Crows, Do Not Enter!

Jungle crow in Japan (photo from Wikimedia Commons)

In 2015 the International Coastal Research Center in Otsuhi, Japan figured out how to keep crows from pillaging their headquarters building.  With the advice of a crow expert they posted “Crows Do Not Enter” signs and the crows stayed away!  Here’s how it happened.

On 11 March 2011 the town where ICRC is located, Otsuchi, Japan, was devastated by nearly 30 foot waves from the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami. The photo below of the Kirikiri section shows how Otsuchi was wiped out.

Aerial view of tsunami damage in Kirikiri area of Otsuchi, Japan. 3 months later, 20 Jun 2011 (photo from Wikimedia Commons)

The International Coastal Research Center headquarters was severed damaged as well (the three-story building in the photo below).

Tsunami damage at Otsuchi, Japan, 4 days later 15 Mar 2011 (photo from U.S. Navy rescue operations via Wikimedia Commons)

The first two floors were wrecked, as seen in two photos from the ICRC website.  (Click here to see more photos of the damage.)

Tsunami damage to ICRC (images via ICRC Recovery website. Click this caption to see the originals in context)

However, by 2015 the local jungle crows (Corvus macrorhynchos) could not resist stealing the damaged materials inside the building.  During the nesting season they flew into the open building, ripped insulation off the pipes and carried it to their nests.  

To get rid of the crows the ICRC asked for help from Tsutomu Takeda, an environmental scientist and crow expert.  Rather than using scarecrow tactics he hung large signs on the pipes, visible from outdoors, that said “Crows Do Not Enter.”  

“Crows, Do Not Enter” signs at ICRC (photo from an ICRC article which is no longer online)

As soon as the signs went up the crows stayed away. This method was still working two years later when Mother Nature Network published the news.

Can the crows read the signs? No, but people can and when they do they look up to see if crows are in the building.  The crows hate it when people watch them stealing nesting material so they stopped doing it.

If the signs worked on jungle crows in Japan, perhaps they’ll work on American crows, too.  I wonder if our winter crow flock would stop roosting at the University of Pittsburgh if they put “Crows Do Not Enter” signs in the trees.  😉

(This post was inspired by MNN: Wild Crows seem to obey Do Not Enter signs, and a report from the ICRC which is no longer online.  Photos are from Wikimedia Commons, the ICRC Recovery Project website and the now-missing ICRC article. I encourage you to click on the captions to see the originals.)

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