overnighting in the large trees near the Mayo Clinic campus and other downtown businesses.  The theory was that the downtown was warmer, and that some food was available, so the crows moved in.

They were deemed a nuisance because of the heavy crow dropping slicks covering the downtown sidewalks each morning, some in the summer and much worse in the winter when the drops, splatting out half-dollar sized gray/white frozen ice slicks; so thick they made whole sidewalks dangerously slippery for all the Mayo patients and employees hustling through the area. 

Patients are mostly herded through the skyways and walkways and unless they took an outdoor shortcut, or wanted to view the summer profusion of flowers from Mayo’s extensive downtown landscaping efforts, weren’t terribly bothered.  However, Mayo employees, always running late and always in a hurry use the outdoor routes, and were offended by the mess.

So, recently, after many other efforts including cutting down a beautiful old trees, a company came in to scare them away using laser lights shined into the top of the trees, to scare away the crows. It seems to be working, at least at first scarification efforts. Crows are very intelligent, so one can see them adjusting in the long run, but for now, I think my newly arrived crows are refugees from Rochester.    


Crows Flying into Downtown Rochester

Rochester Sidewalk Cleanup

Crows Roosting

More Crow photos and info Rochester