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

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About this blog: So much is right — and wrong — about what is happening in Palo Alto. In this blog I want to discuss all that with you. I know many residents care about this town, and I want to explore our collective interests to help ...  (More)

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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.

Comments

 +   2 people like this
Posted by bike commuter, a resident of Charleston Gardens,
on Jul 17, 2018 at 8:42 pm

yes. rats and ants. especially ants. they are incredibly aggressive and massive. I later learned they are Argentine ants.


 +   4 people like this
Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Jul 18, 2018 at 11:17 am

I'm in full agreement about the crows and rats (and ants). Noise pollution is very different. What some people like others don't like. I like listening to the noise of children playing outside, in their yards, in parks and in school playgrounds. I find it sad when people complain about daytime noise of people being outside and enjoying themselves. 11.00 pm on a school night, yes not so good. 3.00 pm on a summer afternoon, how delightful.

We live in a busy suburban environment. I expect some noise.


 +   7 people like this
Posted by AP, a resident of College Terrace,
on Jul 19, 2018 at 1:17 am

There use to be a diverse bird population in Palo Alto. Last 10-15 years, the crows have taken over. As the crows were pushing out the local bird population, people were told there isn't anything you can do, can't discriminate against the outsiders. Now it's nothing but crows in town, and no more diversity.


 +   7 people like this
Posted by Riding a Swing at Peers Park, a resident of Southgate,
on Jul 19, 2018 at 9:00 am

> There use to be a diverse bird population in Palo Alto. Last 10-15 years, the crows have taken over. As the crows were pushing out the local bird population, people were told there isn't anything you can do, can't discriminate against the outsiders. Now it's nothing but crows in town, and no more diversity.

Kind of like PA losing its small-town vibe over the past few decades...in this case the crows are the upscale homeowners.


 +   3 people like this
Posted by Annette, a resident of College Terrace,
on Jul 19, 2018 at 10:52 am

Annette is a registered user.

I laughed as I read your 2nd paragraph and had to remind myself that CC is in recess!

Seriously, though, add coyote to your list. College Terrace is now home to a den and some neighbors have reported aggressive behavior. County experts have advised us to keep all small animals, and their food, inside. I wonder if they eat crow. Or rat.


 +   5 people like this
Posted by Crows Be Gone, a resident of Mayfield,
on Jul 19, 2018 at 1:04 pm

Try picking up a strong laser pointer. If you shine it on the crow it will usually fly away.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by snap grackle pop, a resident of Greenmeadow,
on Jul 19, 2018 at 1:26 pm

Are they crows? I've heard they are actually Grackles.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by DianaDiamond, a resident of Midtown,
on Jul 19, 2018 at 1:53 pm

DianaDiamond is a registered user.

Crows Be Gone -- Shine a laser on the 100 of crows attending their convention in the trees in front of my house?

But your suggestion may be good for a crow or two.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Anon, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Jul 19, 2018 at 2:33 pm

Yes, lots of roof rats lately. I went for a walk, and, a rat jogged along a nearby hedge keeping pace with me. Any experts know why rats are getting worse?

For the rats, I'm not making a suggestion, but, midsize-large cats of certain not-too-civilized breeds can be very good rat-catchers. Don't be surprised by the "gifts" that they bring you-- just try to be appreciative so that they continue to bring more. It goes without saying that you don't want to handle the gifts. ;-)

(Bracing for criticism: yes, I know rats can carry Hantavirus, Leptospirosis, rat-bite fever, salmonellosis, and, indirectly, plague. Among other things. And, the answer is-- ?)

Web Link


 +   5 people like this
Posted by Duveneck Grandma, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis,
on Jul 19, 2018 at 6:30 pm

The one thing you missed was the Palo Alto residents who regularly light up their outside firepits, even on Spare the Air days, and pollute their surroundings with heavy smoke. I don't understand why the PACC can ban cigarettes in condos and apartments and just about everywhere else in the city but continue to allow air pollution from wood smoke. Especially since the particulate matter in wood smoke is incredibly dangerous and deadly. It can cause people who are sensitive to the smoke to suffer cardiac arrest when they breathe it. I speak from experience since I am very sensitive to both cigarette and wood smoke and breathing them sends me into coughing spasms bad enough that I have difficulty catching my breath.

And yes the crows have managed to kill or chase away all our neighborhood birds.


 +   6 people like this
Posted by stopjets, a resident of Adobe-Meadow,
on Jul 20, 2018 at 10:02 am

While it's nice to track and note which planes are flying within earshot, additionally using this link to formally report them might eventually help to collect and document enough aggregated information to move their flightpaths elsewhere:
Web Link


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by stopjets, a resident of Adobe-Meadow,
on Jul 20, 2018 at 10:02 am

While it's nice to track and note which planes are flying within earshot, additionally using this link to formally report them might eventually help to collect and document enough aggregated information to move their flightpaths elsewhere:
Web Link


 +   5 people like this
Posted by Early Morning Walker, a resident of Crescent Park,
on Jul 20, 2018 at 10:34 am

I often get insomnia or bursts or energy and take walks in the early morning, from 1-3am
on the occasion. Walking down Middlefield between Oregon and Embarcadero II have
noticed very often the smell of exhaust, or jet fuel filling almost the entire area.

At first I thought this was a truck or a generator, but I connected it with airliner flights over
the area. Is it possible that jets flying overhead that arrive in the night are dumping fuel,
or could just the flyovers in the still air concentrate exhaust in one area?

There are a lot more flights at this time of day ( early morning ) than one might think,
and the noise in the middle of the night that like will drown out the earphones of my MP3
player. Surely this must be waking people up in the middle of the night?

I was thinking the fuel smell could not be airplanes since it is always in the same area,
but what else would cause an incompletely combusted fuel smell only in this area and only
in the middle of the night?

Has anyone else noticed this. It's really strong and not particularly pleasant to be
walking in and breathing in? Is it possible that the rate or respiratory illness is greater
in this area?

I don't know if it is every night/morning but very often and in the middle of the night
around 2am I've noticed this.


 +   2 people like this
Posted by the_punnisher, a resident of Mountain View,
on Jul 20, 2018 at 8:37 pm

the_punnisher is a registered user.

I guess the Roof Rats used to stay over on the East side of 101 in the auto wrecker businesses there. Asa kid my brother and I had each a " Jivaro Blow Gun " and we were given a bounty based on the roof rat carcasses we shot. The " junkyard dogs " got some fresh meat in their diet and we made pocket change to spend...

(Portion removed)
On airplane issues, just start playing with the drones you kids play with. Start holding Drone Racing competitions. After a drone is ingested into a jet during landing, you should get some action to your pleading. THEN will your non responsive government will go back to the " over the Bay " routing that was the case before this NextGen was put in place. (Portion removed)


 +   8 people like this
Posted by Bothered, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis,
on Jul 21, 2018 at 5:18 pm

While crows and roof rats can be annoying (I have both around my yard, though fortunately not to excess), at least they are part of nature. Excess jet noise/emissions, on the other hand, is an FAA-created assault that our city council is trying to ignore. After the FAA consolidated and moved flight paths several years ago, 60% of SFO arrivals now fly over Palo Alto, at lower and lower altitudes. Just recently the FAA adjusted one path that significantly harms Palo Alto, and council caved. Not only does this congestion create safety concerns, Palo Alto and its neighbors should not be subjected to a disproportionate share of air traffic when there are more equitable alternatives.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Paly Grad, a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive,
on Jul 22, 2018 at 10:57 pm

If you need help with rats and live in Santa Clara County, contact Vector Control:

Web Link


 +  Like this comment
Posted by YesinMyAirspace, a resident of Old Palo Alto,
on Jul 24, 2018 at 10:44 am

The SAS flight is an Airbus A340, not a Boeing 747


 +  Like this comment
Posted by H, a resident of Downtown North,
on Aug 4, 2018 at 3:15 am

Roof rats are not fun. Why? Rodent mites. They are tiny biting monsters. Barely visible. A speck. Only positive is that if you get rid of the rats, at least the rodent mites cannot propagate off of human blood. I've been seeing rats on power lines and scurrying across streets late at night. As for bird diversity: still plenty of dark eyed juncos, black phoebes, woodpeckers, titmouse, hummingbirds, and even those feral parrots from what I see.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Lahaina , a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Sep 8, 2018 at 6:11 pm

Watch out for raccoons,too. Their saliva carries dog polio virus, which is without vaccines and fatal if a dog licks a spot.
Keep your pet food inside!


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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