Scare crow at city school

Searching the trees...members of St Mary's School council try to spot the crow which is causing a nuisance to everyone

Searching the trees...members of St Mary's School council try to spot the crow which is causing a nuisance to everyone

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A FEATHERED fiend is tormenting staff and pupils at a Sunderland school.

The crow is divebombing frightened children as they play at St Mary’s RC Primary School.

Parents and pupils have been tormented since the bird first began appearing at the Meadowside school in early December.

The problem has led to teachers shortening playtimes and keeping the children inside to prevent further attacks.

Headteacher Sean Brown, 55, said: “For a while now, we’ve had a crow, or I believe it is a jackdaw, that regularly appears in and around the school, especially at breaktimes.

“It is a very social bird and seems to like being around children as it has been swooping at them and sometimes landing on their heads or hats.

“The bird hasn’t hurt or injured anybody, but it has unsettled some pupils.

“We have sometimes kept pupils in if we have seen the bird and, on a couple of occasions, shortened breaktimes.

“The bird doesn’t appear everyday and we have been advised that if it is caught it could be taken to a bird sanctuary.

“We have taken advice on how to catch it from the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, the Washington Wetlands Trust and Environmental Health at the City Council.

“The school caretaker has been out trying to catch the bird but it isn’t here every day.

“We have even put up pictures of birds of prey and it has been suggested that we put up a dummy owl to scare it away.

“If anyone has anymore suggestions we’d be interested to hear them.

“A bird-scaring device has been provided by the City Council and I understand this works by imitating a distress call that could make the jackdaw feel uncomfortable, so it will move on.”

The angry bird has also been spotted around the Thornhill area.

One worried 38-year-old dad of a year two pupil at the school, who did not want to be named, said: “The bird has been hanging around the school since before Christmas.

“My daughter told me that it swoops down and pecks at the kids while they’re in the playground. She says it seems to really like hats that have got pom poms on them.

“I suppose it was a bit of a novelty at first but it’s gone on for weeks now and something needs to be done.

“The kids shouldn’t be worrying about being pecked by some mad bird while they’re playing.”

A spokesman for the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds said: “It’s no uncommon for birds to be territorial and also members of the crow family are really quite intelligent birds.

“They are quite clever and it will be protecting in it’s view it’s territory.

“It is very rare for birds of this nature to actually harm anyone.

“When it dive bombs it is very rare for it to scratch someone with its claws.”

The Echo was told a similar situation was unfolding at Castleview Enterprise Academy. The school declined to comment.

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