Up close and personal with crow defenders Jack and Jameson on the Saddleback College baseball field. | Jacquelyn Sharga
Always standing guard.
Saddleback College’s infamous “Crow O’clock,” as the staff lovingly puts it, is a seasonal feathery phenomenon that consists of hundreds of crows migrating to the campus around sundown everyday. This occurrence not only affects the paint-jobs on many students’ and staffs’ cars, but also requires precautions to be made regarding the seed that helps the college’s baseball field stay lush and alive.
Saddleback’s Assistant baseball Coach Tony Gomes has taken preventive measures to the extreme with his fake coyote statues: Jack and Jameson. Gomes, having worked at Saddleback for seven years, devised a system using the fake coyotes, named after his two favorite alcoholic beverages, to ensure the crow hour does not affect the playing field.
“We got the coyotes, Jack and Jameson, to keep the birds off the field,” said Gomes. “We’re trying to let the grass grow and they really enjoy the seeding, it’s a lot of good eating for them. So, for our field to continue to flourish and grow, and be ready for our season, we have to keep the birds off of our field.”
Spring semester, after the time change, is when the crows are least active, but even then, there are some who just can’t shake the habit of hanging out in the quad at sunset. The Dean of Fine Arts and Media Technology, Scott Farthing, is one of the staff member’s responsible for coining the term “Crow O’clock,” but can also attest to just how crazy the crows can be during their on-season starting in late summer.
“At about 5 everyday, at certain times of the year, we have a complete invasion of big, black, loud crows,” said Farthing. “Many of us have timed when we go to our cars to avoid Crow O’clock, because that can get messy.”
Coach Gomes gave me and my OC News team crew members the honor of placing Jack and Jameson out for the night when we talked to him. It was upon offering that he made sure to specify his secret game plan to continuously duping the crows.
“We gotta keep them on their toes,” said Gomes. “Cause these birds are frickin’ smart. So, you gotta put them in a different position every day after you’re done using the field, because they’ll start to catch on if they’re in the same spot every time.”
Although seemingly simple, this tactic has proven to be extremely effective. Every Thursday morning at 9AM, I could see Jack and Jameson standing guard on the field as I walked to the science building, with not a single crow in sight.
“Crows love baseball,” said Gomes. “But we need them to not love it as much as we do for the sake of our field.”