More Crows Than Ever Invade Capitol Grounds

Mar 4, 2016

Thousands of crows are befouling pathways and windows at the Iowa Capitol, and officials who oversee the capitol grounds have called in outside help.    

Janet Phipps at the Iowa Department of Administrative Services says the problem is not new, but it is worse this year than in past years.

Phipps says the USDA Wildlife Service has helped downtown Des Moines get rid of its black birds, and they’ve roosted at the capitol instead.

“USDA assists in that so we are in touch with USDA about chasing them somewhere else,” Phipps said.

“To Altoona?”  one lawmaker asked.

“I’m not going to pick a community,” Phipps says.   “Wherever they want to fly I suppose.”

A USDA spokesman says they’ve used lasers and firecrackers to dislodge the crows from their perch in downtown Des Moines.  

Some legislators complained to Phipps about droppings on the beautiful ceiling-to-floor windows in the Iowa House in particular.  

“Those of us on the west side in the House Chamber, we’ve got a little problem with crap on the windows,” said Rep. Quentin Stanerson (R-Center Point).      “Holy moley!  Where are they coming from?”

“We recognize it’s a problem,” Phipps said.   “When you walk out at night it’s like a scene from Hitchcock.”

A USDA spokesman says crow populations expand for any number of reasons.   

Phipps says while the capitol grounds remain soft from rain and snowmelt, it may be a while before crews can get equipment in to wash the giant windows.