Find those crows a job

crow vending machine

Bird brains.

Albany's crow problem is apparently serious enough that the city is now employing fireworks and lasers in an attempt to scare away the flocks. And as we can attest, the huge murders are kind of freaky.

But the city might be going about this wrong way. Maybe it just needs to find those crows a job.

Really. Crows happen to be very smart. They've actually been observed making and using simple tools.

Joshua Klein, a grad student at NYU, figured out a way to put these bird brains to work. He designed a vending machine for crows -- and then trained them to use coins to "buy" peanuts. From his site:

So far we've trained captive crows to deposit dropped coins they find on the ground in exchange for peanuts. The next step is to see how quickly we can get wild crows to learn the system, and then how quickly they can learn it from each other.

Once we've got system down for teaching coin collection we'll move to seeing how flexibly they can learn *other* tasks, like collecting garbage, sorting through discarded electronics, or maybe even search and rescue. The crows continue to amaze us with their abilities, so who knows?

The last we checked, the City of Albany could use some extra coin. Heck, it probably wouldn't hurt to have someone help it sort garbage, either.

And from what we understand, crows can be badasses who keep grudges. Maybe trying to tick them off with lasers isn't the way to go.

We're only about 1/2 joking. OK, maybe more like 3/4.

photo: Joshua Klein


Personally, I'll support pretty much any policy employing fireworks and lasers.

ugh there was just a giant flock out side of WTs... it was a scene out of the birds.

Hi there. Comments have been closed for this item. Still have something to say? Contact us.

The Scoop

For a decade All Over Albany was a place for interested and interesting people in New York's Capital Region. It was kind of like having a smart, savvy friend who could help you find out what's up. AOA stopped publishing at the end of 2018.

Recently on All Over Albany

Thank you!

When we started AOA a decade ago we had no idea what was going to happen. And it turned out better than we could have... (more)

Let's stay in touch

This all feels like the last day of camp or something. And we're going to miss you all so much. But we'd like to stay... (more)

A few things I think about this place

Working on AOA over the past decade has been a life-changing experience for me and it's shaped the way I think about so many things.... (more)

Albany tightened its rules for shoveling snowy sidewalks last winter -- so how'd that work out?

If winter ever gets its act together and drops more snow on us, there will be sidewalks to shovel. And shortly after that, Albany will... (more)

Tea with Jack McEneny

Last week we were fortunate enough to spend a few minutes with Jack McEneny -- former state Assemblyman, unofficial Albany historian, and genuinely nice guy.... (more)

Recent Comments

My three year old son absolutely loving riding the train around Huck Finn's (Hoffman's) Playland this summer.

Thank you!

...has 27 comments, most recently from Ashley

Let's stay in touch

...has 4 comments, most recently from mg

A look inside 2 Judson Street

...has 3 comments, most recently from Diane (Agans) Boyle

Everything changes: Alicia Lea

...has 2 comments, most recently from Chaz Boyark

A few things I think about this place

...has 13 comments, most recently from Katherine