DEAR JOHANNA: Last night, around 5 p.m., a giant crows flight flew northeast over the Blossom Hill, Kooser and Cabrian neighborhoods of San Jose.
At first there were hundreds and eventually it looked like thousands as they kept coming in large groups and individual birds. There was no organization in the groups, but they all went in the same direction.
Bob Sullivan, San Jose
DEAR BOB: They were all on their way to the nightly crow meet-and-greet for an evening of singing, entertainment, and cocktails.
OK, maybe I overdid it, but as our nighttime temperatures started to drop into the cool range, crows regularly gathered in large numbers. The mating season is over, so they are not as lonely or territorial as they are in spring.
They have favorite roosts (cross your fingers, one of them is not a tree near you) and they will gather there at sunset and spend the night to ensure warmth and mutual protection.
During the winter they will look for food together that may be scarce, break up into smaller herds in the morning and regroup at the rest area in the evening.
DEAR JOHANNA: We have a rat problem in our detached garage and back yard. We had chickens for many years which started the problem over 15 years ago.
An electronic zapper worked for a while, but it cost a high price – $ 50 each – and only worked for a short time. We haven’t had chickens for four years and yet the rats are here. The other day I saw someone climb on a plant and get to the bird feeder in broad daylight.
We have used traps for many years, but my husband is tired of removing rats and replacing traps for so many years. We paid a pest control company a lot of money a few years ago to make sure they weren’t in our house. Do you have any suggestion on how to get rid of them?
We hate making poison because we know it poisons everything it eats. My husband is fed up with catching and dealing with dead rats, and we can’t afford to buy an electronic zapper every few weeks.
Can you please give us other solutions to get rid of rats? I have dreams of them in our house again.
Sam, Castro Valley
DEAR SAM: The chickens may have attracted the rats at first, but it seems like you still have something they like so stay here.
Contact the Vector Control District (Alameda Vector Control closest to you) and ask for help. They will inspect your property and give you free specific recommendations on how to better protect your garden. Rats are a fact of life, but there are ways to discourage them.
Remove all sources of food and water that you can, take the bird feeder down for a while, remove areas they might nest in (ivy, ground cover, wood piles), and make sure your home is by searching and sealing Protected remains off rat entry points.
Rat zappers should last more than a couple of weeks, but they’re not good for outside. Please do not use poisons or sticky traps, which kill cruelly and pose a threat to other creatures.
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