Items tagged with 'crows'

Caw. Caw. Caw.

crows sky albany twilight 2015-02-17

With the return of cold weather, the huge flocks of crows that roost in urban areas have also show up. And once again there is an effort to disperse them.

The USDA trucks are set to start rolling through the city of Albany November 16 and 17 in the late afternoon and early evening. From a press release:

The non-lethal dispersal will be conducted by wildlife biologists from the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Wildlife Services, part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. They will be driving marked vehicles and wearing uniforms and a yellow safety vest marked "USDA Wildlife Services." The work will be repeated at two-week intervals throughout winter where roosts develop.
The non-lethal methods used to disperse crows include pyrotechnics, spotlights, non-harmful lasers, and recorded crow distress calls that are amplified. Several of these methods produce loud noises and flashing lights similar to sirens and fireworks that frighten birds and may be heard or observed by local residents.
Residents are strongly encouraged to place household trash in containers with lids to discourage crows from feeding. Residents may also use bright flashlights to disperse crows roosting in trees.

The crows can cause problems, as the press release notes, "because of their droppings and the ruckus they create." But we've come to appreciate their presence in winter -- they make the city feel more alive somehow. And there's some beauty in watching the flocks cross the sky at dusk.

Also: Crows are very smart. And maybe having a good relationship with them will pay off during the inevitable avian uprising.

Today's moment of winter

crows sky albany twilight 2015-02-17

It wouldn't take too much to convince us that the crows actually knew we were trying to take their picture.

Today's moment of winter

crow sitting in tree winter

Do you think crows ever need to get away from the other crows for some peace and quiet?

In the winter of 14-15, the War on Crows resumed

crows january sky 2014-01-13 bw

As winter gathers, so too will the crows in many urban locations around the Capital Region. And Albany has once again called in the feds and their fireworks to disperse the avian hordes.

From a city hall press release today:

The non-lethal methods include pyrotechnics, spotlights, non-harmful lasers, and amplified, recorded crow distress calls. Several of these methods produce loud noises and flashing lights (similar to sirens and fireworks) that frighten birds and may be heard or observed by local residents. The dispersal is done by employees of the Agricultural Department's Wildlife Services and the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service who wear uniforms and orange vests marked "USDA Wildlife Services."
Residents are strongly encouraged to place household trash in garbage cans with lids to prevent crows from settling in the city. Residents may also use bright flashlights to disperse crows roosting in trees on their property.

The city cites the noise and droppings from the crows as the reason behind yet another campaign. And we get that -- nobody likes a huge amount of bird poop dropped in their neighborhood. But we're starting to get the sense these measures aren't necessarily working.

So, what else is there? Well... A group of USDA researchers reported a few year back that they had success using "effigies" -- that is, fake crows and, um, actual dead crows hung upside-down from trees -- to dissuade crows from roosting in an area.

It's becoming clear that none of us will escape the War on Crows unchanged. Maybe it's time to discuss a treaty.

Quoth the raven, furthermore: A little light reading from the Penn State Cooperative Extension on managing urban crow roosts

Earlier on AOA:
+ A seasonal farewell to the crows
+ A dossier on our crow invaders

On eating crow, in Troy and in history

O'Brien's Public House

The recently opened O'Brien's Public House.

Two things about eating crow, which we wouldn't recommend because crows are wicked smart and it's probably best not to get on their bad side:

1. The owners of the Trojan Hotel/O'Brien's Public House in downtown Troy will are inviting people to eat "crow" with them at a party celebrating the building's renovation May 20. Is there a story behind that? You bet. From the press release:

Although the Trojan Hotel is one among many historic building rehabilitations underway in the celebrated revival of downtown Troy, this restoration effort was not without its doubters along the way.
But one of the harshest online critics of the effort has kept good on his public offers to buy a round of drinks for the house if the family succeeded in opening. The skeptic, who wishes to be identified as a "local facebook loudmouth," has paid the bar $200 to help provide one complimentary drink (beer, wine or regular drink) to the first 40 people who attend the Tuesday, May 20 opening party, starting at 5 p.m.
So, in the spirit of fun and redemption, the O'Briens will serve up slices from a lifelike crow-shaped cake, made by Troy confectionery artist Susan Dunkel of Sweet Sue's, 203 River St.

In fairness to this particular loudmouth, the building was in rough shape when the O'Briens got a hold of it. And it's to their credit they've been able to bring it back. Here are some before and after photos.

2. Where does that phrase -- to "eat crow" -- come from? It's unclear, apparently, but two of the popular stories about it are both related to New York...

(there's more)

A seasonal farewell to the crows

january sky 2014-01-13 bw

From this past January.

A spring arrives (finally), it's about that time the large flocks of crows that hang out in neighborhoods such as uptown Albany and other spots around the area go... well, wherever it is they go in the summer. The flocks are regarded as nuisances -- see the USDA trucks that shoot noisemakers at them -- but over the last few winters we've come to appreciate them as chatty winter-time neighbors, a sign of life during the cold months.

Anyway, this is all a long of way saying that as the crowds of crows head off to wherever they're going for the season, we enjoyed this clip about the birds from a long ago David Quammen piece:

Crows are bored. They suffer from being too intelligent for their station in life. Respectable evolutionary success is simply not, for these brainy and complex birds, enough. They are dissatisfied with the narrow goals and horizons of that tired old Darwinian struggle. On the lookout for a new challenge. See them there, lined up conspiratorially along a fence rail or a high wire, shoulder to shoulder, alert, self-contained, missing nothing. Feeling discreetly thwarted. Waiting, like an ambitious understudy, for their break. Dolphins and whales and chimpanzees get all the fawning publicity, great fuss made over their near-human intelligence. But don't be fooled. Crows are not stupid. Far from it. They are merely underachievers. They are bored.

That clip is via Smithsonian mag, which had a post this week pointing out that crows understand water displacement.

As the crows leave and the ice melts, the Canada geese have returned. And they're rather rude. We'd take the crows over the geese any day.

Earlier on AOA: a few more items about crows

Today's moment of winter

crows january sky 2014-01-13 bw

One of these crows is not a crow. (larger)

The crows were roosting in uptown Albany today, near St. Peter's. And the anti-crow truck was rolling through the neighborhood, triggering its noisemakers in an attempt to disperse the flock.

We're not sure how well it was working. The crows returned about 30 minutes after we first noticed them being disturbed, noisemakers sounding off in the distance.

Earlier on AOA:
+ Escalating the War on Crows
+ A dossier on our crow invaders

They dare anger the crows

crow closeupFrom an Albany College of Pharmacy email that made its way to us this week:

The College is working with the US Department of Agriculture to address the volume of crows on campus and some of the issues that go along with their presence. Over the next week to ten days the USDA will be on campus, typically in the evening hours, and they will use techniques that include fireworks and "starter pistols."
We apologize for any disruptions and also want to inform you of this so that you are not startled or threatened by the noises.

Communities all over the Capital Region have joined the War on Crows each winter for the last few years. Among the tactics: the aforementioned fireworks and pistols, recorded crow distress calls and... lasers. And yet victory has remained elusive.

The crow is a formidable adversary. Researchers say the birds can use tools, recognize humans and hold grudges (even if you can't figure out what you did to them). The mayor of Amsterdam recently revealed the crows had cracked the city's waste disposal codes. It's only a matter of time before they learn how to use Twitter and Facebook.

The one ray of hope in this conflict: Ellen McNulty-Ryan, the mayor of Green Island, who told the Troy Record last year that her city hasn't had a roost in eight years, thanks to her skill with a pyrotechnic pistol. She may be the last bulwark against the inevitable crow uprising.

Earlier on AOA: A dossier on our crow invaders

photo: Wikimedia Commons user mdf

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.

(there's more)

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.

(there's more)

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