My story starts in our personal residence, where my wife had set up numerous bird feeders and birdhouses. Songbirds of all types began frequenting the smorgasbord, and we were able to identify them all. There was a birders’ group in our housing development, making our experiences something to share with neighbors.
Then we noticed that local crows had started to barge in on the peaceful dining the more desirable birds had come to experience. They were bigger, bolder and seemed to have greater appetites, grossly increasing our birdseed outlay while disrupting my wife’s hobby. Moreover, their voices were far from pleasing...particularly in the dawn hours.
As the man of the house, I offered to make the problem go away, and soon got permission to drive the crows out. My Gamo Whisper .177 pellet gun had proven itself on squirrels, so I began employing it on the crows.
I bagged the first one on a feeder by coming around the corner of the house and shooting from partial defilade. The uproar from the other crows started immediately. It seemed like there were over a dozen of them all yelling about the killing.
From then on it got harder. I could not leave the house without a sentinel crow giving the warning, and then all the other crows chiming in. Even a week later they would alert at the sight of me, all the time sending one or more crows down to eat while the others kept watch. Since they could see me outside, I opened some windows and bagged a couple shooting from inside.
Then I noticed that when we had meals and I was seated at the table, the crows would use the feeder stations freely, but if I opened a window and had my air rifle, they’d disappear. At the same time our walks around the neighborhood were accompanied by crows calling to each other at the sight of me, even up to 2 miles away.
I then found that from an upstairs bedroom window I had good shots at the sentinel crows high in trees. I removed the screen and opened the window about 6 inches, took up a supported position, and took out a sentinel at about 50 yards. My distance from the window must have muffled the noise, so it cost them two more sentinels before they figured out where my roost was.
Somehow the crows pieced together that if I went upstairs, they had to hide, so they would only come to the bird feeders if they could see me downstairs, or if the upstairs window was completely closed. They could see through the downstairs windows about 7 feet of the staircase, so by the time I arrived at the top they had scooted. This meant that I had to leave the upstairs window open a few inches all the time and keep that bedroom door closed. When there was crow activity, I could crawl up the 7 exposed feet of staircase, sneak into the back of the room and hope for a shot from a highly limited angle.
Towards the end I would only see one crow at a time, and I was down to a couple of crows in a six-month period. Now two years have passed without killing a crow, and there is no warning cry when I leave the house.
Crows are very, very smart. If you adhere to the “Fair Chase” rule espoused by the Boone and Crockett folks, this chase was more than fair. Although challenging, this was also humbling. Many times I thought about the word “birdbrain” and the simple question, “who’s smarter?” As with many game animals, it’s impossible to hunt crows and not gain a tremendous respect for them.