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December 17, 2006


joe the moralist

the good news is that after all the whining and crying, man will eventually cry himself out of existence, and the communal roosters will have their territory back. I know a woman who bought a camp on an Adirondack lake, and spent the first season trying to kill the resident snakes. People think they are soooooo important....


Grateful for the correction, Firebyrd.


Actually, parrots are considered a nuisance many places. Quaker parrots have become established in a number of areas in the country despite a number of states having outlawed them entirely. The treatment these birds receive is often abominable in places like Connecticut.

Parrots are extremely loud and very destructive. We already killed off our one native species. If the species becoming established were as widespread as crows, I think the way people would be treating them would far exceed the treatment of urban crows. I love 'em, but they are not the sort of critter most people want around. Cuteness stops entering into the picture when they chew off your siding or scream like a siren at 6:00 am.


Here's another fun fact or two about human enhanced wildlife populations.

Unwashed birdfeeders are a major contributor to the spread of salmonella poisoning among songbirds. It really knocked back the house finches in the Northeast a decade ago.

Meanwhile, from an ecological standpoint if not in matters of human health, the very best thing that can happen to improve the reproductive success of North American turtles is a rabies outbreak among their top nest predators: garbage-enhanced skunk and racoon populations.


Out here in suburban California too - the crows are gathering and fledging and it's more than just a small niche in the human habitat chain, it's a gigantic salad-bar and supermarket complete with highways and turn-outs. Sometimes it's bigger birds too, we had a nest of buzzards up in a tall eucalyptus tree over towards the freeway for a long time, the freeway providing convenient supply of roadkill for them. The local water-drains supply protected under-roadway transport for raccoons and possums who emerge nightly for their foraging, with raccoons sometimes eating the ducklings that have happened to gather at our small condo-association pond. Unafraid and undeterred they climb the trees and emit a loud chattering during mating season, calling to females who join them in a noisy, chattering, branch-thrashing and biting love. Bright flashlights sometimes work to dis-invite the passion-pair, but they're protected by law and if you happen to shoot a raccoon or possum around here you're in for a $10k fine, minimum.
Literally the California 'burbs are teeming with happily-fed wildlife, so much so that the bigger cats are coming down to partake in the food-chain conga-line, and having never been hunted in the past seventy years since the prohibition on that, they have no fear of humans.
I grew up as a kid overseas in on the Subcontinent of Asia where crows were/are the most common carrion bird, eating the worms from cow-pies and the entrails of dead dogs - I have no fondness for crows.

Mary Ann

I've been wondering about this. I like crows. Don't tell anyone, but I actually feed them. Only three or four crows show up and they're so shy I've never been able to get a picture of them. So, what's the difference between my crows and the mobs I've heard about in neighboring communities?


I happen to admire crows, and I tend to agree with Charlottevillain. Some people have insulated themselves too much from their nature.


Crows can be aggressive, mobbing raptors with particular zeal, but in part because of their communal habits they are succumbing to West Nile Virus in droves. Dead crows are the most common indicator that West Nile may be active in an area and are meant to be promptly tested when found. There is no cure on the horizon, and they and many other bird species are likely to experience sharp declines as a result.


I swear, we are a soft whiny lot. Crows indeed. Our forebears would not recognize us! These complaining folks should just be shrinkwrapped into their own little sanitized environments (along with their crow-free lawns)and spare the rest of us their annoying, entitled, cackles. I'd much rather hear the crows. (ok, I feel better.)

Now, while I have zero sympathy for the crow-offended, I do wonder what the impact of crows in large numbers are on other wildlife. Crows are notoriously aggressive. From my office window I often watch as five or six crows gang up on and torment a solitary red tail hawk. I imagine that in large numbers, crows could drive off a lot of rival species, which would be unfortunate.

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