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Stone The Crows!

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The Dictionaries list this as an Interjection,

stone the crows, (UK, Australia, informal) Generalised expression of surprise or amazement, or just for emphasis.

stone the crows

The exact origins of stone the crows is not so clear. It seems there were a number of similar fragmentary sentences around Australia in the early decades of the twentieth century, all fuelled by the Australians love of playing with language. Reference is made to stone the crows in [Rose of Spadgers by C.J.Denis, 1924] and in the BBC radio comedy [Hancock's Half Hour, 1950's].

Taking it a step further and looking at possible meanings for the word crow,

crow¹ (krō) (noun), Any of several large glossy black birds of the genus Corvus, having a characteristic raucous call.
crow² (krō) (intr.v), To make a sound expressive of pleasure or well-being, characteristic of an infant. (noun), An inarticulate sound expressive of pleasure or delight.

suggests that literally throwing a stone at these birds might illicit a moment of joy from them [or so I would have you think] but I digress…!

I do wish I could literally ‘stone the crows’and not in the figurative joyous, pleasurable way alluded to above. There is a murder of crows that have taken up residence in what remains of our suburbs pine forest and spend their every waking hour loitering around the local school. With the obvious attraction of free school lunches on most days, every vantage point overlooking the school courtyard is highly prized and fought over. One of those vantage points just happens to be the roof of my house! Added to this is the superior acoustics of a concrete courtyard forming an open air amphitheatre, amplifying every squawk to unimaginable levels… and the straw that’s broken the camels backis the 5.30am wake up call on the weekends…!

Somehow, someone has managed to get the crow listed as a protected species meaning its now illegal to kill a crow in Australia. This rules out a whole raft of ideas that may have solved my problem like:

  • the ol’ 12 bore shot gun – noisy and messy but very effective in the short term
  • bread dipped in bicarbonate of soda – apparently makes ‘em swell up and explode, but hard to discriminate between other species of birds I’d like to keep in the garden
  • crossbow – weapon of choice for many anti-crow enthusiast

and leaves me with a few silly ideas like:

  • erecting a traditional scarecrow – somehow I just don’t think the crows will take me seriously with that
  • silver pie trays mounted on string and suspended from the gutters – a bit like the quintessential Ozzie akubra hat with corks hanging off the rim..
  • perching a mock barn owl (the predator) atop my roof – desperate

The one I like best [he says facetiously] is the suggestion that ‘perhaps you may be at fault and the crow has a right to life and freedom to roam the skies at will… perhaps you should move and that way the crows will no longer bother you…!’ [give me strength].

Which leaves me with the audio/sonic devices. Seems there are scores of manufacturers out there, each with his own brand of technology and claimed effectiveness. Essentially the device emits a sound not audible to the human ear, or quite enough not to be a nuisance to us, mimicking a crow in distress (since crows will not hang around another dead crow). Various models include extras such as the sound of the crows predators, sounds of posturing or aggressive male crows etc. Some devices claim to cover a 30m radius, others 100m radius, some are mono and others come in quadraphonic sound. The choice (and price) are endless.

…and here too must end this lament.

If only I could just stone the crows!

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One Response

  1. I think this is a very cruel article and should be removed. It inspires all kinds of mischief in kids…

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