This Season: Return of the crows in downtown Cedar Rapids

February reprieve may be in store

Crows fly around Greene Square in Cedar Rapids on Dec. 24, 2016. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
Crows fly around Greene Square in Cedar Rapids on Dec. 24, 2016. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — A not-so-welcome visitor has returned to downtown — a massive murder of cawing crows.

Chad Peterson, urban core maintenance supervisor with the Cedar Rapids Parks and Recreation Department, said the crows typically show up around late December and hang around until about February.

The crows, which flock together for warmth in large groups sometimes called murders of crows, leave a considerable mess in their wake.

“If you have the sidewalks lined with crow droppings, people use the trails through the parkways day in and day out,” Peterson said. “It becomes a safety and a public health issue.”

Peterson said Greene Square has been the area hardest hit this year, so the city implemented its standard — and admittedly a little morose — measure against the pesky birds; crow boards.

Former Cedar Rapids veterinarian Russell Anthony, who died this year, has been credited with bringing the crow board tactic to town.

Essentially, a crow board is a board with two dead birds nailed on — one feet up, the other feet down — placed in trees.


The sight of a dead crow — the birds typically are dispatched by the police department — is enough to keep live ones away, Peterson said.

Initially in December, six crow boards were placed in trees in the park, Peterson said. Another four boards were added Jan. 6.

“Once we got those extra four up in the troubled areas, we’ve seen a pretty good reduction in the numbers,” he said.

Warmer weather also may play a role.

“Once we get out of this warm stretch and it cools back down, we’ll see how effective they are,” he said.

Since the crows usually start moving on around February, he said, “we’re kind of in the homestretch on this issue.”

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