The Urban Scarecrow

by Alice

My neighbors (whoever they may be), have four plastic owls hanging by string from the top of their building.

They're on the right -- I'll try to get a better photo soon.

They're on the right -- I'll try to get a better photo soon.

I saw them a few months ago and decided that, not only was it a very tacky decoration, it was also not a very noticeable one. I only noticed the owls because they were level with my fourth floor window.

Then last week I saw owls hanging above a BBQ restaurant on my walk home, and I knew they were not just a tacky decoration.

As it turns out, I probably could have asked anyone in an urban area for the answer. But as I thought it was some ancient Hoboken tradition, I turned to Google.

The owls scare away pigeons. (NYT: Owls clever, but pigeons get wise)

In the South and the Midwest, when we hear pesky critters we think of raccoons, crows, squirrels and opossums. Pigeons are just those funny birds in big cities walking around park benches.

But once I discovered the answer, it made perfect sense. These
dumb creatures have been driving my roommate crazy! They sit on her windowsill and begin clucking every night, just as she’s about to drift off to sleep.

Of course, pigeons aren’t the only urban pests (I was chased out of a park by seagulls last week after I accidentally dropped a piece of my lunch.) But they might be the most present.

I guess the plastic owls have been keeping the pigeons away from my side of the building, so tacky or not, I’m grateful for them.