‘Like a minefield’: Crows are back in downtown Portland


PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — “It’s kind of like walking through a minefield, and you’re really afraid to look up at it.”

This quote from Portlander Dalya Leighty, without context, is enough to make your mind wander: who could be responsible for this type of fear? Recently, in downtown Portland, it’s the crows that have returned who claim responsibility. Take a walk down the street and you’re sure to find crows high above the ground, and their feces on it.

“I think it’s really gross,” Leighty said.

Some people don’t see the return of the crows as much of an issue. Bob Sallinger, a conservationist with the Audubon Society, said the heavy presence of crows is nothing new.

“It goes on for a couple of months. It happens every single year,” Sallinger said. “During the winter months the crows congregate together. It’s something they do for safety — they do it for warmth and they do it because it helps them locate food.”

The fear of flying feces is enough to make local business owners concerned. They want the visitors gone. The Portland Business Alliance, in recent years, has used falcons to drive the crows out humanely. Finding away to get rid of the crows is not an easy accomplishment.

“Each year someone comes to us and says we can’t do this anymore,” Sallinger said, “and the question is why not? We share this landscape I understand the inconvenience but to propose killing thousands and thousands of crows isn’t a solution either.”

Someone, who was never caught, once tried to do that by poisoning crows. University of Washington PhD candidate Kaeli Swift agrees that killing the crows isn’t the answer.

“It didn’t work in terms of that person trying to address this crow problem,” Swift said of the person who attempted to poison the crows, “but they might have killed a variety of other wildlife and domestic animals.”

One option, according to Sallinger, is to just let time run its course.

“Spring will come and they’ll start to dissipate,” he said, “and you’ll start to see that in a matter of weeks.”

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