DEAR JOAN: The past year or so it seems like the number of crows has increased rapidly. Every morning, at the hint of dawn, they are, um, "crowing" at the top of their lungs. It's hard to ignore them, even with double-pane windows. Our kids complain that they get awakened early, and on weekends, forget about sleeping in.

Now with the time shift, they're back at it at 6 most mornings.

Where did they come from, and why are they so noisy? Is there some food source that they're fighting over?

I know they weren't here in that volume three or five years ago. I seem to remember we used to have songbirds, which are now gone. Any tips on sending the crows away, or are they like the ducks at Shoreline?

Crows are earlier risers, ever in search of the proverbial worm.
Crows are earlier risers, ever in search of the proverbial worm. (E. Jason Wambsgans/Chicago Tribune)

Roger P.

Bay Area

DEAR ROGER: The crow population definitely is growing. A century ago, they were rare in our area. Now they are commonplace and have federal protection. Crows are drawn to urban areas for the ample supply of food and housing. Developed areas are warmer and have plenty of trees for roosting.

The only thing known to keep them at bay is to play a recording of crows in distress. However, there's a potential hazard to that; a scientist studying crows wrote me to say that while the alert calls may make the crows move elsewhere, they also attract raptors, feral cats and raccoons that want to take advantage of crows in trouble. You may swap one issue for a host of others.

It sounds as if the flock you have is roosting in your neighborhood at night and flying off in the morning in search of grub. All that cawing you hear is a meet-and-greet before taking off to hunt. Make sure your garbage bins are closed, that you don't leave pet food outside, and that any fallen fruit is cleaned up. Converting your lawn to something else may also help.

You can try placing mylar balloons with images of eyes on them in the trees. You'll need to move them around frequently because crows quickly figure it out.

The simplest solution, however, may be a stuffed, faux crow -- check the Halloween bargain bin. Under cover of night, hang it upside down in your tree. As nutty as it sounds, I've got testimonials from folks who say it works like a charm.

Give a buck

Solano County Friends of Animals has launched its annual Give a Buck campaign to raise money for the nonprofit, 501(c) organization that operates with no facility and no paid staff. Volunteers take in and foster the animals, so they are particularly in need of money to help cover expenses.

The campaign runs through Dec. 31, and they ask that everyone reading this column send $1 to SCFOA, P.O. Box 235, Benicia, CA 94510. If you have questions, contact Ruby Waderich, retiredruby@comcast.net. My buck is in the mail.

Adoption weekend

PetSmart Charities is sponsoring a National Adoption Weekend, Friday through Sunday.

Check with your neighborhood PetSmart to see what they have going on.

In East Contra Costa, look for Antioch Animal Services, Delta Animals Safe Haven, HALO and HARP rescue agencies at the Slatten Ranch PetSmart, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, 5879 Lone Tree Way, Antioch.

Contact Joan Morris at jmorris@bayareanewsgroup.com.