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February 13, 2012 10:12 PM   Subscribe

Nevermore? The crows in Rochester, NY are being evicted. The City is attempting to scare off the local roost of over 20,000 birds using pyrotechnics, amplified distress calls, and laser shows. Other cities in the region are taking even more drastic measures.
posted by Jesse Hughson (87 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

 
I'd be slightly concerned. Crows aren't stupid.
posted by New England Cultist at 10:16 PM on February 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


Looks like they don't want to murder them...
posted by jcreigh at 10:20 PM on February 13, 2012 [6 favorites]


Pyrotechnics and laser shows? Tune in next week, when the city attempts to scare off their new roost of wayward Phish fans..
posted by mannequito at 10:22 PM on February 13, 2012 [31 favorites]


Here in Toronto, it didn't seem like they bounced back completely from the West Nile virus. Glad to hear they're doing well someplace.
posted by bonobothegreat at 10:22 PM on February 13, 2012


I'm fairly concerned! I also appreciate their presence as a beautiful natural resource. It always adds a boost to my day on these early winter nights seeing and hearing the roost assemble.
I do think the crows are smart enough to realize the scare tactics aren't harming them, and that the effects of the hazing will soon wear off. That is apparently what is happening in other cities, prompting them to take stronger actions.
Besides, where will they go? We have dozens of parks in this city. Even f the scare "works", they'll just go a few minutes down the road. What a waste of tax dollars...
posted by Jesse Hughson at 10:26 PM on February 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


Scientists say dolphins may be close to human in intelligence. That may be true. I've never met a dolphin. (Well, I did pet one that seemed to delight in racing alongside the prow of the boat I was on, but it's not like we sat down for coffee or anything.)

I think crows are the smartest animal. I've had years-long relationships with crows.

I fed a crow once. It was winter. He looked hungry. I was standing on my patio eating a ham sammich. So I tore some off and tossed it at him. He fixed an eye on me. I stayed immobile. He ate the sammich. I went inside. The next day, I was making coffee, and there's a crow on the patio. I tossed out some stale bread. This goes on. Eventually, I had the crow (now accompanied by his extended family) hanging out on the patio pretty much all the time.

So that fall we had a party and I got really stupidly drunk. I went out to the patio to puke in the bushes. And then I sat down in a lawn chair. And passed out.

I woke up the next morning feeling like death and there was a row of crows perched on a nearby tree. And one crow (the crow? I like to think so.) sitting on my KNEE, with what I swear was a look of concern.

Crows are smart.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 10:28 PM on February 13, 2012 [103 favorites]


Yes, because the last time people tried something like this, it worked out so well.
posted by C^3 at 10:28 PM on February 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


Our local roost of probably 5,000+ (Waterloo, Ontario) was kind of creepy, but interesting and OK when it was mostly in a city park. When they recently moved to my neighbourhood, it was kind of a mess and goddamn annoying in the early morning. Several nights we successfully scared crows off our trees just by opening up an umbrella. Unfortunately, the city didn't provide us with a laser show.
posted by parudox at 10:39 PM on February 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


BitterOldPunk, crows eat carrion. That crow was waiting for you to die.

Just kidding! Probably! I love crows!
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 10:41 PM on February 13, 2012 [29 favorites]


In the middle of Buffalo, NY is a massive graveyard. Thousands and thousands of crows will live in it for part of the year. When they take flight en masse it is one of the most striking things I have ever seen.

Add some fireworks and a laser show and the entire city will crap their pants.
posted by munchingzombie at 10:45 PM on February 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


As previously pointed out on the Blue, crows are one animal species that actually thrives in man-made environments. You will have to drive the species extinct with years of globally-coordinated extermination campaigns before you will be rid of them. Also, as that video shows, rows are smart and trainable. It would not be hard to set up systems where they are paid in food to collect garbage, roost where is most convenient for us, hunt for lost valuables and currency, and so on. Put them to work for us rather than conduct pogroms against them.

Our lack of imagination and our casual brutality in this regard says a lot about the morality of us. As I posted previosuly, John Dolan has a lot to say about the contrasting morality of crows.
posted by clarknova at 10:59 PM on February 13, 2012 [15 favorites]


In Japan, crows are very large, and can cause damage to crops. Farmers scare away the crows by tying black rags to poles. I realized why one day when I saw an actual dead crow dangling from a pole in the middle of a rice field.

Beautiful creatures, though.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:00 PM on February 13, 2012


crows eat carrion. That crow was waiting for you to die.

Yeah, well, he can fucking get in line.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 11:12 PM on February 13, 2012 [55 favorites]


Wouldn't it be easier to try to establish urban owls?
posted by dhartung at 11:22 PM on February 13, 2012


I saw this phenomenon for the first time in Nov and Dec of '11 in Rochester, MN as well. It was a tad freaky. They used laser pointers up there and those got the crows to take flight pretty effectively. Something tells me it won't deter them for long, though. They also tried air horns, but the crows seemed to simply ignore those. The worst part was walking on the sidewalks. Let's just say I wore a hat or hood whenever I was out at night when the crows were roosting above.
posted by InsertNiftyNameHere at 11:24 PM on February 13, 2012


I once spotted a crow who had found part of a stale donut -- powdered sugar variety. He was dunking it into a puddle, not unlike how you might dunk a donut in a cup of coffee. It was awesome.

Crows are pretty badass. My money's on them.
posted by That's Numberwang! at 11:30 PM on February 13, 2012


At least one group in Rochester is protesting the removal. As protest groups do these days, they are organized on Facebook and have an online petition.
posted by knile at 11:34 PM on February 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


When I was just a young un, my ma was teaching me to drive. I was going at a reasonable clip when I looked up and saw a squirrel in the road. I hit the brakes. My mom laughed. No need to hit the brakes she said, squirrels and birds always move. Just don't speed up. If you hit the brakes, the person behind you may not react as fast. I filed that little tidbit of wisdom away. About a year later I am driving on a local road when I see a crow pecking at what looked like a dead squirrel in the road. I just drove on thinking he would fly away. As I got closer, he wasn't as worried as I seemed to be. He did take off at the last second. Hit my windshield. It was the worst sound and the most sickening feeling I had had in my life. I stopped and looked in the rear view mirror. All I saw was a crow sort of shaking himself off and limping, really slowly toward the dead squirrel. He was sort of laughing as if the whole thing was a big game. Reminded me of my friends and I skitching in the snow behind school buses. We'd fall, have big welts and laugh and try again.
posted by AugustWest at 11:37 PM on February 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


When I was in college the crows seemed to like the campus as a roosting area. They would all get in this big tree near my dorm window overnight. It was creepy and weird. What I hated, though was all the shit on the sidewalks.

I once saw a bunch of crows sitting in a parking lot. Like hundreds of them just sitting out there on the ground. Really creepy.
posted by delmoi at 11:50 PM on February 13, 2012


I hope the crows haze back.
posted by New England Cultist at 12:37 AM on February 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


The only bird with personality around here is an owl that perches on nearby branches in between raining terror upon the small mammal population. He blasts his call at all hours, usually after attacking something.

I'd love to have some crows take up residence.
posted by empyrean at 12:55 AM on February 14, 2012


I love crows and other corvids. The roost in the GVRD (out in Bby) is rumoured to be 20k crows and I can believe it.

Once, just to see how crazy it could get around the roosting area, when we walked through a parking lot on the outer edge we threw down our fries. It was hilarious, awesome and surreal at the same time.

Seagulls will go for pizza, crows prefer fries. That's the general way of thing in urban birdlife and junkfood cycles.
posted by Salmonberry at 1:02 AM on February 14, 2012


The City is attempting to scare off the local roost of over 20,000 birds using pyrotechnics, amplified distress calls, and laser shows.

Hmm... "shock and awe", eh? Didn't really work so great in Iraq, I don't think it's gonna faze the crows.

I have a great love and respect for these amazing birds, who, as many of you may know, live by the thousands here in Tokyo. HUGE crow population. It's in the millions, for all I know. I photograph them constantly. I spend a fair amount of time, on a daily basis, waiting for some crow on a wire to TAKE OFF, FOR FUCK'S SAKE, so I can get an in-flight shot.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 1:52 AM on February 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


I miss the crows.

They really are a stunning natural phenomenon that brightened the long gray winter.
posted by vitabellosi at 1:57 AM on February 14, 2012


Oh, and, some good crow info in the linked articles. Thanks for the post!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 1:57 AM on February 14, 2012


I once saw a bunch of crows sitting in a parking lot. Like hundreds of them just sitting out there on the ground. Really creepy.

I saw something like that in a park. Dozens, perhaps even hundreds of crows. But I didn't find it creepy, on the contrary: the crows were cawing at each other in such a formal manner, that they made me think of a parliament of crows.

Of course, the motion discussed was probably about who should get first pick at my eyeballs, but still, it was a funny image.

As for their intelligence: on another occasion, I was walking down the street when suddenly I heard a loud crash on the opposite sidewalk, which was entirely empty. Then another crash. And another. I looked at the windows, but there was nobody there. The houses were derelict and possibly abandoned. Finally, after a while, I found the source of the projectiles that were raining down on the sidewalk: a crow on a roof, was removing the tiles one by one and throwing them down, apparently just for the sake of it, cawing quietly at each crash.

Crows: the avian Vyvyans.
posted by Skeptic at 2:18 AM on February 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Sounds like The Birds waiting to happen for real considering how crows hold grudges
posted by astapasta24 at 2:19 AM on February 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


I spent 4 years in Austin, TX, where crows are reasonably scarce (in favor of the nasty and mean-spirited grackle). It was one of the things that made me saddest about Austin -- crows are always cheerful, even if they are mocking me because I have to go work, and they get to hang around, eating the occasional dead squirrel.
posted by GenjiandProust at 2:46 AM on February 14, 2012


Crows using traffic to crack walnut [SLYT]

The walnut cracking isn't even the most impressive part.
posted by New England Cultist at 2:57 AM on February 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


I once rescued a baby crow from the window well in front of my flat where it was cornered by a cat. It then followed me around for the rest of day and kept trying to get in the apartment. It was like he had some sort of Native American obligation belief where I had to look after him from then on because I saved him.

Crows now freak me out. The cat on the other hand was like "Meh...whatevs" and we now go for a pint together every sunday.
posted by srboisvert at 3:03 AM on February 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


There's a pond at my workplace that crows would take freshwater clams out of, fly up to the top of a light pole, and then just drop them, letting gravity handle the smashing open of the clam shell. I had heard this story from a coworker but hadn't observed it myself until months later in the parking lot, I heard the sound of a clam hitting the pavement.

Some people don't park their cars under light poles for fear of bird droppings decorating your vehicle. We also get crow-mitigated clam precipitation.
posted by Seboshin at 3:08 AM on February 14, 2012 [4 favorites]


The City’s “experts” plan to deploy methods such as noise-makers, pyrotechnics, and spotlights to disperse the roost, or at least break it up into smaller chunks.

Hmm... what would annoy me more, birds crap on the sidewalk or the city blasting noise-makers, pyrotechnics, and spotlights?

I hope the crows crap on the city council.
posted by pracowity at 3:28 AM on February 14, 2012 [6 favorites]


Owls. Lots and lots of owls.

And afterward, to deal with the owls, hawks. Lots and lots of hawks.

And to get rid of the hawks, lots and lots of crows.
posted by crunchland at 3:30 AM on February 14, 2012 [13 favorites]


In my small university town we have quite a crow problem. My residence building has speakers that intermittently play predatory bird noises to discourage the crows from waking us all up at 5am and making a mess.

It was only a couple years ago when I learned the rumour about the guy who drives around in a van playing predatory bird noises is actually true. It's a re-election van with speakers on the top.
posted by sarae at 3:38 AM on February 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


In my small university town we have quite a crow problem.

Has it ever occurred to you that the crows have a people problem??
posted by parrot_person at 3:58 AM on February 14, 2012 [11 favorites]


Read in an old book about the birds of Washington State about how the crows there would get their lunch.

Along Puget Sound in the 1800's were sawmills, and many of the sawmills would keep a small herd of pigs that would sleep in the sawdust piles and root for shellfish along the shore.

The local crows (likely fish crows) saw this and one would fly out and land on a pig's back. The pig would try to shake it off, but the crow would just flap and hang on. The pig would go back to rooting up clams, and as soon it it popped one out, the crow would jump down, steal the clam and fly off. Then the next crow would swoop in for its turn on the pig's back.
posted by tommyD at 4:07 AM on February 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


My residence building has speakers that intermittently play predatory bird noises to discourage the crows from waking us all up at 5am and making a mess.

I know college kids don't like to get up before noon, and I know that stepping in bird shit now and then is not nice, but I honestly would enjoy having "too many" (?) birds in town. Spending $24,000 to scare away birds is not a resource allocation I would make. Crows getting me up at 5 am would be no caws for alarm.
posted by pracowity at 4:13 AM on February 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


Bil Gilbert, the founder of the American Society of Crows and Ravens, passed away two weeks ago at his home in Gettysburg, Pa.
posted by tommyD at 4:18 AM on February 14, 2012


I watched the entire Mt. Hope cemetery roost gather last fall. It was a half hour long birdstorm, and it was quite possibly one of the coolest and most terrifying things I've ever seen.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 4:22 AM on February 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


Besides, where will they go?

Probably into my front yard, Jesse Hughson. I mean, even if they succeed in scaring them out of downtown, it'll just push them slightly outwards.
posted by tyllwin at 5:12 AM on February 14, 2012


I'd be slightly concerned. Crows aren't stupid.

There's one area in the world, I think maybe London? Not sure. Anyway, they have a bad crow problem, and they keep having power outages due to the nests they build out of coat hangers. (Metal coat hangers are some of the best nest material for a crow, because they can bend it into precisely the shape they want... they'll grab them right off the clotheslines when they can.) So they've started up squads of line repairmen to preemptively find and remove crow nests from power lines.

So now the crows are building decoy nests, to distract the humans from the real things.

The sheer intelligence that requires is frightening.
posted by Malor at 5:12 AM on February 14, 2012 [32 favorites]


I think crows are the smartest animal.

I grew up in raven territory; there is a group which lives in the city and is around my house every day. I really love watching (and hearing!) them go about their business.

Ravens : Crows :: Humans : Chimpanzees
posted by D.C. at 5:21 AM on February 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


Penn State does this with its crows. For a while they would hang effigies of dead crows from the trees as a warning. I'm not sure if they still do that but it was creepy as hell when they did; occasionally one would fall down and I'd see it and assume we were about to be living in The Stand before I realized what was going on.

Anyway, they only do it on campus so the crows all end up roosting in the surrounding neighborhoods instead, which I'm sure is great for town/gown relations.
posted by jackflaps at 5:22 AM on February 14, 2012


Attempted Murder
posted by blue_beetle at 5:23 AM on February 14, 2012 [6 favorites]


This was on the English language der spiegel site the other day: crow hunting clubs. Crows are amazing animals but the Louisiana fish and game department considers them vermin and they are one of the few species you can kill 365 days a year no license required.
posted by bukvich at 5:24 AM on February 14, 2012


I love crows and I look forward all year to their winter flocking behavior. Once I walked through the city's main park just at sunset when thousands and thousands of crows had roosted in the trees, so many that they weighed the trees down. Another time, the Official Local Flock roosted in the trees around and down the street from my house.

I guess I'm not really sure what the problem is. People tolerate nasty, mean geese and their abominable shit and seem to consider the whole thing decorative. Crows are nice and smart and have interesting social behavior, plus they look absolutely beautiful against the sky when a flock is passing.
posted by Frowner at 5:49 AM on February 14, 2012 [5 favorites]


Has it ever occurred to you that the crows have a people problem??
posted by parrot_person


Yeah, like you are all objective, Ms. Avian-Identified!
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:53 AM on February 14, 2012 [7 favorites]


And to get rid of the hawks, lots and lots of crows.

I like the cut of your jib, Sir! We can set up a society to arrange this with several different municipalities, and then we can just move the birds from one are to the next in line. Eventually, they will just migrate on their own! It is a win-win situation!
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:57 AM on February 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


And afterward, to deal with the owls, hawks. Lots and lots of hawks.

Hmm. I don't know - depends on the owls, and the hawks. Great horned owls will kill and eat sleeping raptors (I once found the wings, feet, and head of a juvenile RTHA that was victim to a GRHO).

We've got a roost across the street from our house, in the eucalyptus that line the freeway. In the evenings, one crow will sit on the flagpole at the top of the house across our backyard, and call and call. The rest of the troop will call back as they begin to assemble; if you stand on our back porch, you can see them flying in from all directions, though south seems to be the most popular - that's where the dump is.

Corvids are pretty great.
posted by rtha at 6:11 AM on February 14, 2012 [4 favorites]


There's a pond at my workplace that crows would take freshwater clams out of, fly up to the top of a light pole, and then just drop them, letting gravity handle the smashing open of the clam shell.

I watch crows do this with mussels outside my office all the time. Some of the local seagulls try and imitate them, but don't quite seem to drop the shells from high enough.

I could be reading into this behaviour a bit though. I love how smart crows are and it's amusing to see lesser species imitate crows but not understand the physics behind what they're doing.
posted by good in a vacuum at 6:26 AM on February 14, 2012


I doubt it's bravery that makes an individual crow among 30,000 crows stay. It's a Nash equilibrium at that level to stay exactly where she is. Tom Schelling wrote about the kind of thing in his book on micro foundations of large collective action situations like this. You sometimes see it referred to as strategic complementarities in the scale of the community involved. The crows benefit of sitting still is increasing in the size of the crowd in some dimensions, for instance. Especially if theres predators around. The predator is guaranteed to find a crow in a crowd of 30,000 crows but the probability the predator gets me (I'm a crow in this example) is 1:30,000. Pretty good odds. If I switch to a community of one, I'm dead.

I'm not sure how you break up an equilibrium like this once it forms as if it is a Nash equilibrium, it's about as strong a feedback happening across all 30,000 players simultaneously as can be. And I seriously doubt it's fear and courage driving it as much as adaptive rationality. Herding is a very strong evolutionary trait offering a lot of benefit. My only question is about food sources. But it says it's a city so theres crap likely everywhere. Sounds like a bad deal for the city.
posted by scunning at 6:30 AM on February 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


People tolerate nasty, mean geese and their abominable shit and seem to consider the whole thing decorative.

When I lived in the Twin Cities, pretty much everyone I knew except my wife wanted the geese exterminated with extreme prejudice. I proposed letting loose mountain lions every night in each burb and at the city lakes. Of course, you'd want to bring your pets in at night and it'd be one way to keep the teenagers in line.
posted by Ber at 6:33 AM on February 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


they keep having power outages due to the nests they build out of coat hangers. -- According to the episode of Nova I watched last week, that city is Tokyo. It's not online yet, but should be soon.

It is a win-win situation! -- We've got trouble, right here in River City! With a capital T, and that rhymes with C, and that stands for crows!
posted by crunchland at 6:38 AM on February 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


Perhaps if the city used this money to clean up crow-attracting garbage (and train its citizens to do the same) they'd move on on their own? Or are humans just too prone to throwing food around to train? If so, then it's our fault for being too dumb not to attract crows with our garbage.

We have similar problems with grackles in Texas. Much as I hate grackles, they were smart enough to find a niche and exploit it, and these kinds of methods don't do much to get rid of them either. Because so long as there are parking lots strewn with french fries, some bird will be there.
posted by emjaybee at 6:41 AM on February 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


Crows are smart.

And they hold a grudge.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:52 AM on February 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


I work across the street from the Rochester park the crows call home (also home of Occupy Rochester). The amount of bird shit on the park benches and other horizontal surfaces is mind-boggling. They are also incredibly loud, which isn't surprising for crows but you have to factor in the numbers. I have never seen such a large number of birds, regardless of type, in one place before. The only upside is they're not there all day, they just roost there in the evenings.

The problem with getting them out of the park is that they'll just go somewhere else.
posted by tommasz at 6:54 AM on February 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


"Also, as that video shows, rows are smart and trainable. It would not be hard to set up systems where they are paid in food to collect garbage, roost where is most convenient for us, hunt for lost valuables and currency, and so on."

WHAT I WANT TO LIVE IN THIS WORLD.

"People tolerate nasty, mean geese and their abominable shit and seem to consider the whole thing decorative."

Ugh, no. Where I'm from, municipalities hire or purchase goose-hating swans to populate retention ponds. They even come (allegedly) trained. Some places open their public parks to off-leash herding dogs during goose migration season to chase and scare the geese to keep the shit quotient down.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 6:56 AM on February 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Some places open their public parks to off-leash herding dogs during goose migration season to chase and scare the geese...

WHERE
posted by griphus at 7:04 AM on February 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


Some places open their public parks to off-leash herding dogs during goose migration season to chase and scare the geese...

Brighton, a suburb of Rochester, did that to rid one pond of geese. In addition, they coated their eggs with olive oil to basically suffocate the embryos and cause the eggs not to hatch. With no chicks to raise the geese were more likely to move on to another location.
posted by tommasz at 7:28 AM on February 14, 2012


Yeah - a few years ago, there was a geese ... I dunno ... scare off attempt? hunt? I don't know. I didn't know they had massive shit problems, but it made me sad to see geese as "problems" (aside from them being complete jackasses who honk at you and attack you if you get too close -- christ, those fuckers are big). This was in Madison, which made me doubly sad. Liberal Madison attacking animals! (I know, not all anti-animal activity is unhealthy).

But leave the fucking hawks alone. I <3 birds of prey (well mostly hawks and falcons, not a huge eagle fan, for some reason).

But corvus? Ravens and crows are also so very very awesome.

As is Drinky Crow (may not be safe for work? no nudity just... you know... drunk crow and stupid monkey and sexy 20s flapper looking captain's daughter and crude humor).
posted by symbioid at 7:29 AM on February 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


emjaybee-
That's obviously such a great solution. I hate so much that people can't be bothered to wait just a tiny bit to walk past a trash can or put the trash in their car until they get home or any fucking other thing besides just chucking it to the ground. I'm sure public trash cans aren't a hindrance to crows, but here in bear country most people seem to adopt methods with better trash can design/habits. The biggest problem is all the damn ski tourists that throw trash wherever. I doubt it could ever happen but if everyone could realize that a 'pest' (I love crows, don't consider them pests) problem a lot of times can be solved with cleanliness. But good luck changing habits.
posted by Phantomx at 7:29 AM on February 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


When I worked at a college a few years ago, we had a monster legion of crows who liked to nest in the trees in the main entrance park. Sometimes a million billion crows would be crowded into those trees and just maintaining dead silence and that was pretty cool. Other times I guess something interesting was going on in crow town because they would be cartoonishly raucous and it was deafening.

But let's talk about the shit on the ground. It was literally inches deep in some spots and had a texture that was impossible to get used to. It was like someone mixed birdshit with mashed up weatabix and it was just so detailed that you couldn't ignore it even if it didn't have a rich, singular aroma that you also couldn't get used to. That park was a really good shortcut so anyone interested in economy of movement really had to come to terms with this shit ocean.

Eventually the school started firing some kind of propane cannon at them and they moved down the road. I ended up having a job interview in a building near their new location. I was seated in front of a massive arched window during the interview and as soon as the guy asked me what I had in mind for a salary range, the crows took to the sky all at once, swirling and churning around against the bleak overcast scenery behind me like the apocalypse and I said "I don't know... 42k?"
posted by SharkParty at 7:36 AM on February 14, 2012 [4 favorites]


When upstate NY towns I know of that go through the ritual of "crow hazing" (Auburn is the most written about in the media), few have more than limited or temporary success. This year a lot of the controversy in these parts has been over crow hunts.
posted by aught at 7:48 AM on February 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


As emjaybee implied, perhaps they should be grateful for the crows. At least someone is cleaning up the garbage with them around.
posted by Stagger Lee at 8:26 AM on February 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


But leave the fucking hawks alone. I <3 birds of prey (well mostly hawks and falcons, not a huge eagle fan, for some reason).

Ooh, ooh, I will be a pedant for just one second!

Birds like redtails, kestrels, peregrines, and bald and golden eagles are all under the umbrella of "hawk" and "raptor." Red-tailed hawks are buteos; kestrels and peregrines are falcons; golden eagles are "true" eagles (Aquila), and bald eagles are (currently) classed with sea eagles (Haliaeetus). Bird taxonomy is complicated and always shifting.

/pendantry
posted by rtha at 8:30 AM on February 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


/pendantry

/pedantry

heh
posted by pracowity at 8:56 AM on February 14, 2012 [10 favorites]


Oh fuck. Stupid lack of caffeine. At least I got it right the first time.
posted by rtha at 9:02 AM on February 14, 2012


rtha, luring people into correcting the spelling or pronunciation of pedant is one of life's greatest joys, enjoy the moment.
posted by Stagger Lee at 9:09 AM on February 14, 2012 [6 favorites]


That second comma should really be a semicolon, though a comma followed by a coordinating conjunction such as "so" would work.
posted by pracowity at 9:50 AM on February 14, 2012


Well, apparently we have a low-tech solution to the crowpoop problem here in BC: umbrellas. Seriously, I'm just glad to see all the crow-lovers on here. I thought I was the only one.
posted by Listener at 9:56 AM on February 14, 2012


Bah, I never see the winter crow roosts. I don't know if they don't do it here (Wi) or if they have just always roosted somewhere I haven't seen. I do enjoy the crows in the neighborhood though, it seems like a small family group around 10-15 individuals. Ever year they break into smaller groups and nest some place nearby and I often get to see the fledglings hanging out in the trees either in my yard or neighbors. They make very silly noises you don't hear the adults make too.

I did see a big flock coming to roost in seattle once, though there was a big wind storm that day and according to the seattle natives taking me to see them, there were far fewer than there should have been, probably hunkering down somewhere rather than risking flying in the storm.

I really wish people would learn to live with crows. For the most part they're harmless, but they're one of the few native songbirds that you can hunt or kill en mass as a pest. And that makes me sad.
posted by [insert clever name here] at 10:01 AM on February 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


If humans can't live with the animals that are specifically adapted to live in our urban areas, then maybe we should stop covering the earth with them.
posted by psycho-alchemy at 10:10 AM on February 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Well, it seems in my area at least, attitudes have changed in 20 years and authorities aren't going to be trying to eradicate crows, even though some people still complain. Funny that the crows pick the Still Creek area, which is partly residential, rather than places like Burnaby Lake nearby, which has a bird sanctuary and all. I guess no one really knows why they choose the places they do. Would be interesting to be able to that precisely. A 2006 article on the question, with more people considering it a problem. A 2011 article that says they gather together for safety against predators, and they don't like dense forest. So, basically, they prefer the habitat we create for them.
posted by Listener at 10:18 AM on February 14, 2012


Stagger Lee, where were you when I needed you? I mispronounced pedant to a group of pedants, with predictable results.

Corvids are really cool. The ravens of the Tower of London are are traditionally believed to protect the Crown and the Tower; a superstition suggests that "If the Tower of London ravens are lost or fly away, the Crown will fall and Britain with it." Sadly, they clip their wings as a guarantee.

Ravenmaster would be an awesome title on one's business card.
posted by Mom at 10:28 AM on February 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


The City is attempting to scare off the local roost of over 20,000 birds using pyrotechnics, amplified distress calls, and laser shows.

Not only do i think this will be ineffective, I fear it might attract an even bigger problem.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 10:46 AM on February 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


I really wish people would learn to live with crows. For the most part they're harmless.

Crows are one of the major predators of smaller song birds by eating their eggs and hatchlings. Crows moving into new environments can have significant impacts on small bird populations. This is the reason that you will see red-winged blackbirds mobbing crows, just like crows mob hawks.
posted by JackFlash at 11:07 AM on February 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


I remember reading that the Golden Gate park in San Francisco had an official hawk and corvid hunter from the late 1890's up to 1945 or so.

Golden Gate park is a fully artificial environment, built on top of sand dunes for the most part, and it took a full time hunter of predators to allow small bird species to establish permanent populations.

He was so good that in the 1920's and 1930's no mention of crows, ravens or hawks are made in any Golden Gate Park bird watching guides.

It took less than two years after the hunter position was retired for ravens and crows to show up again, so good luck with this effort.

It is lots of fun to see the ravens surf the breeze where the park meets the ocean. They are way better surfers than the apes in wetsuits paddling in the water.
posted by Ayn Rand and God at 12:29 PM on February 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


The problem with getting them out of the park is that they'll just go somewhere else.

That's what they say about Occupy Rochester!
posted by vitabellosi at 5:27 PM on February 14, 2012 [5 favorites]


As much it pains me to read about these poor fools hassling my sisters and brothers, I love any post that brings out the crow stories.
posted by Corvid at 6:25 PM on February 14, 2012 [4 favorites]


I have a great love and respect for these amazing birds, who, as many of you may know, live by the thousands here in Tokyo. HUGE crow population.

Another Tokyoite here, and I can attest to the crows, it's really quite amazing how many there are. And we're not talking about blackbirds, but these rather huge and scary things the size of a housecat. Jet black. The blackest black you've ever seen, covering every inch except perhaps the whites of their eyes. Really, the blackness of these creatures is hypnotic, especially when you see them up close and the sunlight it shining directly on them.

Anyhoo, the Tokyo government is baffled how to control the population. They try to do culls, but they don't work. Crows aren't exactly dangerous, but when one suddenly swoops down and snatches the food out of your hand as you're walking down the sidewalk it can be freaky. They're *smart*, too; they know what time of day people usually throw out garbage, and will wait to pounce. There are laws about appropriate times to put your garbage out for collection--you can't put it out the night before as the crows will break open bags and spread it all over the street. You have a window in the morning to throw it out.
posted by zardoz at 7:22 PM on February 14, 2012


Another fun tidbit.
posted by Jesse Hughson at 8:59 PM on February 14, 2012


It's not online yet, but should be soon. -- Aha! No wonder I couldn't find it. It wasn't Nova. It was Nature.

Watch A Murder of Crows
posted by crunchland at 3:00 AM on February 15, 2012


And for those in Canada or who can watch the CBC's videos, A Murder of Crows, Nature of Things style.
posted by sarae at 3:03 AM on February 15, 2012


Ahh ha ha that's right! Planet's ours, birdtches! No no, there is literally NO ROOM FOR THESE SHOEBOX-SIZED CREATURES. WE NEED THAT ROOM FOR ACTUAL SHOEBOXES.
posted by tumid dahlia at 4:40 AM on February 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Ain't even any shoes in 'em lol it's just old Allen keys and Fleshlight receipts and the remains of our childhood Micro Machine collections.
posted by tumid dahlia at 4:53 AM on February 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


Mostly, I see the crows in my neighborhood in small groups. This morning, walking to work at 6am, there was a cloud of them circling around in the sky cawing like crazy. I think they were letting me know they read Metafilter and my weak pseudonym is no protection from corvid search skillz.....
posted by GenjiandProust at 9:22 AM on February 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


crunchland: "Watch A Murder of Crows"

That was a really awesome episode. Thanks for posting that!
posted by InsertNiftyNameHere at 9:38 AM on February 19, 2012


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