September 28, 2003

Counting Crows

More and more crows are flocking to more and more towns and cities, and more and more people don't know who to shoot. This, from an Orion Magazine piece by Peter Sauer...

"No one understands the cause-and-effect relationship, but over the next decade crows began to prefer urban over forest trees for roosting. Ornithologists speculate that lighted city trees may allow the birds to escape from great horned owls. Whatever the reason, by the end of the '80s crows were roosting in small cities from Maine to Ohio, Mississippi to Michigan, and virtually every attempt to drive them away spread them into new neighborhoods and increased their numbers. Though the critical crow-mass varied from city to city, the dilemma it triggered was the same. Humane crow removal programs were expensive and notoriously ineffective while methods that involved killing "innocent" crows were intolerable to many citizens."

Solution: Turn the problem into a grand war with the wildlife! Give everybody guns! Call it a tournament!

[...] The tournament began on the gray, still morning of Saturday, February 1, 2003 -- one month before the anticipated start of the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Before dawn, the first protesters spread dog and cat food beneath city trees to entice the birds to stay and feed in the city, where discharging firearms is illegal. In the countryside, meanwhile, the hunters set up decoys and crow-calling sound systems around their blinds.

Suffice it to say, they have not found the "final solution" against the crows.

[...] By replacing real crows with abstractions, both sides were diminishing their own humanity. But then, this dispute had come to have little to do with crows. This was February 2003, when the abstractions du jour were collateral damage and shock and awe. The tournament was a ritual for a human society preparing its flocks for war.

Wonder if they ever thought of baking them in a pie?

Posted by fred1st at September 28, 2003 04:37 AM | TrackBack

We have a similar problem with flying foxes in our urban trees.Here's a link

Posted by: Jenny at September 28, 2003 06:01 AM

In Davis there are thousands of crows. They have been coming back to roost downtown after an absence of several years due to a particularly inventive (and effective) deterrent: an august member of the city council would play a tape of a crow getting murdered. You know, as in nailed. The other crows got out of Dodge, fast.

I don't know if anyone still has the tape or knows what to do with it, but the crows are there by the thousands again!

Posted by: Pica at September 29, 2003 09:32 AM

Hey Fred,
this entry is causing your whole page to look odd in the mozilla browsers (firebird in this case)
I narrowed it down in the source to the ""
Right After:
The hunters were invoking the old rural icon of the crow as sinister surrogate for villainy

Might want to look into that.


Posted by: Jeremiah at September 29, 2003 10:52 PM

That was a bit more vague than I indended.

What I meant to say was, if you remove the
offending "" the page will render correctly.

Right now, it's making 2 columns of posts and moving your calender, and the picture of you, down to the bottom of the page.

Posted by: Jeremiah at September 29, 2003 11:32 PM

I've noticed that city crows are relatively fearless when compared to country crows. On a nearby college campus I can come within eight feet of a crow, while in the country I'm lucky to get within an 1/8 of a mile! Then again, the crows down at the farm have good reason to be wary of us pecan farmers.
Having had a pet crow, I realize how gregarious and intelligent these creatures are (and they can be taught to talk -- mine was fond of saying, "Hello, hello").

Posted by: Insectophile at September 30, 2003 07:13 PM

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