I dry my clothes on open balcony. I have metal bars facing each other from far and holding 5 ropes. I have these crows landing and constantly pecking certain spot on one of ropes. I am sleeping in the room next to balcony and am looking for ideas on how to scare away crows without disturbing my sleep. FYI I am outside of US if your solution involves supplies that can only be purchased there. Thanks.

  • Photo of the set-up on balcony showing ropes please.
    – M.Mat
    Commented May 14, 2017 at 4:38

2 Answers 2


This could be a fun project, especially since in terms of brain/body mass ratios we are up against a very worthy opponent

Know thy enemy

Crows in particular are very intelligent birds. Recent studies have shown that birds of the Corvidae family demonstrated self-awareness in mirror tests (European magpies) and tool-making ability (crows, rooks)—skills until recently regarded as solely the province of humans and a few other higher mammals. Their total brain-to-body mass ratio is equal to that of great apes and cetaceans, and only slightly lower than in humans.

The Corvidae family includes crows, ravens, rooks, jackdaws, jays, magpies, treepies, choughs, and nutcrackers

Survey the battlefield

If a murder of crows has set eyes on modifying your property for their benefit, you will need to identify other areas that they may be probing or pecking around. They seldom insist on certain isolated objectives, and your clothesline may be only one of several projects on the bird's mind. Do make sure there is no place where they are nesting, as this has detrimental effects on your properties' finishes, roofing and specially waterproofing.

Once you have identified areas of concern, you can select the solution that fits your needs and budget.

Choose your weapons

On your local home improvement store you may find different products you can select to protect the areas of concern around your property. Your choices:

  • Decoys a Hawk decoy, correctly placed and moved regularly will be somewhat effective until the birds catch on to the trick. If you don't move the decoy frequently, and dealing with crows that can be surprisingly faster that we might expect. You don't want to end up owning a proverbial scarecrow with crows sitting on top of it. You need to combine the decoys with another solution below:
  • Bird Spikes these are particularly effective if you can cover the place where they need to stand to Peck at your clothesline. Like all good things they come in different materials, sizes and colors, so they don't end up ruining the sightlines of your property. Stainless steel spikes are quite durable and a bit more expensive, but only come in stainless steel color. Plastic spikes will need to be replaced every two years, depending on placement, since exposure tends to degrade and make plastic brittle. They are less expensive and come in different colors, so you can mix and match with the surrounding architecture
  • Physical Barriers Use wire nets, or landscaping nets or even wood structures o masonry to make cozy nesting places inaccessible to the birds.
  • Active deterrents there may be other solution, either Sonic, mechanical, or electric, however I'd only consider them if you had a major bird problem.(Think Saint Mark's Cathedral in Venice) or as a last resort I since these solution will inflict injury or harm on living creatures: (v.gr, high voltage low current wires that shock birds as they step on​ them, motion sensor activated loudspeakers that scare birds when tripped, or moving blades that actually shove or hit the birds if standing on their path.)
  • Chemical solution there are some Chloride salt compounds that are specifically designed as bird repellent. You need to get the right one for your kind of bird, since something that stinks like the stink of death to one bird species, may smell like dinner's ready to others. These solutions are usually temporary since weather will reduce their effectiveness and there may be environmental concerns.

I think a combination of bird spikes and strategic netting are the most effective

Here are some images of the products:

A predator decoy Stainless steel bird spikes Plastic bird spikesAssorted colors plastic bird spikes

Roll your own

Once you understand they bird spikes work because they make an area unavailable for landing/standing to the birds much in the same way a thorny bush would, you can come up with a way to deploy pointy stuff of your own manufacture and creativity confirming to your skills and available tooling and material. A good guideline can be the CAD files that this company provides and their extensive product literature available for download

FULL DISCLOSURE I did some IT work for them back in 2000, as an external solutions vendor, and I was fascinated with their manufacture process for such a niche market product

Fun facts

Even though it was only recently observed that crows are way more intelligent than we tought, (self awareness is no small feat! Only humans, some great primates and dolphins were believed to be self-aware ) they have always caused some sense or uneasiness to humans. They were widely regarded as birds if bad omen throughout European cultures and that uneasiness reflects even today on a variety Languages that have a distinct word for a group of crows as opposed to q group of any other birds: in English, we have a Flock of birds, and a Murder of crows, in Spanish the words are Parvada and Pandilla respectively. I believe that this uneasiness about crows rises from our collective subconscious being aware of these birds cunningness, even if we consciously dismissed them as only "bird-sized-brains" creatures.

So there. Hope this helps.

  • 2
    Worth noting that it has been shown that crows can not only recognize a human (as, for instance, one who sometimes carries a gun and shoots at crows), but can communicate their recognition to other crows. That's a trick that neither great apes nor dolphins have been shown to know.
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Commented May 15, 2017 at 11:28
  • 2
    It's quite remarkable! Maybe when the time comes for Earth to be evicted because a space superhighway will run right through our system, it won't be the dolphins singing "Goodbye and thanks for all the fish" but crows singing "Goodbye and thanks for all the corn" O.o
    – hlecuanda
    Commented May 15, 2017 at 11:51

You could try to hang some old DVD's with fishing line. When the sun reflects off of them it usually scares the birds way

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