California town resorts to lasers to stop 1,000 pooping crows

    A suburban California town has become the site of a bizarre phenomenon in which Alfred Hitchcock would delight — and would revile ornithophobia sufferers.

    Over the past decades, Sunnyvale, a Silicon Valley town in northern California, has become the top destination for crows to roost — and it’s got to stop, Mayor Larry Klein has said.

    “The streets are basically riddled with crow poo,” he told the New York Times. The 23-square-mile community of Sunnyvale sees its roughly 1,000 crow residents wreak havoc nightly, only to disappear in daylight.

    “I’ll go inside unless I’m under an umbrella,” local Frank Hampton told CNN. “The city has tried everything to get the birds to find a new spot, but all success has been short lived.”

    In a plan loosely based on science, three city workers are being charged with nightly crow watch, in which they spend an hour beaming lasers and blaring sounds into the skies in hopes of disorienting and discouraging the birds from nesting.

    “The biggest thing is to harass them enough so a large percentage of them find new homes,” Klein explained. The cost of the operation includes the $20 price tag for the lasers — cheaper than hiring a falconer to fend off their crow population.

    “We have had a falcon previously, a hawk, but it has had limited success, and the crows return,” the mayor continued. “It’s a health problem we’ve had to deal with, and at the cost of the city, so if we have a cheap solution, there’s no reason to not try it, right?”

    Rochester, New York, tried a similar approach between 2017 and 2018 in hopes of displacing some 20,000 to 30,000 birds — to some success.

    Vice Mayor Alysa Cisneros suggested in a poll on Twitter that the town launch a “crow festival” if their efforts fail and the birds remain neighbors. More than 87% of the 452 voters responded “Yes I would come.”

    But they’d probably show up anywhere — just like the crows, according to ornithologist Kevin J. McGowan, who is dubious of the laser method. “They’re like teenagers and COVID,” he told the Times. “You can’t stop them getting together.”

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