Crows are everywhere, and Sunnyvale is going to do something about it – The Mercury News

Every day at dusk, killing crows descend upon downtown Sunnyvale, covering the sky over the main strip in darkness like a dark cloud.

With shrewd precision he swooped from tree to tree, swooping over the heads of stunned diners at the outdoor tables on Murphy Avenue.

Like many Bay Area communities, the crow population in the city continues to grow. But in Sunnyvale, they have become such a nuisance that crows are now the second most common complaint Vice Mayor Alyssa Sisners hears from residents, right behind speeding drivers.

He and the city finally had enough birds.

So later this month, the city is launching a crow eradication pilot program. Which means a worker would point a $20 handheld laser at the crows, hoping to scare away the crows.

“I live in the city and my complex is closed to Caltrain tracks and so it’s a noise issue, but often crows that are immediately outside the apartment are a huge noise nuisance,” Cisneros said.

And, it’s not just crows’ paws that have some people at their wits end. Birds outnumber residents’ lawns throughout the city, roosting in trees throughout the night and leaving benches and sidewalks covered with feathers and birdsong.

Sunnyvale resident Ken Ibbs has noticed the city’s crow problem over the past decade—particularly cities where birds often pick up trash from trash cans. Despite previously working as a laser scientist, Ibbs recently discovered that he could use the tools of his trade to scatter crows from trees in his backyard.

“The reason it scares them is the same reason it’s useful to give seminars,” Ibbs said. “It looks very bright. Green is especially bright for things like crows. They have a lot of visual acuity.”

SUNYVALE, CA – JANUARY 7: Ken Ibbs poses for a photo in front of his home on Friday, January 7, 2022 in Sunnyvale, Calif. Ibbs and his wife are using a laser pointer to scare away the landing crows. at their house and backyard. According to Ibis, the mass killing of crows has become a nuisance in the area. (Anda Choo/Bay Area Newsgroup)

Sunnyvale isn’t the only city dealing with dark clouds of crows. There are complaints of crows everywhere in the Bay Area, and it’s not just people’s imagination. According to Matthew Dodder, executive director of the Santa Clara Valley Audubon Society, the crow population is also increasing.

“Where there are people, there are crows,” said Dodder. “The population is increasing because the human population is increasing.”

In Oakland, Golden Gate Audubon Society 2,543 crows counted During the last annual Christmas bird count in 2019 – an all-time high for the species, topped the previous year’s record. Before 2001, more than 150 crows were counted only once.

Dodger said Audubon societies get more calls about crows in the winter because their flocks are largest at that time.

“In the winter and in the fall when their nesting is done, they really rely on the protection of the group,” he said. “They’re watching for danger, they’re watching for intruders, they’re watching for eaves, so they benefit from that group dynamic.”

The crows have caused so much grief that some residents of the Bay Area have resorted to taking measures into their own hands. San Jose resident Alex Sorsey said his condominium complex in the Willow Glen neighborhood saw so many crows and pigeons last year that homeowners formed a “bird treatment committee.”

The association hired an hawk to install bird traps and spikes and netting on 12-15 condos, a remedial effort that came with a more than $50,000 price tag.

Sorsey said his biggest complaint with crows is the noise they make, which goes far beyond their scavenging methods.

“Luckily our trash is very safe so we don’t have that problem, but they can be found in grocery outlets and in the trash at the shopping centers next to us,” he said.

In Sunnyvale, Mayor Larry Klein said he has seen the problem get progressively worse in recent years.

“I think the biggest thing is if you can disperse them it’s not that bad, but we’ve had to spray-wash our Plaza del Sol park mainly because of the smell,” he said . “The remnants of their settling right now are just too intolerable and at a certain point pose a health risk.”

The city has already tried to disperse the crows using reflectors, but it only works with the sun during the day. City spokeswoman Jennifer Garnett said RiverRock, the company that manages the buildings next to Plaza del Sol, tried to use falcons to scare away crows.

“Crows are very smart, though, and come back once the deterrent is gone,” she said.

But according to the Humane Society, lasers have been successful in eradicating crows, and Klein said some residents are already using them to keep crows off their lawns.

It’s a tactic that animal rights non-profits describe as “human harassment” and cities such as Rochester and Trenton in New York have used them. other feasible solution The group suggests using crow distress calls, pyrotechnics and effigies of dead crows.

If the laser approach doesn’t work, the city can explore other options. But Cisneros is suspicious of the Humane Society’s alternative suggestions.

“I can’t imagine that our employees in Sunnyvale are going to come back with a pyrotechnics proposal,” she said. “It’s a surprisingly complex problem and something that we have had a lot of requests to solve.”

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