The village soon will begin dispersing a massive roost of the black birds.
CLIFTON SPRINGS — To put it mildly, the flocks of noisy crows that come home to roost close, too close, to her home in the village are a nuisance, according to Pam Cloonan, who every night has to listen to their caw cacophony.
The crows don’t keep her up at night, although that may be because it’s cold and no one is sleeping with their windows open anyway. And they haven’t swooped down and attacked anyone or anything, although Cloonan likes to walk her dog — and they caw every time they walk by.
But the birds do leave in great numbers every morning in a great flourish. And when they return at the end of the day, the sky fills with the large black birds, darkening the tops of bare-limbed trees. The scene calls to mind a certain horror film by master director Alfred Hitchcock — you know the one.
“It’s like the movie, ‘The Birds,’” Cloonan said.
The crows, which number anywhere from 5,000 to 10,000, are hard to handle, because they’re loud and because they make their mark, and not in a good way, around the village.
That’s why Cloonan and others would like to see the crows moved someplace else.
Starting Tuesday night, the village and biologists with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Wildlife Services, will be using pyrotechnics, spotlights, lasers and amplified electronic recordings of crow distress calls to get them out of Dodge. The initial phase is expected to end Friday morning.
Noise is an issue, but so are waste and the damage to trees and rooftops the birds have caused, Village Clerk/Treasurer Lori Reals said.
At dusk, the crows begin to roost, and they particularly seem to enjoy a wooded area behind the Clifton Springs Hospital and Clinic and G.W. Lisk parking lot.
They also flock to trees in the area of Broad and South streets and on a Friday the 13th night, the crows swooped in and filled the treetops near the First Baptist Church on Prospect Street.
The crows were first called to Reals’ attention a few weeks ago, but they were fewer in number then.
“It keeps getting larger,” Reals said.
They are the talk of the town.
Sandy Landuyt, who owns Sandy’s Floral Gallery in the village, said she understands why the birds are a nuisance. They are loud.
“I hear them more in town and I live in the country,” said Landuyt, of Seneca Castle, who first began to notice the large numbers around Christmastime. “I’m like, ‘Oh, wow!’ I’ve never seen that many.”
Others are not bothered by them.
Midlakes ninth-grader Jason McMillin, who lives in the village, said he notices the crows. Then again, you can’t help but notice them, particularly as he and a group of friends walked down Broad Street.
“There’s a lot of them, like I mean a lot of them,” he said. “They don’t come down and bother me.”
A website managed by Kevin J. McGowan, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, and devoted to providing answers to frequently asked questions about crows, said roosts are common, although several theories explain why the birds might move into cities or villages. Hunting restrictions, prohibitions on the use of firearms within municipal borders, warmth, artificial light and lack of predators all may play into it, according to McGowan’s website.
The dispersal efforts, which will continue throughout the week before ending Friday night, are intended to break up the large roost and force them into smaller groups that spread out over a broader area, village officials said.
The end result is less damage and mess, officials said.
And perhaps peace of mind.
The harassment methods will produce loud noises and flashing lights similar to sirens and fireworks, village officials said, but won’t harm the crows.
The issue of massive crow roosts is not unique to Clifton Springs. The cities of Rochester and Auburn have tried dealing with the issue in recent years.
“We will be happy for them to move on,” Cloonan said.
The village of Clifton Springs and USDA wildlife biologists will be using pyrotechnics, spotlights, lasers and amplified electronic recordings of crow distress calls to move a large winter roost of crows from the village.
Management efforts begin around 5 p.m. Tuesday and continue throughout the night. The initial phase will conclude at approximately 7 a.m. Friday, Jan. 20.
These techniques may be disruptive and the village urges residents to cooperate. For information, call the village at 315-462-5151 between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.