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Crow Control

Carrion Crows (Corvidae) are large black members of the corvid family. They feed on insects, grubs, berries, carrion, frogs and snails.
Carrion Crows supplement their diet in the breeding season by raiding nests of birds and eating the eggs and chicks.
They are considered to be a major predator of ground nesting birds such as lapwings, partridge, waders, pheasant, duck, pippits and skylarks.
They are well know on sheep farms for removing the eyes of live sheep and lambs that are immobilised through illness or constraint in brambles etc.
Best controlled by Larsen Traps in the spring.

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Crows, like all other wild birds, are protected under the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981 and the Wildlife (Northern Ireland) Order 1985. This makes it illegal to intentionally or, in Scotland, recklessly take, injure or kill a crow, or to take, damage or destroy an active nest or its contents. In Northern Ireland, it is illegal to disturb birds at an active nest.

Birds are protected by law. These laws are many and complex and it is essential that those people carrying out bird management, whether pest professional or layman, understand the legal implications of what they do. If you are ever in any doubt as to the legality of any action you are about to undertake GET EXPERT ADVICE FIRST. If you don't, you could bring yourself or your organization into disrepute and face prosecution.

General licence

It is essential that anyone intending to take action against birds under any general licence first obtains a copy and familiarises themselves with the conditions. Offences committed under this legislation attract a maximum fine of £5000 or six months custodial sentence.

The Species list detailing which birds the general licence applies to may vary in N Ireland, Wales and Scotland. Check before taking action

Details within the licence may change at any time. It is recommended that reference is always made to the licence details current at the time of action.

The crow is currently listed on public health and safety general licences, so can be culled in accordance with the licence requirements. Management measures can include trapping, shooting (excluding weapons with a muzzle diameter greater than 1.25 inches) and nest destruction. The use of a Larsen Trap is also allowed, under strict understanding that trapped birds are supplied with adequate water, food, shelter and a suitable perch. The trap must be visited at least every 24 hours and all trapped animals or birds must be removed. When the trap is not in use it must be rendered incapable of trapping and the decoy bird removed. Culling can only be resorted to if specific conditions are met, and only where legal, non-lethal methods of control are ineffective or impractical. General licences are only issued for the following specific reasons:

  • where the crow is causing serious damage to agricultural crops, livestock, foodstuffs for livestock, growing timber, fisheries or inland waters
  • where public health or public safety is under threat
  • to prevent the spread of disease

NB. Ravens, which may be easily confused with crows (although heavier and larger), are protected.

The Carrion Crow is a black crow, about the same size as a Rook but unlike the Rook, the Carrion Crow has neatly feathered thighs, and feathers around the base of the beak. While at first appearance its plumage is black, on closer inspection it has a green and purple iridescence.

Adult birds average 18" in length with a wingspan of 37-42"

Each bird can weigh anywhere between 370-650g

Juvenile crows have a duller, browner plumage and blue eyes instead of brown.

The duties of incubating the eggs are performed by the female. The eggs are about 43 mm by 30 mm, smooth and glossy, pale bluish-green with dark brown and grey markings. Both adults feed the young birds.

  • Breeding starts in April
  • 1 clutch per year
  • 4-7 eggs per clutch
  • Incubation 18-20 days
  • Fledge in a further 28-35 days

Found almost everywhere, from the centre of cities to upland moorlands, and from woodlands to seashore, all over the UK but absent from the northernmost reaches of Scotland and N Ireland, where the Hooded Crow is more prevalent

Nests are most commonly seen in the fork of trees, on cliff edges or on electricity pylons

Both birds build the nest which is constructed of twigs lined with hair and bark. They are large constructions

Carrion crows will come to gardens for food and although often cautious initially, they soon learn when it is safe, and will return repeatedly to take advantage of whatever is on offer

The exclusion of birds from areas (ie proofing) is allowed unless the bird is a protected bird with young, a nest or partially built nest, and when the proofing would prevent the birds gaining access to their nesting site. However, a person shall be guilty of an offence liable to special penalty if they "set in position...an article which is of such a nature and is so placed as to be calculated to cause bodily injury to any wild bird coming into contact therewith." In addition, "any electrical device for killing, stunning or frightening" and "bird lime or substance of a like nature to bird lime" are specifically prohibited. Crows can be quite fearless once they overcome any initial wariness, but the following could be effective:

  • Scaring techniques - a sound recording of a crow distress call are available on audible scaring devices and may be effective in keeping birds from nesting in your garden
  • Spikes - have been found to be effective on window ledges to prevent corvids pecking at window putty
  • Mesh net - 50mm mesh net can be used to prevent corvid infestation on buildings
  • Trapping - A Larsen trap, a type of cage trap, is designed to catch birds alive and unharmed. It can be baited with food, or with a live decoy crow, provided all welfare regulations are met. Such traps are legal, so long as the licence conditions are adhered to


Crows can be quite fearless once they overcome any initial wariness, but the following could be effective:

  • Sound Recordings - a sound recording of a crow distress call may be effective in keeping birds from nesting in your garden
  • Trapping - A Larsen trap, a type of cage trap, is designed to catch birds alive and unharmed. It can be baited with food, or with a live decoy crow, provided all welfare regulations are met. Such traps are legal, so long as the licence conditions are adhered to

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