I came accross this story (Kagoshima Journal 7th May 2008 by Martin Fackler) whilst looking for information on Japanese owls and although the article focusses on a serious issue for the Japanese, it did make me laugh.
He talks about a Crow Patrol set up by the utility company Kyushu Electric Power. Men in grey suits use binoculars to hunt for crows or their telltale signs. These could be torn rubbish bag or twigs on top of a pole. Spot the deliberate mistake. They have built nests on telegraph poles causing a string of blackouts in Tokyo.
But their interference with humans does not stop there. They have taken over parks as people are too scared to go there. Apparently these are big crows. Their wing spans up to a yard and they look scarey.
Crows have even carried away baby prairie dogs and ducklings from Tokyo zoos, city officials said. It is” alleged” (I do not want to be sued by a crow) that they have attacked people and have even flown off with small animals from Tokyo Zoo.
Apparently the birds have increased and multiplied a lot since the 1990s. Some people have counted them in large Tokyo parks and the number rose from 7000 to 36,400 in 2001. (How on earth can anyone count crows accurately?) The ornithologists believe that there are about 150,000 crows in Tokyo. Good Heavens! Well, if you can see the sky with all those big winged birds about. They have started trapping them but these are smart cookie crows and they have upped sticks and moved.
Experts and officials say that the root of the problem is tht the Tokyo inhabitants have taken on western habits of fast food and dropping rubbish. The birds have had a field day living off the fat rubbish bags of the land. They have tried putting rubbish in yellow plastic bags as apparently crows cannot see through that colour and they have covered bags with wire meshing.
These birds are even trying to outsmart the Crow patrol in Kagoshima. The cunning crows have put up dummy decoy nests to attract the stalkers whilst they are living the high life elsewhere. When this article was written, the birds were winning. There were more nests and more blackouts. There were also 1400 incidents of crows cutting fibre optic cables to use them for their nests.
Tokyo was one of the first cities to take lethal measures because the governor, Shintaro Ishihara. ordered the city into action after a crow attacked his head when he was playing golf. That is a handicap for sure or I bet he wished he had a handy cap to don. In 2001 Tokyo placed traps using raw meat in rubbish bags filled with poison gas. as a lure. Other towns and cities copied. But there was opposition and an ornithologist, Michiyo Goto of Yamagata University, called for nonviolent alternatives, such as relocating the crows outside the city by building an appealing habitat for nesting, which she said was a brightly lighted area with no underbrush to hide predators.
In 2008 a privately funded project called the Ginza Honeybee Project. constructed a series of rooftop hives to home 300,000 honeybees. While the project is more about making honey in urban spaces, it has a handy side effect for the crow situation.They produce a double whammy for the human inhabitants as the bees chase the crows away and produce honey for humans. So that is a honeytrap and sting operation in one swoop.
The funniest idea stemmed from an experiment in which crows were trained by Joshua Klein to put coins into vending machines to get peanuts. It was then suggested that crow boxes are built so that crows can be trained to be street cleaners in exchange for wages. . So they would literally be paid peanuts.
Research in Seattle say that crows do not forget a face and hold grudges. They can recognize the fact of their abductor. Apparently birds brains light up when they see a face that they recognize and they will dive bomb and taunt someone who has been negative to them. So watch out Crow Patrol ! If they see your face you are likely to become top in the crow pecking order. An obvious solution is to wear a yellow mask.
There was me feeling safe because I do not live in Tokyo and I am always nice to crows so I should not be a target. THEN I looked out of my window and saw this !
It is a worse scenario than Tokyo because this bird has gone for the bin in someone’s garden. In broad daylight too. I think that in view of what has happened in Tokyo, that London should draw up a conbingency plan before magpies take over our gardens. Be afraid, be very afraid.
Oh is that the time? I must fly…