Palo Alto's problems -- crows, rats and airplanes | An Alternative View | Diana Diamond | Almanac Online |

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By Diana Diamond

Palo Alto's problems -- crows, rats and airplanes

Uploaded: Jul 17, 2018

Crows! Roof rats! Noisy airplanes! I’ve been asking Palo Alto residents what bothers them in their daily lives this summer and their responses were surprising – not traffic or lack of parking, but “crows” – that was the #1 response.

The other day at 6:12 a.m., I was awakened because the local crows decided to hold a convention in the trees in front of my house. I am guessing there were at least 50 or 100 of them. They started talking – and what went on reminded me of the British Parliament in session. One crow with a loud voice shouted out something, and he was followed by 20 or so responses. Then another crow with a higher voice shouted out something else, and a murder of crows responded. Twenty minutes later the convention ended -- and I was fully awake.

Crows like to convene in early morning and evening hours. During the day they frequent our streets –and walk into my lane as I drive down the street. They remind me of some pedestrians – I stop and unhurriedly the crows slowly saunter to the curb.

A friend of mine got angry at the crows in his yard and bought a recording of a dying crow, which was invented to get rid of crows. He loaned it to us, claiming it worked – the sound of a dying crow, he said, alarmed other crows who then stayed away from his house.

My experience was a bit different. We turned it on one evening soon we were invaded by hundreds of crows, cawing from our trees, complaining about the dying crow. It was as if they were attending a funeral of a King Krow We gave the recording back to our friend.

And a segue to the next problem: roof rats. The other morning I heard a thud on the back deck. I saw a dead rat that a crow evidently had dropped, and watched the crow fly away. Roof rats have long tails.

Roof rats are also a big problem in Palo Alto, but most of us don’t discuss it much, maybe because we are embarrassed to admit we have a problem (the same is true if we have ants that invade our kitchen).

Our roof rat arrived in late winter and somehow got into the crawl space between the downstairs ceiling and the upstairs floor. In the early morning hours it would scamper across and start gnawing away at our downstairs bathroom ceiling. We set rat traps outside on our roof and fences, hoping to catch the varmint, but to little avail. Poison became the only solution and it finally worked – the rat died outside! Only problem is we now have a gnawed hole in our bathroom ceiling.

Airplane noise was the third complaint – and the flight paths are intermittent, depending on daily weather conditions Early evening pre-dinner time is the most trafficked air path time, with a plane flying above every 45 seconds.

My husband has made a game out of it. He found an app that if he sits on the back deck, and holds his phone toward the sky, the app can track each plane. The screen is filled with information: SAS approaching from Copenhagen to SFO, height 5,383 feet, four-engine Boeing 747, etc. etc. He’s keeping mental track of all the planes. And my dog loves to chase these planes across the yard, protecting his “territory” so man and dog have great fun. Me? I just have a glass of white wine.