A dossier on our crow invaders

crow closeup

Don't be fooled -- there's a lot going on in that bird brain.

Troy and Albany have resumed hostilities in the War on Crows. Anti-crow trucks are trolling through Albany this week firing off flares, lasers and amplified crow distress calls. And the crows appear ready to retaliate.

So if it's going to be like this, maybe we should understand our opponent a little bit better. Here are a few crow facts to keep in mind.

crows roosting
They've come for our trees

The single best crow info resource we found online is Kevin McGowan's crow FAQ -- McGowan studies the birds in Cornell's famed ornithology lab.

OK, on to the intelligence file:

It's not a murder
A group of crows is known as a "murder" -- a term that dates back to the 15th century. McGowan asserts that no scientist would actually call a group of crows that -- they'd use the term "flock." As it happens, the groupings of crows that have prompted the War on Crows locally are actually referred to as "roosts."

Convention centers
McGowan writes that the reasons behind these crow conventions isn't totally understood (it's been going on for "as long as there have been crows" and it's "one of the most natural things in the world"). He says it's also not clear exactly why the roosts seem to have moved to urban areas in recent years -- though there are a number reasons why crows might find our cities good places to convene (among the reasons: a lack of owls).

Bird brains
A review study published in Science in 2004 suggests that some corvids, the family that includes crows, "are not only superior in intelligence to birds of other avian species (perhaps with the exception of some parrots), but also rival many nonhuman primates."

Tools
A 2002 paper in Science reported that crows have been observed making and using tools. And a crow has also been observed carrying a cup of water over to a container of dry food. (Let's hope they don't get a hold of any gas centrifuges.)

Economic actors
A grad student at NYU reported that he was able to get crows to use a vending machine.

Language
Crows are said to have as many as 25 different calls -- and they can call for help.

Don't piss them off
Researchers at the University of Washington report that not only can crows recognize individual humans -- they hold grudges. (The crews annoying them with lasers should take note of this.)

Eating crow
McGowan says he's eaten crow -- and it tastes "just fine." He adds that crows are all dark meat.

crow close-up photo: Wikimedia Commons user mdf

Comments

Now can they do anything about the stupid squirrels taking over my neighborhood?

Problem: Crows
Solution: Pterodactyls

I keep picturing "You can't win" from The Wiz. The scarecrow being the City of Albany, and the crows being the crows, respectively.

At least the "stupid squirrels" don't crap all over my car -- and I'd rather dine on squirrel than "eat crow".

Crows are useful, and hard-working. They are also extremely
intelligent, and resourceful. Crows clean up road kill, including
dead squirrels.

Assaulting The Crow is an exceedingly stupid idea. The calls
they make to each other is communication regarding locations
of food. They hold Team Meetings, and have their very OWN
Neighborhood Association conclaves. They are friend, not foe.

Not understanding them is no excuse for unilateral attacks,
and poor stewardship on the part of the Human Species.

And the Author is correct: they DO recognize, and remember.

I'm on their side. They are doing their Job, expertly. Are we?

Also, crows can read blogs and post comments apparently.

Crows are nothing. It's the pigeons we need to worry about. Those beady eyes. We think they're just become acclimated to us, but really they're trying to get closer so they can murder us, crush our civilization, and steal our car radios.

I think the previous blogger's worship of crows is causing him to misunderstand Albany's problem. I have the utmost respect for the crow's intelligence, resourcefulness and ability to clean up our roadkill. However, our taxes help pay for the fine stewardship of the Department of General Services who will clean up the roadkill for us in the absence of what most of us would consider an extreme over-population of crows. In the mean time, skies and trees black with crows coupled with the dull roar of their calls do not reflect positively on our city, and therefore pose a threat to our local economy. (Except for the car washes of course). Lover of crows, I suggest observing these spectacular creatures in their natural habitat outside city limits, so that we can have our city back.

S, and T:

Yes, I can read; I can also write. Your comment is useless.

I worship God; I appreciate crows. The problems in Albany
are caused by the human population, not the animals.

Your presumption that you speak for "most of us" is absurd.

You speak for no one but yourself. And I am not a 'blogger';
observe the button, below: see that it says "post", not "blog".

Try to pay attention.

That's one snippy crow!

Thanks; now, where's them dead squirrels at!?

I got me a hankerin'! And, please pass the garbage...

wow, testy.

I heard them setting off fireworks last night. It was kind of eerie, but cool. It scared my dog though.

Does Albany have a city motto? If not, it should be "I worship God; I appreciate crows." You know, as soon as this crow-hunting phase passes.

Albany's City Motto is: "Assiduity". Thanks for asking.

30

Every creature of nature and say god is usefull for living things.
Crow is definately useful bird for cleaning roadkills, thrown away eatables. Droppings of crows may be usefull for enviorenmental protection, crops etc.

A detailed research is required on utility of every animal for humanbeing, animals, and vegitation.
Lizards, cocroaches, ants, in homes have definate role. By killing them with insecticides, we are harming ourselves in long run. One of my doctor friend says that these are our friends- don't kill them by insecticises .

crows are smart, they are our friends :)

http://www.sciencemag.org/site/feature/data/crow/weirmovie.mov

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