Controlling crows

I love birds, but crows are a nuisance. And while they do eat cutworms and grasshoppers, most people probably agree with me.

Ron Johnson is an emeritus professor at Clemson University. He says crows are smart and not easily frightened unless there is something that moves and is unpredictable, but noisemakers, pyrotechnics, or even high-pressure water can scare them away. Johnson says one of his favorite solutions is mylar tape.

"When you pull that out, twist it just a tiny bit and attach it at two ends, and if you can make one side bright-colored, maybe silver, and the other side a bright red or something, it reflects light. And when the wind blows, it wiggles back and forth and reflects light and it sometimes might hum with the wind," says Johnson. "Those things are unpredictable the way the light reflects, and it's scary."

If you have a hard time scaring away crows, try denying them their target. That would include covering a small garden or tree with bird netting. Crows love sweet corn, so when you see the silk turning brown, grab some paper cups or plastic bags, and cover the tops of the ears.

"What a bird will do, is they will perch on the side of the corn plant or the ear, and take their beak and pull from the top of the ear in little strips," he says. "That exposes the grain and they eat the grain. That damages usually the top part of that corn ear, and if you put a covering over it like a little paper cup or a bag, that prevents their access,  makes it more difficult or inaccessible, and the bird won't bother it."

It's worth noting that crows are a protected species under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Any plan for lethal control may require the right permits from state and federal agencies.