Counting crows

By Josh Albrecht

At times, crows appear to be taking over campus, but a few, simple steps have been taken by the NIU grounds crew to minimize their presence.

Grounds superintendent Tom Anderson said inflatable balloons, which are yellow with the face of an owl, were put in trees near Parking Services and Founders Memorial Library because these were two spots plagued by the black birds.

“They’re used to frighten the crows away,” Anderson said. “Their droppings get pretty messy.”

The area hit the hardest by the crow droppings was the parking meter lot south of the library.

“There was droppings on the meters,” Anderson said, “which isn’t too great when you are trying to put money into them.”

Along with inflatable scarecrows and painted crows on the windows of the parking deck, an audible means of dispersing the crows also is used. The recording emits from the parking deck and is on a timer which goes off every few minutes during the day.

“It’s a sound device that makes the noise of predators that crows are afraid of,” Anderson said.

The grounds crew has used the devices for about two years after receiving complaints about the crows.

Rebecca Spotts, a parking service employee and a sophomore communication major, said a lot of people ask about the anti-crow devices at the beginning of the fall semester because people sign up for their permits outside and can see and hear the devices.

“I had to ask what it was,” Spotts said. “It looked like somebody lost an inflatable toy, but then they explained to me that they are supposed to be there.”

Spotts is glad the devices are used to help limit the amount of crows in the area.

“It is a good cause,” Spotts said. “I don’t like them because they scare me. They’re like vultures because they are around when something is going to die.”

Demeca Momon, a parking service employee and a junior FCNS major, said she, too, is frightened of the birds.

“I hate the sound of the crows because it reminds me of the movie ‘The Birds’,” Momon said.

Famous Crows

— Sheryl Crow – singer, famous for the song “If it Makes You Happy”

— Russell Crowe – Oscar-nominated actor for “Gladiator”

— Counting Crows – rock band, famous for songs including “Mr. Jones”

— The Black Crowes – rock band, famous for songs including “Hard to Handle”

— Cameron Crowe – Writer/director of “Almost Famous” and “Say Anything”

— “The Crow” – Brandon Lee movie about a man who comes back from the dead to avenge the wrongdoing of thugs

— Heckyll and Jeckyll – cartoon crows circa 1960.

— Cro-Magnons – early modern human beings who lived 40,000 to 35,000 years ago

— Jim Crow laws – segregation laws between the 1880s and 1960s.

— Adelaide Crows – Australian Football League team

— The Scarecrow – “Wizard of Oz” character who only wanted a brain

— Crowbar – WCW pro wrestler and a tool often found in sheds

Crow facts

Scientific name: Corvus brachyrynchos

Size: Height – 17 to 21 inches, Weight – 1 pound

Life expectancy: 10 years

Oldest one on record: 29 and 1/2 years-old

Family Life: Very social, lays four to six eggs

Intelligence: Possibly the most intelligent bird; have been known to use tools in daily activities

Diet: Crows eat anything

Predators: Owls, hawks, humans

Geographic location: Everywhere but New Zealand, Antarctica and South America

Other points of interest:

— often mistaken for ravens

— the Hawaiian crow and the Mariana crow are endangered species

— can’t determine gender by physical appearance