PAWS Magazine

Issue 37, Spring 1998


Why wild animals do what they do

During the late spring and early summer we receive a flood of calls regarding two species of birds creating havoc in the neighborhood. The culprits are robins (America’s favorite bird, straight A’s, goody two-shoes type) and crows (the bird everyone loves to hate, Harley Davidson-riding-Hell’s Angels type.) The robins are repeatedly flinging themselves against people’s windows and the crows are dive-bombing every person and pet in sight. It’s the classic tale of good bird gone bad and bad bird gone badder. But seriously, there are simple reasons for these behaviors, and the solutions are not so difficult.

First, let’s examine the robin behavior. During the nesting season, the robin sees himself in the reflection of the window and thinks he’s seeing another robin. Determined to drive the intruder out, he flies into the window, over and over again, as many homeowners will attest.

Solution: Cover the outside of the windows temporarily with something like fabric or newspaper. It usually isn’t enough to just draw the drapes or cover from the inside. Soon the robin will forget all about it and go back to more important spring pursuits like attracting a mate and building a nest.

Crow behavior is equally understandable. Fledgling crows often spend several days on the ground practicing when they are learning to fly. The adults (like any good parents) are determined to protect their young and to this end will attempt to scare away predators (this means ourselves and our pets) by swooping down very close to our heads. It is rare for one to actually make contact and wouldn’t really cause injury if it did. The whole show is designed to shoo you from the area.

Solution: Keep your pets inside (especially cats). Simply ignoring the crows is usually enough. Try to stay away from the area they seem to be particularly upset about, such as that certain rhododendron bush. And if it’s not possible to stay away, take heart, within a week the young crows will be flying and peace will return to the neighborhood.

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