Do Scarecrows Really Work?

Evelyn Long

Aug 26, 2022

scarecrow scaring birds away

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People have utilized scarecrows in some form for thousands of years. Farmers used them to keep crows and birds away from the crops they like to snack on. Now, these soft statues are more than just a tool. Scarecrows symbolize fall and are used as decorations to get people in the spirit of the season. They’re fun to create, but do scarecrows really work? Or have they always just been used as a symbol? 

The Birth of the Scarecrow

The first known use of a scarecrow-like device happened in ancient Egypt. The Egyptians would hang tunics along the Nile to prevent quail from swooping in on the crops there. 

In Greece, the people created wooden statues of the fertility god Priapus to scare away birds from entering their fields.

Beginning in pre-feudal times, Japanese farmers used kakashi to keep sparrows from entering rice fields. At the end of harvest, they burned them in the fields. 

In some Native American tribes, men would sit on raised platforms and yell at the birds if they tried to approach. In the Middle Ages, kids would act as “crow-scarers” and run through the fields clapping bricks together to scare birds away. After they lost many children to the plague, the farmers stuffed old clothing with straw and used a gourd or turnip to make a head for the body. They then mounted them in the fields. 

Scarecrows made their way to North America in the 15th century. During World War 2, farmers began using scarecrows and pesticides to keep animals from eating their crops. 

They are still used as an animal deterrent, but do they work?

Are they Effective?

Over time, farmers discovered that stationary scarecrows weren’t adequate for very long. After a few days, crows realize that the scarecrow doesn’t move and isn’t alive. The scarecrow may deter other animals, but they don’t stop their namesake from eating crops. 

Modern scarecrows are more effective at keeping crows and other animals at bay. Farms utilize drones to keep birds from entering the airspace above fields. Some use robotic birds that can fly like falcons to keep others away. 

Other Deterrent Devices

Throughout the years, farmers and engineers have developed more modern and effective ways to keep animals away from crops.

Farmers now also use sonic cannons that mimic the sound of gunshots to keep crows away. For birds, gunshots mean danger, so they’re unlikely to stay in the area. 

In Japan, the Super Monster Wolf Robot deters many animals with its menacing appearance, flashing eyes and howling. The robot has different howls, so the animals don’t adapt to the device. 

Sprinkler systems work well to water plants but can also chase away animals. Motion sensors can detect unwanted movements and aim the sprinkler to spray any animal visitors, scaring them off the property. 

The invention of new devices has led to less scarecrow use on farms. It’s safe to say their primary purpose is decoration. 

Using a Scarecrow

If you have a scarecrow in your field, you don’t have to throw it out. You can still use them to deter animals for a few days if you need to do maintenance or repair work on another device. 

Scarecrows are a fun fall symbol that the whole family can make and display together. With some old clothes and stuffing, you can inexpensively create a friend to last through the fall.

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