Using scarecrows to protect agriculture from scavengers finds its roots anchored in ancient cultures around the globe. These fearsome figures acquired various looks and names throughout history but retained one common goal: To scare away predators from seeds and maturing crops from spring through fall. Scarecrows crudely designed into human likenesses confronted any thieves threatening from ground and air. These decoys guarded large fields and loomed inside small gardens. So why did the scarecrow receive its name when many other creatures stalk fields? Crows forage in flocks, return fearlessly, and cause more damage than other animals.
Egyptians constructed wood frames covered in nets to capture trespassers. Romans copied the Greeks’ more-elaborate carved wooden figure design—maybe something more to admire than to flee. German scarecrows resembled witches that were certain to chase away anything and anybody. Japanese adopted the warrior appearance, donning coats and straw hats complete with bows and arrows. Americans borrowed from these ideas and fashioned their own traditional scarecrows with cross-shaped bodies covered in tattered clothing and stuffed with hay. Their heads consisted of animal skulls or round produce topped with hats. Early German immigrants to the United States tied red handkerchiefs around scarecrows’ necks.
Scarecrow use peaked during the Great Depression but dropped dramatically after World War II when crop-dusting pesticides such as DDT covered our farmlands instead. These chemicals destroyed wildlife and any need for the humble scarecrow. Technological mechanisms such as noise guns, windmills, wind turbines, and fans replaced scarecrows almost entirely in modern society. Even CD’s and ribbons fluttering through the air discourage birds and mammals on personal and global levels.
Although scarecrows suffered popularity as an effective means of protection, they never vanished from our hearts. Many countries host scarecrow festivals and millions of homes display scarecrows as decoration during the harvest season. Find your perfect scarecrow at stores and farm stands, or craft your own!
How To Make A Traditional Scarecrow
Start by stuffing a pair of pants and a long-sleeved shirt with straw or anything that fills the space. Tuck the shirt into the pants waist and tuck the pants hem into boots, shoes, or socks. Slip shirt cuffs into front pants pockets to resemble hands, or fill gloves and tie them onto the shirt cuffs. Stuff a plain t-shirt into a round shape for the head. Decorate the face with pen, paint, or craft supplies. For the neck, run a stick up into the middle of the head and the other end of the stick down into the body. Tie a fun bandana around the neck. Top the head with more straw or a wig, and a hat. Be creative with your own scarecrow by making it any size, any species, and either gender!
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