A few months ago, I walked by the fountain in my front yard and noticed it had some debris floating around in it, namely a tail once belonging to an unlucky lizard. The water looked a little murky but nothing too alarming. I pulled out the tail, threw it away, and called it a day.
The fountain in my front yard is nothing huge, it’s simply a pot one would normally throw some plants in but I put in a pump, added water, and suddenly I had a lovely cascading water feature. It’s been in my front yard for a little over three years without incident.
A few days passed by before I checked my fountain again, and lo and behold, there were more bits and pieces of god knows what.
And because I’m sometimes lazy, especially when it comes to my fountain, I took my time getting around to cleaning out the pot.
On one magical Friday when I had some time on my hands (the pets were no longer vomiting/diarrheaing/requiring trips to the vet — yes, there’s an ‘s’ on trip, my car was fixed, the kids were in school, etc., etc., you get the idea), I grabbed my pink rubber gloves, a turkey baster, measuring cups of various sizes, a sponge, and a bucket and headed out to clean the fountain.
I put in my earbuds and selected a station on Pandora suitable for cleaning and got to work. For me, this kind of station has lots of disco from the 70’s.
Gotta get my funk on in order to get the junk out.
I bent down to survey the churning cesspool of water and caught of whiff — it smelled of blood and guts, like a chum bucket on a fishing boat on its 10th day in the sun. It was horrible. Exactly how many lizard lives had been lost in my one lone fountain? The world may never know.
I plugged my nose and soldiered on with the cleaning. It soon became apparent that I would only be able to use the turkey baster to get the fetid water out due to the size of the bowl.
Insert baster, draw out water, put in blue bucket, rinse, lather, repeat until gallons of water are removed. Time consuming monotony is an understatement but I had my music and I thought this would be the only time I’d have to remove all the water so it was worth the time expense.
Boy, was I wrong.
The fountain was soon clean enough and I replaced the blood soup with sparkling clean water from the hose and stepped back to admire my work.
There is nothing like basking in the satisfaction of a job well done.
I put everything away and threw out the turkey baster, the sponge, and the measuring cups. No way was I ever going to let any of those things come near food ever again.
I went inside to clean myself up and headed out afterwards to pick up my daughter from school.
Approximately two hours after I finished cleaning my fountain, I eased my car back into the garage, my daughter fully retrieved, and decided to check on my beautiful fountain because it’s rarely so clean.
What. The. Actual. Effe?
On the top of the fountain was a bunch of entrails belonging to some unknown animal.
I grabbed a stick and threw the body part into the garbage. I couldn’t believe that my fountain was already sullied after so much work.
Inside my house, I got on the computer and began the search for a solution to what I had gleaned was a crow problem. The crows, it seemed, had decided my fountain was a great place to dunk their food and keep it chilled and fresh.
The Internet is full of so many weird ideas about controlling crows and I was looking for the simplest. I watched videos and read numerous articles.
Apparently crows don’t like shiny objects glinting in the sun so I headed off to my neighborhood nursery, found an artistic ball to hang above the fountain, bought it, and installed it.
The next day? More body parts.
I asked for help with my hungry crows via the social networking site, NextDoor. The responses ran the gamut from shooting the crows with a BB gun (not exactly safe in a family neighborhood) to one person saying how lovely she thought crows were (not helpful). One gentleman suggested a fake dead crow which I had coincidentally just read about as a multi-pronged solution on the Humane Society’s website.
I decided to give the fake dead crow a try. I found one on Amazon, bought it, and waited for its arrival.
Prior to the delivery of the fake crow, I prepared for the next cleaning session by buying more rubber gloves, more sponges, several more turkey basters, and downloaded more music.
Instead of buying expensive cleaning supplies, I went to the .99 cent store where I proceeded to go batshit (crowshit?)crazy over all the things you can buy for .99. Needless to say, I didn’t buy just one turkey baster nor one pair of rubber gloves, I had to buy 5 of each cuz everything is so cheap. I don’t know what I’ll do with 5 turkey basters but I’m sure I’ll think of something. I feel an art project coming on.
On the day the fake dead crow arrived, I opened the box and it looked pretty convincing.
But would it work?
Once again I got out my cleaning supplies and got to work removing all the guts, the blood, the skin, and whatever else was in the fountain’s water. It didn’t smell as badly as before, but the turkey baster kept getting clogged due to the bits.
And once again the fountain was sparkling. I hoped it would stay that way for longer than a few hours. The additional burden of constantly monitoring the fountain was getting to me. It was slowly becoming an obsession.
I took the crow out of his plastic cover and decided to leave him lying on a pillar next to the fountain.
The guy from NextDoor who originally made the dead fake crow suggestion to me said this is what he did — he simply laid the bird on the ground. I decided to give it a try.
Others suggested hanging it upside down but I tried to imagine explaining a fake, dead upside-down crow hanging from a patio cover to my neighbors, and made the better-for-me choice. Can you imagine the texts I would have gotten?
A few hours passed and no body parts. I relaxed a little.
Twenty-four hours passed and I wondered, “Could getting rid of crows really be this easy?”
I tried not to think too positively in order not to jinx the experiment.
More days flew by (no pun intended).
And then a whole week of a clean fountain, and now a full month. Still nothing gross to see here. No more entrails found floating in the water but I have not yet felt safe enough to remove the fake dead crow to see what would happen. It’s nearly summer and the number of crows flying around seem to have multiplied.
So far, the crow lying next to the fountain has kept the crows away. Initially I moved him around every couple days in order to fool the crows but now that I think about that idea all the way through, a dead crow doesn’t move so…
For now, the fake dead crow is a part of my landscaping. I’m considering making a gravestone for him. #RIP
The gardener has seen the bird three times and hasn’t made a single comment, and the Amazon delivery people also have not made a peep (pun intended).
The goal of this story was to demonstrate that solutions to problems with nature sometimes exist that:
Don’t hurt the environment
Don’t hurt birds/mammals
Aren’t dangerous to people
Don’t cost a ton of time and/or money (the fake bird was $42)
Don’t involve a lot of time nor effort
All you have to do is look for the alternatives. They’re there. The only negative I can think of is that my neighbors probably think I’m weird for having a fake dead crow lying next to my fountain. But, if they only thought that I might be weird prior to the bird, now they definitely know.
There’s a lot of freedom in being seen as weird.
Stay tuned for my next experiment. I do have another that meets the above criteria for success.
P.S. I will not receive a dime of compensation from Amazon for any sales of fake dead crows. I am not a fake dead crow affiliate seller and will not make money from you on any of the products I recommended in the above piece.
The opinions expressed above are my own. The dead crow idea worked for me but you may need additional help for a larger sized yard. Crows are very beneficial for the environment and my only issue is that they chose to make a mess of my fountain far too often.
For additional information and ideas on crow control, consult the Humane Society’s website.