Sunnyvale will start shooting laser pointers at crows to get them to go away

Sunnyvale will start shooting laser pointers at crows to get them to go away
Photo: Yogeh Namdev/Unsplash
By Wesley Severson - Published on January 12, 2022.

The city of Sunnyvale has added a new task to its to-do list: Get rid of hundreds of noisy, messy crows, and officials will apparently use lasers to do it. Sunnyvale residents have been filing hundreds of complaints about huge swarms of the birds in the downtown area that leave behind a disgusting mess. In fact, it’s the second-leading complaint received by the city of Sunnyvale. “I live downtown and my complex abuts the Caltrain tracks and so that’s a noise issue, but often the crows that are immediately outside of the apartment are a larger noise nuisance,” Vice Mayor Alysa Cisneros told the Mercury News.

Now, Sunnyvale is turning to a no-frills abatement program to basically drive the murder of crows crazy. Workers will point handheld lasers at them so they hopefully leave. "We are currently looking at laser pointers to humanely annoy the crows into leaving," Cisneros told NBC Bay Area. Turns out, several residents have already been doing it and it has apparently been working. “The reason it frightens them away is the same reasons it’s useful for giving seminars. It looks very bright. Green is particularly bright for things like crows. They have much more visual acuity,” Sunnyvale resident Ken Ibbs told Mercury News.

As you can imagine, not everyone loves the idea. "I have real concerns about the use of lasers. Lasers can blind the birds, which is a death sentence for the birds because they can't see, they can't fly or feed properly," Matthew Dodder from the Santa Clara Valley Audubon Society told NBC Bay Area. The city is considering other methods as well like using falcons to scare the crows away. The Audubon Society confirms that there is an overpopulation of crows right now and that the groups have been growing with the human population.  

Other U.S. cities have used laser pointers to scare off crows and the Humane Society calls the method ‘humane harassment.’ Between the poop and the loud “caw” sounds, everyone knows something needs to be done right away. “I think the biggest thing is if you can disperse them it’s not as bad, but we’ve had to do spray washing of our Plaza del Sol park mainly because of the odor. The remains from them roosting has just been pretty unmanageable and a health risk at a certain point,” Sunnyvale Mayor Larry Klein told the Mercury News.