What’s This Post About?
Like most species, crows are harmless until you give them a reason not to be. They are highly territorial and protective birds that do not appreciate intruders. Whenever another animal or a human enters their space, they go on full alert and might try to attack you.
Some people find the concept of a crow attacking a person humorous. Once they become a victim of this, they will no longer be laughing. There is nothing funny about a crow jabbing at your head or letting out a high-pitched ‘caw’ directly into your ears. Let’s not even go into what happens if it is a mob attack!
Crows will attack humans or try to hurt them if they feel threatened by their presence in any way. You can avoid the attack by steering clear of the nesting area, disposing of garbage neatly, dressing differently, carrying an umbrella or hats, and changing your route.
When Do Crows Attack or Hurt Humans?
Crows are territorial and will strike if they perceive a threat around, regardless of whether it's a human or an animal present in their territory.
You may become a target for a crow for multiple reasons. Their protective nature makes them view people in their territory as threats. They may attack if they are defending their young, protecting their habitat, want to be fed, or remember you as a threat.
Interestingly unlike most birds, crows will not just view you as a threat because you are approaching them. Crows take flight faster when individuals are heading in their direction with their focus fixated on the crows instead of persons who are only gazing in the general direction of the crows.
Crows have figured out how to tell the difference between individuals who are merely passing by and those who are genuinely coming their way. When human approaches, most birds and animals will flee, crows, on the contrary, are intelligent animals that can judge when to escape, when to ignore and when to attack.
Defending Their Young
Crow attacks are most common while trying to defend their young because crows devote a lot of time and effort to their offspring. They make a home for several weeks, incubate eggs for up to 20 days, and feed their babies for yet another 30 days.
Much like humans, they ensure that their children remain safe, except they are often considered villains for it. This is probably because most of the time, their threat is presumed. They mistake everyday passersby as intruders when they have no interest or awareness about a young present in the vicinity.
While they are generally protective of their young, following are some instances where they defend them aggressively:
- Newly born birds
- Young birds are learning how to fly
- The young bird falls from the nest
- Amidst the mourning of a chick’s death
In such situations, crows feel highly vulnerable. Birds’ feeding, breeding, and nesting habits can even be disrupted by human visits to parks and other physical environments. They channel their vulnerability by taking extreme measures and attacking any potential threat.
The fledging season occurs from May to June, so be careful around possible nesting areas.
Looking To Be Fed
If you are a person who puts out food regularly for the birds, you might become a target of a crow attack. Given the reason, the attack will not be extreme, but they might even chase you down the street. This will be the crow’s way of getting your attention and reminding you to give it its meal.
Because crows can remember human faces, they can recall whether they were a threat or a value to them. Crows would seek vengeance on individuals who have caused the damage in the past. Crows will even warn each other about potentially harmful people or animals.
did you know?
Crows can store faces in their memories for up to 6 months.
The rest of the reasons show an individual’s unawareness about the situation. A negative association is, however, mainly developed when humans purposely disturb the bird. This often happens when the crow builds its nest in an undesirable location, and the property owner wants to remove it.
The following actions cause crows a great distress and will result in them holding a grudge against you:
- Touching the young
- Trying to remove the young
- Attempting to relocate the nest
- Trying to destroy the nest
- Frightening the birds with a stick
Understandably, you do not want crows and the filth that comes with them on your property. However, you need to deal with this situation with a lot of patience to avoid a potential mob attack on you. Wait for the young to mature and fly away before you go poking around their nest and territory.
Be patient and wait the breeding period out. Crows do not build a home and stay put. They build nests for breeding and then vacate the area.
When Do The Crows Stop Defending?
There’s no incentive for them to defend that region once the breeding season is over. They’ll remain in the area to ensure that they have access to it next season, but they’re not expected to be aggressively protecting it. I believe you will observe less swopping in the following weeks.
It’s difficult to determine when breeding ends. When the parents breed in the spring, the babies stay in the nest for two to three weeks before leaving. Even after the young leave the nest, they are not entirely independent.
The parents will continue to feed them for a while. However, by this time, the young no longer require protection, so the parents will most likely stop defending them within the next month.
How Will Crows Attack?
The nature and intensity of the attack vary according to the situation. The more threatened or desperate the crow is, the more aggressive their approach will be. If all it requires is mere attention from a person for food, the crow’s actions will be comparatively subtle and harmless.
A crow will always attack silently. Before they make the final swoop on their victim, they do not create a single sound. They start cawing after they have jabbed or grabbed the person. This ensures that the person does not know until the last moment giving them less time to attack back in reflex.
They don’t scratch your eyes out or do anything of that sort when they descend on you. They will, however, attack you, and this can result in a head wound. They may also start cawing aggressively that will attract the attention of other crows.
What To Do When Crows Attack?
The primary thing to remember when a crow attacks you is to remain calm. Do not try to fight it or flap at it. Try to assess the situation and understand the reason behind it. You are most likely in the nest territory, and all it wants is to drive you away.
Crows are not large animals, therefore there is no need to panic. The fidgety and sudden movements can make you appear like a more significant threat. When this happens, the crow might attack you violently and might even call for support from other crows.
There is also no need to retaliate. Do not try to hit it or slap it away at the risk of making it angrier. Without abrupt motions, continue walking away from the place that now looks flagged. As soon as you are away from the vicinity, they will no longer be interested in you.
If you reside or travel through a place with crow nests, it is suggested that you carry some feed like peanuts with you. In case of an attack, you can try to divert them with food instead. Sometimes, they attack because they want food, and having some with you might come in handy.
Crows enjoy unsalted nuts as a nutritious and inexpensive snack. In addition, if they’re still covered, the crow’s beak and jaw muscles will work overtime, attempting to break them open. It will give you enough time to make a swift getaway.
Be careful with how you offer food. If you start throwing it violently, the crow might mistake it as a weapon or additional danger.
5 Tips to Avoid the Attack
Crows are more likely to attack people strolling past their nest during their breeding season, which runs from April to July. If you’ve been attacked in several places of the city, it’s time to start taking precautions to avoid being attacked by crows.
There are three things that you must remember when you avoid crow attacks. They will only attack if they feel threatened, they will aim for the face, and they will remember faces. The last one is the most important because you need to ensure that you do not opt for a prevention way that saves you one time but puts you on their target in the future.
1. Leave the Young Alone
As we have discussed, crows attack because they are concerned for the young. If you do not go close or try to touch the young, you will avoid their attacks. The rule is simple: Leave their young alone, and they will leave you alone.
2. Change Your Route
If you have noticed that you get attacked at a particular place, it may be time to change the route. Crows can imprint faces, and you may have done something to upset them. Nothing you can do will reduce their grudge. Your best bet is to change your route.
If this is the case, you must change your route quickly before you no longer have the option. News spreads fast through the crow network. If one crow has a grudge against you, it will soon be communicated to the rest of their friends and family members.
When you choose an alternate route, try to avoid paths with dense trees. There may be crows in hiding that you are unaware of.
3. Do Not Leave Out the Trash
You may think that you are throwing away trash, but the crows might mistake it for a food offering. If this happens, the crows will register you as a food supplier and will start bugging you for it. Ensure that you do not leave out trash in the open and there are no exposed dumping sites around your house.
Keeping the location where crows are often not spotted is where you can perhaps dispose of trash. You won’t be able to eliminate all crow food sources because they are not very picky eaters. However, if you take away the readily available meal, the crows may opt to hunt for food somewhere else.
Dumping sites and trash cans are areas where crows thrive. Not only will they beg you for more food, but they will also attract more crows. Be careful about how you dispose of your trash if you do not want to be flagged as a target. Here are a few things you should do:
- Get rid of the garbage completely or secure it.
- Cover compost or decompose only outdoor debris, excluding kitchen scraps.
- Feed pets indoors or keep an eye on them if they’re fed outside, and discard food as soon as they’re done.
- Feed small songbirds in feeders designed to keep larger birds out and tidy up spills around feeders regularly.
Use garbage cans with tight and fitted lids to secure and do not spill trash easily.
4. Carry Umbrellas or Hats
If neither of the above tips work out and it becomes impossible to handle the situation, you may consider traveling with protection. There are multiple things you can do to avoid attacks. Wearing a hat or carrying an umbrella are two options that will shield you from a crow ambush.
Sadly, breeding season is during the summertime, so you might feel silly bringing a huge umbrella about. It will probably be less foolish than screaming when the crow does attack you. You can take your pick, but I am guessing getting knocked on the head has to be worse than looking stupid.
Avoid traveling with a black umbrella as it tends to attract them.
5. Change Your Appearance
Desperate times call for desperate measures. If you cannot wait for the breeding season to be over or for the birds to forget you, it may be time to amend your looks. Crows may be intelligent animals, but they are no detectives.
You can try dressing differently. Go for clothes and colors you don’t usually choose to throw the crows off. Try wearing glasses or a mask to cover your face partially. Some people also suggest tying up your hair in a bun as the movement of a pony supposedly attracts them.
Avoid traveling with a black umbrella as it tends to attract them.
Otherwise majestic creatures, crows can get quite aggressive if they feel humans pose a threat to their home or family. Their attacks are meant as warnings to stay away or meant to seek attention. They do not attack a person to the extent that it can be considered dangerous.
By changing routes, avoiding contact with the young, correctly disposing of trash, and changing your appearance, you may be able to save yourself from these attacks. Before you follow these tips, be sure that the bird attacking you is a crow. Here are ways you can differentiate a crow from a blackbird.
Are you contemplating how to identify the Black colored birds flying around? Read on to learn about the key differences between Crows and Blackbirds!
David A. Swanson
Bird Watching USA
My name is David and I'm the the founder of Bird Watching USA! I started Bird Watching with My father-in-law many years ago, and I've become an addict to watching these beautiful creatures. I've learnt so much over about bird watching over the years that I want to share with the world everything I know about them!