Virginia Neighborhood Tries to Deter Crows With Grape Kool-Aid-Smelling Fog

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For years from late fall to spring, hordes of crows roost at Shirlington Village, leaving behind a very messy, unsanitary situation, but the company that manages the area is trying something new to move them along.

During the day, the crows around Shirlington Village are scattered about, but from dusk until dawn hundreds gather in the trees, coating restaurant tables, streets and sidewalks with crow drippings. Resident Adele Crump said she can’t use her balcony anymore. 

“Oh my God, it’s to the point now I don’t even try to clean it, because it’s just too much,” she said.

It’s also too much for businesses there to deal with.

The real estate company that manages the area hired a wildlife removal company with a track record of encouraging crows and other birds to move on.

This week at sunset the company is fogging areas where the crows congregate. The food grade chemical being sprayed smells like grape Kool-Aid, and crows hate it.

“We’re just hoping that for this small area that we will be able to persuade them to go elsewhere,” Shirlington Civic Association President Edie Wilson said. 

The company in charge of the fogging says the goal is to passively and humanely deter the birds. It’s been hired to clear out birds at FBI headquarters and Dulles International Airport.

Crow lovers worry about the impact on their feathered friends.

“For crows and all birds, it acts on their nervous system,” said Sam Sparks of Diva Crows, a wildlife rehabilitation group. “So, it’s an irritant in their eyes, their beaks and their throats.” 

She also said the timing is bad as some birds are already starting to nest. 

A Shirlington artist weighed in with a painting to show sympathy for the crows.

“This is saying, you know, where are they going to go?” Micky Stack said. “Where are we going to go people?”

Even without the fogging, the crows will be migrating soon, leaving Shirlington behind. Businesses there hope the crows will remember the foul smell of the grape fog and find a new roost in the fall.

The owners of the company doing the fogging stress the chemical has no impact on humans. 

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