The Cottage Smallholder

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The crows and our chimney


Path from the kitchen garden

Path from the kitchen garden

Every spring we have our annual battles with the crows that want to nest in our kitchen chimney. They are a determined lot and have won the war several times. I’m a fighter but these are true gladiators.

The problem is that if they do build a nest they fill the chimney with twigs. This means we can’t use the wood burning stove, no smoking of bacon or ham. It takes ages for the birds to leave – they usually stay from January until October. That’s nine months without heat and delicious treats.

Having commandeered the chimney these occupants don’t relax into silent, cuddly domestic bliss. Crows make an enormous racket, chatting, loving and sparing. They also have to fight off trespassers in the early weeks of egg incubation. These exchanges are quite brutal. When the baby birds hatch they seem to shriek constantly.

This year I was determined to win this battle. With ears pinned back I can hear the teeniest twig drop down the chimney and in seconds I’m out of the front door arms waving. The birds flap wearily away from the mad woman who will not let them nest in their home. Their nonchalant swoop to a nearby tree indicates that they are happy to share.

Apart from fetching a gun the only way to get rid of them is to light a fire in the wood burner. They’re not keen on smoke but score high on the determination stakes. At dawn they are back. Perched chatting on the chimney pot with twigs.

The chimney runs down my bedroom wall. The echoey crow conversation wakes me up. Within seconds I picking my way across the bed full of somnolent Min Pins to creep downstairs and light a fire.

We have to win this year. Our chimney is in a sorry state and needs to be repaired urgently now. We put it off last year as there were big black bird fledglings. Hopefully this summer Gary can repair the chimney and put an anti nesting device on the kitchen chimney then finally we can relax after 19 years of a small but exasperating war.

The sitting room chimney will be free to house the crow family – fires in the inglenook only take place in the winter – despite the groaning I do want to give them an alternative. This cottage feels like home to them after all.

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  1. can I shoot the dam blighters or is this against the law, that’s the only solution to this annoying problem, or do you pay X amounts of money to a chimney sweep, if so will they get rid of the pesky blighters once and for all, then you have ti put cowls over the pots which costs money again where a few 22 pellets would sort the problem out, I know there will be people saying you can’t do that because it’s crewel, poor little birdy boys, Im at a loss to say what to do, please advise…..

  2. Sleep Deprived

    Thanks for your article. I thought I was alone. this crow couple has decided to use my chimney cap (made of metal) and peck at it, causing the flu to resonate, it sounds like someone with a pick axe on my roof at 7 a.m. During the week its not so bad, Saturday, I want to shoot them. I’m going to buy a flower pot and drill tiny holes in it and put it over the cap. (Its a propane fireplace and currently out of propane) I dont mind the crows, if they would just be QUIET!

  3. Kooky Girl

    At Labour of Love, we have a chimney that now has the new oven and gas hob under it – so whenever we go back there the hob is full of little black bits that have fallen down, so we will fit a screen (or something) to catch the bits. We also had birds nest outside the bedroom window for several years running so we blocked it out and now they have gone to make their home elsewhere. I kind of miss them….

  4. skybluepinkish

    Another one for chimney protectors. We have so many crows and jackdaws round us and they are the noisest, persistant wotsits I have ever come across (well apart from rats perhaps they win the obstinate prize!)

  5. walter the softie

    Ditto what Patricia said. Even wrapping chicken wire over the top of the chimney & securing it would be better than nothing, until the big repair is done.

    Are the birds black, with grey-ish caps on their heads? If so, then from what you describe I think they may be jackdaws. And if they are, they are THE most obstinate birds I have ever encountered. We had some that nested in the eaves outside our bedroom window. After that first year of rowdy mornings with our avian asbo neighbours, at every first sign of nest building, I’d be up on a ladder pulling the nest to pieces before any eggs were laid. Moments after I put the ladder away they’d cheerfully start to rebuild it.

    Chicken wire.

  6. Oh that would just drive me nuts. It’s bad enough when the starlings pass through, but thank God they don’t stay very long. Crows nesting on the chimney would seriously raise my blood pressure. Good luck getting rid of them!!!

  7. Patricia

    Why not simply cover the top of your chimneys with screening? It allows the smoke and sparks to get out but keeps all the unwanted critters out… that includes ALL birds and squirrels and whatever decides that the roof of your home is actually the floor of theirs… Here in the US there are fitted chimney caps made of screening that can be put over the top and secured with a metal band so it can’t be poked, pried, blown or picked off… also why not make one or two nesting boxes that you can afix to the outside bottom of the chimney to offer these homing crows a place of peace of raise their families…

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