A scarecrow is a device (traditionally a mannequin) that is used to discourage birds like crows from disturbing crops.
The scarecrow was commonly used in the United States in the 19th century, as shown by its presence in the L. Frank Baum tale The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, as one of the main protagonists. The Scarecrow in that story, was looking for brains from the Great Wizard.
Not only do crows feed on recently cast seed, they also gather nightly, starting with groups of a half dozen which then unite to form a group of 20 to 30 and so on until the flock is quite large and noisy. It is their habit to return to the same place each night. Thus, it is in the interest of farmers, gardeners, and homeowners to move them along (to make them someone else's problem).
The 1881 Household Cyclopedia gives the following advice:
- Machinery of various kinds, such as wind-mills in miniature, horse rattles, etc., to be put in motion by the wind, are often employed to frighten crows; but with all of these they soon become familiar, when they cease to be of any use whatever.
- The most effectual method of banishing them from a field,as far as experience goes, is to combine with one or other of the scarecrows in vogue the frequent use of the musket. Nothing strikes such terror into these sagacious animals as the sight of a fowling-piece and the explosion of gun powder, which they have known so often to be fatal to their race.
- Such is their dread of a fowling-piece, that if one is placed upon a dyke or other eminence, it will for a long time prevent them from alighting on the adjacent grounds. Many persons now, however, believe that crows like most other birds, do more good by destroying insects and worms, etc., than harm by eating grain.
There is also a movie starring Al Pacino named Scarecrow.