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A grouping of scarecrows in a rice paddy in Japan

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.[1] Scarecrows are used around the world by farmers, and are a notable symbol of farms and the countryside in popular culture.


A scarecrow wearing a helmet (Japan)

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.[1] Machinery such as windmills have been employed as scarecrows, but the effectiveness lessens as animals become familiar with the structures.[2]

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.[3]

Cultural impact[edit]

Circle of scarecrow children at Joe's Scarecrow Village
Name Locale
Hodmedod.[9] Berkshire
Murmet.[10] Devon
Hay-man.[11] England
Gallybagger.[12] Isle of Wight
Tattie Bogal.[13][14][15] Isle of Skye
Tattie bogle.[9][16]>

Bodach-rocais (lit. "old man of the rooks").[11]

Mommet.[9] Somerset
Mawkin.[9] Sussex
Bwbach.[17] Wales


Scarecrow of The BFG at Norland Scarecrow Festival, West Yorkshire, England
Urchfont Scarecrow Festival, Ali Baba
  • 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.[18] Originally based on an idea imported from Derbyshire, or Kettlewell, North Yorkshire,[19] it was the first Scarecrow Festival to be established in the whole of southern England.[20]
  • 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.[20]
  • The village of Blackrod, near Bolton in Greater Manchester, holds a popular annual Scarecrow Festival over a weekend usually in early July.[20]
  • In the US, St. Charles, Illinois, hosts an annual Scarecrow Festival.[31] 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.[32][33]
  • 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.[34] Meaford, Ontario, has celebrated the Scarecrow Invasion since 1996.[35][36]
  • In the Philippines in 2015,[37] 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.[37]
  • 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.[38]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Lesley Brown (ed.). (2007). "Shorter Oxford English Dictionary on Historical Principles". 6th ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-923324-3.
  2. ^ 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.
  3. ^ Kamp, Jon (29 November 2013). "New Scarecrows for Vineyards: Car Dealers' Inflatable 'Dancing' Tube Men". Wall Street Journal. Archived from the original on 2013-11-29.
  4. ^ "Joe's Scarecrow Village". Atlas Obscura. 24 August 2010. Retrieved 30 November 2023.
  5. ^ Levius, Travis (23 July 2019). "Valley of the dolls: Inside Japan's 'Scarecrow Village'". CNN. Retrieved 30 November 2023.
  6. ^ Starkey, Ryan (7 November 2023). "Map of British English dialects". Starkey Comics. Retrieved 30 November 2023.
  7. ^ Kinsley, Austin (29 August 2015). "Bisterne Scarecrow Festival". Silent Earth. Retrieved 30 November 2023.
  8. ^ "Scarecrow words". Related words. Retrieved 30 November 2023.
  9. ^ a b c d "Scottish word of the week: Tattie-bogle". The Scotsman. 14 May 2014. Retrieved 1 December 2023.
  10. ^ "Devon: local history". British Broadcasting Company (BBC). 13 May 2009. Retrieved 1 December 2023.
  11. ^ a b Rotenberk, Lori (28 May 2014). "Hay, Man: The Curious Life and Times of Scarecrows". Modern Farmer. Retrieved 1 December 2023.
  12. ^ Phillips, Nigel (2023). "Gatcombe and Chillerton Scarecrow Festival 2024". Gallybagger. Retrieved 1 December 2023.
  13. ^ "Tattie Bogal". Alzheimer Scotland. 2023. Retrieved 1 December 2023.
  14. ^ Hellon, Lesley (2014). "Tattie Bogal". Spanglefish. Retrieved 1 December 2023.
  15. ^ "Tattie Bogal Festival". Skye Guides. 12 July 2011. Retrieved 1 December 2023.
  16. ^ Warrack, Alexander (1982). "Chambers Scots Dictionary". Chambers. ISBN 0-550-11801-2.
  17. ^ "Bwbach". Oxford Reference. 2023. Retrieved 1 December 2023.
  18. ^ Council, Urchfont Parish. "Urchfont Parish Council – Scarecrow Festival".
  19. ^ "Urchfont 25th Scarecrow Festival". Urchfont Scarecrow Festival Charity. 2023. Retrieved 30 November 2023.
  20. ^ a b c d e f "The UK's Traditional Scarecrow Festival at Its Best". TV English Club. 1 July 2023. Retrieved 30 November 2023.
  21. ^ Travis, Jo (2008). "CUTTING-EDGE OF HISTORY; DOWN YOUR WAY Jo Travis reports on a rural idyll that was once a world capital of industry". Birmingham Post & Mail Ltd.
  22. ^ Scarecrow Committee (a subcommittee of Belbroughton Parochial Church Council). "Belbroughton Scarecrow Festival".
  23. ^ "Kettlewell Scarecrow Festival draws in crowds". 2011-08-14. Retrieved 2012-07-12.
  24. ^ Banks, Georgia (23 July 2021). "County Durham village invaded by scarecrows". The Northern Echo. Retrieved 30 November 2023.
  25. ^ "Staindrop: best time to visit". Staindrop. 2023. Retrieved 30 November 2023.
  26. ^ Carter, Nicky (14 August 2022). "Characters from kids' books brought to life". Teesdale Mercury. Retrieved 30 November 2023.
  27. ^ Tiger Woods and Homer Simpson Appear at Village Scarecrow Festival, archived from the original on 2011-01-14
  28. ^ "Tattie Bogal – Home".
  29. ^ "Scarecrow Trail".
  30. ^ "No shock that Mullion Scarecrow Festival was 'best ever'". The Packet. 29 August 2014. Retrieved 30 November 2023.
  31. ^ "Scarecrow Festival".
  32. ^ Unknown, Andrew (8 February 2022). "A History Of Scarecrows". Sun and Seedlings. Retrieved 30 November 2023.
  33. ^ "Celebrating 45 years of Scarecrows in the Village". Peddler's Village. 2023. Retrieved 30 November 2023.
  34. ^ "Village hands over £13,500 – Local". Melton Times. 2010-02-09. Retrieved 2012-07-12.
  35. ^ Vance, Stephen (30 January 2023). "No Scarecrow Invasion For 2023". Meaford Independent. Retrieved 30 November 2023.
  36. ^ "Schedule of events 2023". Meaford Scarecrow Invasion. 2023. Retrieved 30 November 2023.
  37. ^ a b Abad-Bergonia, Virginia (8 February 2018). "Bambanti Festival 2018". Manila Times. Retrieved 30 November 2023 – via Province of Isabela.
  38. ^ "Guinness World Records". 7 August 2014.

Further reading[edit]

Scarecrow Fact and Fable, Peter Haining, 1986

External links[edit]

Media related to Scarecrows at Wikimedia Commons
Media related to Scarecrow festivals at Wikimedia Commons