6 weeks ago a pair of Torresian Crows ("also called Australian crow or Papuan crow") began roosting in close proximity to my residence. Their chicks have left the nest and they do not seem to be moving on. I fear that they are preparing for another spawn which is another 5-6 weeks that I will have to endure their unrelenting torment.

Torresian Crows in my region are a protected species and it is illegal to harm them in any form, as such they have become the dominant predator in the region. They do not fear humans in any capacity and when in numbers will assault people.

I am personally assaulted almost on a daily basis and I am unable to change my route past their nest.

Is there a proven method to defending from aerial assault that does not involve directly harming the animal?

So far I have tried the following strategies to no avail:

  • Feeding the crows, the crow ate the food I had provided and then swooped at me
  • Ignoring the crows, this resulted in the crow gouging at my scalp casting a large gash
  • Yelling at the crows, this makes them more angry
  • Swinging keys above my head, this stops the crows from swooping but makes them follow me for up to 500m from the nest, swooping whenever i relent

The only strategy that seems to have effect is not commuting in day hours. As it is currently summer, that means that I have to leave before dawn and return after sunset. This is becoming impractical as work is beginning to notice my prolonged hours and is asking me to leave.

  • 1
    One suggestion and one request for clarification. Suggestion: use an umbrella. This worked on aggressive owls in a Dutch city. Clarification: the Wikipedia article said nothing about their being protected, and said that they were expanding their habitat in Australia. Where are you and why do these crows need protection
    – ab2
    Commented Jan 17, 2018 at 4:57
  • @ab2 Native birds in Queensland are protected by law. As for why, I have not been able to find out. Commented Jan 17, 2018 at 5:04
  • Do you have an animal control office you can call? In the US you can often get a permit to kill nuisance animals.
    – paparazzo
    Commented Jan 17, 2018 at 16:39
  • 1
    Does the crow ever attack frontally, or rather always goes for the back of your head? In the latter case the crow might be scared of your eyes. I've heard similar stories and word on the street is wearing a hat or beany with on the back something which roughly looks like a pair of eyes might resolve this. Not too convenient though.
    – stijn
    Commented Jan 17, 2018 at 18:52
  • So the crow was responsible for "gouging at my scalp casting (causing?) a large gash." Is there no right to self-defense in Australia? You're "personally assaulted almost on a daily basis" but are legally prevented from striking back? Seems ridiculous to me. Why not give it a slap and see how it likes its own medicine? Commented Jan 31, 2018 at 18:25

2 Answers 2


You might try an umbrella. See this article from The Guardian, Rogue owl caught after year-long reign of terror in Dutch town.

A rogue owl that has terrorised a northern Dutch city for the past year, forcing citizens to arm themselves with umbrellas at night, has been caught, officials have announced.

Dubbed the “terror owl” by residents of Purmerend, north of Amsterdam, the aggressive European eagle owl is suspected of more than 50 attacks on humans, swooping silently from above and leaving many of its victims bloody and bruised.

The owl was also protected, but the city got permission to hire a falconer to trap it, and a permanent home was found for it.

The article does not say how effective the umbrellas were. It does note that the European eagle owl weighs up to 3 kg and has a wing span of up to 1.8 meters. So if umbrellas worked on the owl, they probably will work on your crows.

  • I like the umbrella suggestion. There isn't much you can do to stop them. This is common with crow nesting areas from what I have read in a couple of books by Lyanda Lynn Haupt. You could try contacting the researchers listed on the bottom of this page. I know John Marzluff has done extensive research and written a number of books about crows. washington.edu/news/2012/09/10/…
    – user14513
    Commented Jan 18, 2018 at 0:24
  • 3
    An umbrella was my first thought as well, in addition to just using it as protection from above and making you appear larger from the sky, opening and closing it in jabbing motions toward the bird may or may not work to scare it. I personally would also shout Yah! Yah! back you vile beast! cause lets face it that makes it more fun and it works in the movies.
    – Nate W
    Commented Jan 18, 2018 at 16:06

You're correct that these Torresian Crows can, at times, exhibit aggressive behavior, and, unlike some other crows, may directly attack people. It stems from a defensive parental instinct though, and is territorial in nature. According to The Brisbane City Council's page on Swooping Animals, they, and some of Brisbane's other native birds, are most likely to swoop people during peak breeding time, which is between July and December. As you've found out by experience, each nesting cycle during that time usually lasts up to six weeks. The swooping is a normal defensive behavior, generally caused by a bird with eggs or newly hatched young in the nest. The people who are most vulnerable are those who are closest to the nest. The crows do establish territories which extend beyond the actual nest, and may include your backyard, street, local park or field areas, or buildings like an office or school, so people may not even know where the nest is. In your case though, the nest is right nearby, so you know exactly where it is, and, unfortunately, you're in the direct path of the most vulnerability!

There are things you can do, some of which you've tried, which, unfortunately, haven't been working for you.

The WildlifeQld Snake Catcher Brisbane & Bird Management is a good source of have information about birds and crows, including a page dedicated solely to the Torresian Crow (Covus orru).

As you said, they're protected in your area, for several reasons, primarily because they provide natural pest management. They eat insects and small rodents in agricultural, woodland and suburban gardens. Through defecation in these areas, they disperse seeds which helps growth and survival of native crops. They also eat animals which are already deceased in the road, providing assistance with clean-up, and also creating a continuing benefit to the ecosystem.

The following is their advice. I know you've tried some of these things, but I'm leaving them in so the answer includes the complete list.

  • Don't interfere with the bird, its nest or the chicks.
  • Crows are a protected species under Australian law and attempts to harm or kill these birds are illegal. These birds are merely protecting there young from a perceived intruder in much the same we would our own children.
  • Don't feed crows. It is commonly believed that by feeding these birds they become friendly and won't become a nuisance. The truth is it encourages other animals into the area to take advantage of a free feed.
  • Avoid the area. If there is an alternate way of getting to work, going to the shops or taking the kids to school then use it instead. It's a small price to pay when considering a potential injury.
  • Where possible keep your eye on the bird. In most cases the bird will not swoop and make contact if it sees you are watching. If the bird does approach the simple waving of an arm will deter it from making physical contact.
  • Carrying a hat, umbrella or alternate object which you can hold above you head can help in deterring birds from swooping. Walking in a group can also be a great tactic.
  • Placing eyespots on your bike helmet, wearing sunglasses on the back of your head or keeping the bird in eye contact may in some cases help prevent swooping. Crows like magpies utilise the element of a surprise attack when you're not looking. Therefore maintaining eye contact, or the illusion that you are, may as previously mentioned aid in deterring them.
  • Don't harass the birds, as this can make them more aggressive and more likely to injury someone else.
  • Informing your local council and having them erect signs is a great way of informing residents of swooping birds in the area so they are aware of the temporary risk. Source

If the birds, even when not breeding, haven't moved away on their own, you can seek removal or relocation assistance, however, and this is very important:

Never try to remove or relocate even one of these birds, either on your own, or by calling a "relocation specialist" People advertise themselves as "certified" or "licensed" in order to make money, so be careful when seeking help. Only people with certification from the Environmental Protection Agency are authorized to help, and there's a strict process they need to go through to receive the proper certification.

Advice & Relocation

If your best efforts of deterring the bird fail then further advice or relocation may be your last resort. Ecologically-minded crow advice, specialist trapping requirements, and ecologically sound translocation methods are employed by licensed professionals for effective crow relocation.

Trapping & relocation of the bird is done in accordance with requirements stipulated by the Environmental Protection Agency and permits are issued after stringent examination as to knowledge and suitability to actively manage conflict crows.

Every effort is made to ensure the birds are managed as to welfare, and to minimize any possible harm whilst being trapped, upon trapping, and through transit to a suitable release site. Source.

  • 1
    +1 Wearing sunglasses on the back of one's head: this sounds like the attempted solution to tiger attacks, in which villagers wore masks that looked like a face on the back of their heads. The theory was that tigers attack from behind, and the backward-looking "faces" would deter them. This worked for awhile, but the tigers caught on. I wonder if the crows will figure out the eyeglasses trick.
    – ab2
    Commented Jan 18, 2018 at 4:26
  • @ab2: crows are smart, probably smarter than tigers in general. They're also less specialized in hunting/attacking though, and at least several species lose their curiosity when they grow older, so it might be worth a shot. Keeping real eye contact (double edged sword, you're looking straight at their nest which coul make them more agressive) or using an umbrella or large hat (which Crocodile Dundee tells me all Australians have) sound like options worth trying as well.
    – Monster
    Commented Jan 20, 2018 at 8:21

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