A scarecrow is an artificially made material that frightens or causes fear to the surrounding objects, mostly as a decoy or mannequin that is often in the shape of a human. Humanoid scarecrows are usually dressed in old clothes and placed in open fields to discourage birds from disturbing and feeding on recently cast seed and growing crops. Scarecrows are used around the world by farmers, and are a notable symbol of farms and the countryside in popular culture.
The common form of a scarecrow is a humanoid figure dressed in old clothes and placed in open fields to discourage birds such as crows or sparrows from disturbing and feeding on recently cast seed and growing crops. Machinery such as windmills have been employed as scarecrows, but the effectiveness lessens as animals become familiar with the structures.
Since the invention of the humanoid scarecrow, more effective methods have been developed. On California farmland, highly-reflective aluminized PET film ribbons are tied to the plants to produce shimmers from the sun. Another approach is using automatic noise guns powered by propane gas. One winery in New York has even used inflatable tube men or airdancers to scare away birds.
- Joe's Scarecrow Village in Cape Breton, Canada, was a roadside attraction displaying dozens of scarecrows.
- The Japanese village of Nagoro, on the island of Shikoku in the Tokushima Prefecture, has 35 inhabitants but more than 350 scarecrows.
- In the United Kingdom, where there are a few different languages and several different dialects, there are a wide range of alternative names such as:
|Gallybagger.||Isle of Wight|
|Tattie Bogal.||Isle of Skye|
Bodach-rocais (lit. "old man of the rooks").
- In England, the Urchfont Scarecrow Festival was established in the 1990s and has become a major local event, attracting up to 10,000 people annually for the May Day Bank Holiday. Originally based on an idea imported from Derbyshire, or Kettlewell, North Yorkshire, it was the first Scarecrow Festival to be established in the whole of southern England.
- Belbroughton, north Worcestershire, holds an annual Scarecrow Weekend on the last weekend of each September since 1996, which raises money for local charities. The village of Meerbrook in Staffordshire holds an annual Scarecrow Festival during the month of May. Tetford and Salmonby, Lincolnshire, jointly host one.
- The festival at Wray, Lancashire, was established in the early 1990s and continues to the present day. In the village of Orton, Eden, Cumbria scarecrows are displayed each year, often using topical themes such as a Dalek exterminating a Wind turbine to represent local opposition to a wind farm.
- The village of Blackrod, near Bolton in Greater Manchester, holds a popular annual Scarecrow Festival over a weekend usually in early July.
- Norland, West Yorkshire, has a Scarecrow festival. Kettlewell in North Yorkshire has held an annual festival since 1994. The villages of Cotherstone, Staindrop, and Middleton-in-Teesdale in County Durham have annual scarecrow festivals.
- Scotland's first scarecrow festival was held in West Kilbride, North Ayrshire, in 2004, and there is also one held in Montrose. On the Isle of Skye, the Tattie bogal event is held each year, featuring a scarecrow trail and other events. Tonbridge in Kent also host an annual Scarecrow Trail, organised by the local Rotary Club to raise money for local charities. Gisburn, Lancashire, held its first Scarecrow Festival in June 2014.
- In the US, St. Charles, Illinois, hosts an annual Scarecrow Festival. Peddler's Village in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, hosts an annual scarecrow festival and presents a scarecrow display in September–October that draws tens of thousands of visitors.
- The "pumpkin people" come in the autumn months in the valley region of Nova Scotia, Canada. They are scarecrows with pumpkin heads applied to them doing various things such as playing the fiddle or riding a wooden horse. Hickling, in the south of Nottinghamshire, is another village that celebrates an annual scarecrow event. It is very popular and has successfully raised a great deal of money for charity. Meaford, Ontario, has celebrated the Scarecrow Invasion since 1996.
- In the Philippines in 2015, the Province of Isabela started a scarecrow festival named after the local language: the Bambanti Festival. The province invites all its cities and towns to participate for the festivities, which last a week; it has drawn tourists from around the island of Luzon.
- The largest gathering of scarecrows in one location is 3,812 and was achieved by National Forest Adventure Farm in Burton-upon-Trent, Staffordshire, UK, on 7 August 2014.
A scarecrow known as "Bungkhyachaa" in Nepali in a cauliflower field in Nepal
Scarecrow near Hui'an, China
Scarecrow. Drawing by Carus. Postcard from 1910–1915.
Scarecrow in Belgium
Scarecrow at Madikai Ambalathukara
- Bird scarer
- Straw man (dummy)
- Kunekune (urban legend)
- Ting mong
- Lesley Brown (ed.). (2007). "Shorter Oxford English Dictionary on Historical Principles". 6th ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-923324-3.
- Hartshorne, Henry (1881), The Household Cyclopedia of General Information, New York: Thomas Kelly,
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.
Additionally, the humanoid frame of the traditional scarecrow was thought to aid in deterring the birds. 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 people now, however, believe that crows like most other birds, do more good by destroying insects and worms, etc., than harm by eating grain.
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Scarecrow Fact and Fable, Peter Haining, 1986