Scarecrow festivals are held all over the world, but they are especially popular in the United Kingdom, where the use of scarecrows as a protector of crops date from time immemorial. Scarecrows are usually built from straw and wood, but in medieval Britain, scarecrows were young boys who were tasked with the responsibility of scarring away birds. Known as bird scarers or bird shooers, they patrolled wheat fields carrying bags of stones, and chased away any crow or starling that tried to land in the fields by waving their arms and throwing the stones. When the Great Plague of of 1348 wiped half the population in Britain, landowners couldn’t find enough young boys to employ as bird scarers to protect their crops. So they stuffed sacks with straw, carved faces in turnips or gourds, and made scarecrows that stood against poles. Bird scarers continued to patrol British fields until the early 1800s when new factories and mines opened up and offered children better paying jobs.
A scarecrow of Britain's Prince George and Princess Charlotte with their nanny stands in a garden at the Scarecrow Festival in Heather, Britain, July 28, 2015. Photo credit