Before Scarecrows European Farmers Used What To Chase Away Birds?
If you’re looking to keep the birds away from your freshly planted (and precious) crops, it’s tough to beat the energy and zeal of children. Before using traditional decoy-of-man on a stick designs, European farmers used children armed with wooden clappers and smoky fires to keep birds away from farm land.
After the Bubonic Plague swept through Europe and decimated the population, however, there was no longer a huge surplus of children to employ in the task of field tending. While the job was briefly tended to by adults, eventually farmers turned to making scarecrows. Although the scarecrows lacked the dynamic energy of the bird-scaring children that preceded them, they worked well enough and the tradition persisted.
Although Europeans were a bit late to the scarecrow making game, other regions of the world have a long history of using man-shaped decoys to keep birds away from their crops. The Greeks, for example, originally placed wooden figures of Priapus in fields as a form of protection and appeal for good harvests. It quickly became apparent that the birds didn’t care much for the figures and the practice spread to other cultures in the immediate region.
Image by George Clausen, courtesy of the BBC.