It might seem that way at this time of year. You walk out of your house. You hear the familiar loud "caws" of agitated crows. Before you know, it you find yourself ducking feathered attackers and feeling like you are caught in a scene straight out of a Hitchcock movie.
Being dive-bombed by crows is a much more up-close and personal interaction than most of us ever experience with wildlife. If you don't understand the reason for their agitation, it might seem like the crows are intentionally singling you out; like they are acting on some very personal grudge they hold against you. In reality though, no matter how afraid you may feel when being swooped down upon by the crows, the birds are even more terrified of you. They are terrified because their young are nearby, and they believe that you might be capable of making a meal out of their babies.
We receive dozens of phone calls at this time of year from people who are having stressful interactions with crows and their families. And it is stressful being mobbed, especially if you don't understand why it is happening. There are two important things to keep in mind to put this situation in perspective: First, the crows are only trying to move you a safe distance away from their babies. Second, the crows won't hurt you. Sure, they can make themselves seem very fierce, but this game is about intimidation, not physical harm.
If you want to avoid those unnerving low passes that the crows make when they are most agitated, you'll want to give their young a wide berth. Of course, you'll need to first identify the young crows so you know which ones to avoid. Take a look at the photos below. The top image shows an adult crow that lives here on the PAWS campus. The bottom photo is one of that crow's fledgling young.
Note that the adult has dark-brown eyes and a completely black beak. The fledgling has blue eyes and a beak with pink "gape flanges" at the corners of his mouth. If you keep your distance from the blue-eyed crows with the pink gape flanges, the adults will keep their distance from you. The closer you get to the youngsters, the bolder and more agitated the adult crows will become. So even if you don't see the fledglings, you will know they are there by the behavior of the adults.
If you would like to learn more about crows, as well as how to avoid conflicts with them, check out our online crow fact sheet. You can also give us a call at 425.412.4040. We're always happy to help answer any wildlife-related questions you may have.