This section is from the book "The Balance Of Nature And Modern Conditions Of Cultivation", by George Abbey. Also available from Amazon: The Balance Of Nature And Modern Conditions Of Cultivation.
This cunning bird is one of the greatest enemies the gamekeeper and poultry rearer has. It is not easily distinguished from the rook, although differing in its flight and habits, and also lacks the light beak and white colour on the face of the rook. Carrion crows are generally found in pairs, though sometimes a flock of four or six are seen together. They pair in March, and in the early mornings especially must be carefully watched, for nothing in the way of eggs and young birds comes amiss to them. To trap them, a stale pheasant, or partridge, or hen-egg, according to place of depredation, or, better still, two or three eggs, will prove the best bait; pieces of high meat, rabbit paunch, or a small rabbit paunched and split in half are also attractive. The traps, same as those used for wood-pigeons, should be set round the bait, or in front; two or three traps if the bait is placed on a hedge near favourite haunts of the birds. Flesh-bait should be firmly secured to the ground by wire pegs so that it cannot be moved by the bird. Small pieces of high meat tied on the plate of half a dozen traps, which are scattered pretty thickly and concealed all but the bait, are efficacious for taking crows across the head.
The best spots for trapping crows are narrow belts of plantation, or at the sides of streams and lakes; or in coverts where there is not much underwood and which are a little open above, in fields, by fences or near a few shrubs or trees. If setting in plantation, choose a rough tuft of grass; divide the grass at one side of the tuft, and at the point of the angle place the bait. Set the trap, "tickle," at the entrance and 4 to 5 in. from the bait, covering the trap and space around with withered grass cut small with a knife. For setting at the side of a stream or pool of stagnant water, cut a sod broader than the trap and place it in the water so as to project about 1 ft. from the side and almost level with the water, and placing the bait (egg-shells filled with moist clay) at the water end, and the trap 6 in. from the bait, covering the trap with "cut up" dead grass. Carrion crows may be killed by placing a bait half hidden on a piece of ground made plain in a ploughed field and two or three traps set near it. The edge of a manure heap does well either for taking the crows by the head or leg.
Of course, a keen search should be made for the nests of carrion crows, and these promptly destroyed.
Fig. 116. - Trap set for Egg-stealing Crows by Water.
This bird lives much in the same manner as the carrion crow, feeding on garbage of all kinds, eggs, young birds, feeble adults of both bipeds and quadrupeds on moors, preserves, warrens and pastures, and, like the rook, not sparing seed-corn and set-potatoes. It may be destroyed by the various methods of trapping described under carrion crow. For crows in the open, as on moors, a fresh sheep's head, fixed to the ground or a tree is a good bait. The head may be surrounded by traps, or poison may be introduced into the eyes. Attacks on seed-corn may be mitigated by setting traps, baited or left to take their chance; and attacks on set-potatoes are warded off by trapping, a few traps baited and judiciously placed having a good effect in a day or two.