The crows are back in Portland — which means so are the hawks.

Each fall, crows make their migration down the Willamette River, moving from areas like Forest Park and Sauvie Island straight into the heart of downtown Portland where they can feast on the garbage and revel in the relative warmth, light and absence of predators. 

A few years ago, downtown residents began to complain of unsightly crow droppings. So the downtown business improvement district got creative and reached out to Integrated Avian Solutions, a bird abatement company.

Enter the hawks. Thousands of them swooping through downtown Portland each evening, forcing the crows to retreat. At least that’s the idea.

On Tuesday evening, Integrated Avian Solutions demonstrated how they’ve been working to get rid of the crows since 2017. The presentation, held on the steps of downtown’s Standard Insurance Center, drew an unexpectedly large crowd of bird enthusiasts. At least 100 showed up to watch. 

“Our goal is to disperse them — we’re not killing them, we’re not abusing them,” explained Kort Clayton, principal of Integrated Avian Solutions, to the crowd. “We’re just hazing them gently.”

He promised he wasn’t trying to send all the crows off to another soon-to-be poop-splattered city.

“They go in every other direction, which means they’re not as concentrated,” he said. But “they’ll be outside our core business district.” 

The crowd watched as Clayton’s hawk, a tropical male Harris’s hawk, flew off his arm and above into the night. 

Portland resident Coleen Oliva stood watching the spectacle, skeptically, from across the street.

“The crows will be back in no time,” she said. “They are in downtown for good, I think. They’re taking over the world.” 

Out-of-towner Victor Sirais pointed out that Portland was not alone in its bird problem. New York has pigeons. The Bay Area has crows as well.   

But, to Sirais, Portland still stood out in its own special way 

“I think it’s interesting that so many citizens are interested in this,” he said.