Springfield shooting off pyrotechnics to scare away crows downtown

The City of Springfield is using pyrotechnics to shoo away pesky crows that roost in the downtown area during this time of year.

The firework-type signals used by the city can sound similar to a gunshot, but residents shouldn’t be alarmed if they hear them.

“We’re working in conjunction with law enforcement to make sure they understand these loud booms are safe,” said Springfield City Service Director Chris Moore.

The service center has been using the tools for at least 15 years. The signals alternate between a ‘banger’ and a ‘screamer.’ A ‘banger’ sounds like a shot that’s been fired, and the latter sounds like a bang followed by a spiraling noise.

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Neither are meant to hurt the crows — only to scare them away.

“They are absolutely creatures of habit and they’re very smart animals,” Moore said.

Moore said during peak season, between November and February, two or three employees will wait until just before dark and shoot off the signals from different spots around the downtown area.

But because of the birds’ intelligence, crews have to be strategic and mix up how they scare them away and from what position. If it becomes too repetitive, the birds will pick up on it and will return to the area.

Moore said over the years, there have been theories about why the crows choose Springfield for their roosting, but no one has come up with a definitive answer.

It’s also not clear where they come from, but Moore said it’s likely they look for food in fields outside of the city and then come downtown once night falls.

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In addition, the crows are not as affected by the weather, Moore said, citing particular times when he’s seen crows flying in a snowstorm.

The problem has been much worse in years past but because of a collaborative effort by downtown entities, the crows and their droppings have been less of a headache.

The Heritage Center, Courtyard Marriott, Clark County Public Library and Clark State Community College, among others, have used a plethora of tools, ranging from laser pointers to boom machines, to force the birds out of the area.

“When there’s a focused effort, it can make a difference,” Moore said.

Residents can expect to hear the loud ‘booms’ until late February or possibly early March.

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