Shoo, crow: State to disperse birds at Capitol in Harrisburg


It's about to get loud in Harrisburg.

But the sounding of whistles and exploding shells set to start on Wednesday won't be from lawmakers and the governor celebrating the passage of the state budget, the impasse of which reached its 120th day on this week.

Rather, it's just Capitol Police trying to scare off the copious crows that descend on the Capitol complex each autumn to nest for the winter.

"We have a few thousand crows come through in a matter of a few weeks," said Troy Thompson, spokesman for the state Department of General Services.

Ravens: Though the crows receive a disapproving gaze from state officials, their cousins, the raven, are heralded as a sign of good fortune in London.

British officials keep and tend to a small flock of wing-clipped ravens at the Tower of London in accordance with the English folklore: "If the Tower of London ravens are lost or fly away, the Crown will fall and Britain with it."

Pennsylvania officials don't hold the crows of Harrisburg in such high regard.

"When the crows leave, it's an indication we'll have less crow waste on the sidewalks," Thompson said.

Program: The 18th Annual State Capitol Complex Crow Dispersal Program will continue daily from 5 to 7 p.m. until the crows are dispersed, according to a news release from the Department of General Services.

"The Crow Dispersal Program is a vital part of the maintenance and safety of the capitol complex," Secretary Curt Topper said in a news release "However, the methods we use incorporate whistling and exploding shells, which we want the public to be aware of so they aren't alarmed when they hear them."

Though the crows may seems harmless the mess they leave behind can be a hazard to pedestrians. The increased about of bird waste can make sidewalks, especially in wet conditions, slippery, and the waste can damage buildings.

The non-lethal anti-roosting measures is not harmful to people, crows, other animals or the environment.

— Reach Greg Gross at