Thanksgiving Scaremonkeys

American scarecrows are adorable. These days they seem to be used for decorative purposes in the fall, but I assume they once functioned to scare actual crows (and other critters). Do they still? If so, acting as stand-ins when farmers are absent, scarecrows are literally and metaphorically the middlemen when it comes to human-crow interactions.

This Thanksgiving I would like to share with you a few pictures of Indonesian scaremonkeys- similar to American scarecrows in original purpose (to protect crops from pests) but different in design and function. The scaremonkeys I saw ranged from a sheet between two poles…

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The hope here is that the wind will blow and scare away any critters with the movement of the sheet.

…to a jacket on a stick…

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This scaremonkey was installed after a monkey had already come and damaged the unripe watermelon in the bottom right corner of the photo.

…to other more colorful and creative interpretations.

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While we can admire the resourcefulness and optimistic intent of these scaremonkeys, the truth is that both monkeys and crows are too smart for this trickery. I can’t speak for American farmers, but the best bet for the Indonesian farmers I knew was to cut out the middleman and do the monkey scaring themselves.

I guess the moral of this story is: Don’t expect too much from a sheet on a stick or a plaid shirt stuffed with straw (except for maybe some aesthetic farm charm).

Happy Thanksgiving, fellow primates!

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