If you’ve been to Delano after dark, you’ve seen swarms of crows in the sky.
It’s like something from an Alfred Hitchcock horror movie.
The city has been trying to get rid of them for years—using strobe lights and shooting blanks to no avail. This is the first year it’s trying a natural predator.
Falconer Adam Baz travels the Central Valley, where crows are a common problem. He is hired to use his falcons and hawks to scare them away.
“We’re probably talking tens of thousands of crows that come into Delano each night,” Baz said. “Delano, I would say, thus far has probably the worst crow problem I’ve seen.”
In downtown Delano, the cleanup is nearly impossible.
“This has gotten so bad in the past that you actually can’t see the white lines in between the parking spots,” Baz said. “I think a lot of businesses have spent a lot of money pressure washing and cleaning, installing amplified speakers that play predator calls, and at the end of the day, none of that works.”
More than a money suck and annoyance, crows are a health concern. They carry a number of bacterial and fungal diseases that can be deadly to humans, including West Nile Virus, of which there are already 19 cases in Kern County.
“We’re just using a hawk, which is their natural predator, to basically push the crows to the outskirts of the city where they’re less of a problem for humans,” Baz said.
While the hawks sometimes kill the crows, the mission is more to scare them off.
“Crows are very smart, so over time they will learn that the hawk is here to stay and therefore this is not a hospitable place for them to spend the night any longer,” Baz said.
Baz’s hawk, Mars, is laser pointer trained.
He and Mars will spend a few hours three nights a week in Delano for about six months. Mars will fly wherever Baz points the laser, trained almost like a dog to fetch and return.