Avian irritation

Subject: Avian irritation
From: "M. S. O'Keeffe" <>
Date: Mon, 30 Jun 1997 12:53:40 -0700
Ron wrote:
> Recently I came across the following in the Brisbane Courier Mail
> dated 23/6/97.
> "When are the authorities going to do something about the crow menace
> ?  These air-borne bullies,predators and disease-carriers have
> increased with the urban sprawl. Noise abatement laws allow for
> prosecution of humans for disturbing the peace before 7am. Crows wake
> up neighbourhoods as early 4.30am in summer with impunity.It seems
> they're protected and council and government officers whom I have
> approached on the matter say, with a yawn, that there's nothing they
> can do about it.
> John Pullinger ,Carina."
> !Bampot ! thought I, disposing the newspaper in the bin ( re
> cyclicable section ) Perhaps its getting close to the 1st April..
> Struth and shiver me timbers etc. On the Saturday 28/6/97 yet an
> other letter in a similar vein appeared in the Courier ,as follows.
> "Crow ! They are the rats on the wing ,vermin of the air , a health
> hazard.
> Britain, Japan and Russia have organized " rook shoots " to reduce
> the explosive growth of this infernal bird in their cities . Why not
> here in Brisbane ? No time is wasted getting the council rat men out
> to get rid of the rodent from under the house . We toss canetoads in
> the bin by the bucket-load and lobby to hush the rowdy hound yet
> do-gooders with a couple of letters after their name wax lyrical on
> the benefits of having the equivalent of 40 rabid dogs baying from
> the blue gums, sun-up until sundown.
> Corvus Orru and Coronoides drive other birds out of their territory
> and eat the young and eggs. Crows don't clean up road kills in
> suburbia, as is widely believed . they feed too well on urban
> flotsam-jetsam . The many wheels on the road and cats in our parks
> dispense with carrion before the crow gets a sniff.
> Why do I say that crows are a health hazard ( the irritating,
> piercing bark as noise pollution not withstanding ) ? The blasted
> pests have me arrested , fined , nearly jailed ,poisoned and
> hospitalized - that's why !
> Nearly shot a bloke in the park in pursuit of the dreaded crow
> .Skipped two slugs past his toes; Left the shotee and the idiotic
> shooter a shattered wreck for week. The ensuing police visitation
> impressed the family no end. The magistrate seriously tightened my
> collar for a bit.
> Deadly hemlock was sought and secured. Had the crow well and truly
> measured this time.About to claim victory when alas inadvertently
> poisoned self while washing hands. A over Z , and next thing it's
> intensive care with beeping boxes and tubes everywhere. Mum
> confiscates poison . ( Mum should have him drink remainder, perhaps
> ?)
> But can't you see ? I'm a public nuisance because of the Crow. They're
> sending me blinking mental. Come on council folk. A metaphorical.rook
> rook shoot is overdue. Plant plenty of trees, sure but crowless trees
> , please , because I'm damn near completely out of mine and someone
> has pinched my shanghai.
> R.K. Banfield, Wavell Heights."
> Just what is going on . I know I'm from the country but is there
> something going on I should know about.
> Is this something cooked up by members of birding-aus to see if there
> is anyone out there ?
> Has the colouration of the said bird have anything to do with the
> resentment ( bear in mind recent changes in expected political
> correctness ) ?
> Have members of the Koel, Channel-billed cuckoo, Noisy friarbird,
> Magpies and perhaps even the less than subtle
> Kookaburra tribe concocted a fiendish plot to get rid of the
> opposition.? Almost certainly they would be familiar with the sunday
> names of the crows and ravens.
> Is it, perhaps,.a.desperate ploy of the frustrated gun lobby ?
> An indication of the general shortage of good second hand brains,
> perhaps ?
> Should the council try some " No Crow singing allowed " signs ?
> Would the Greatest hits of Tiny Tim, played from the rear of a council
> van at full blast, just as the blasted bird began the dawn choir
> practice help .
> Any way it beats me
> peace to all the little feathered songsters and happy birding .
> Ron Hughes
> Ron Hughes
> Brisbane +1000
> Queensland, Australia

Well, Ron, it beats me.  As an ecologist, I guess I am supposed to know
all about the role that birds like Corvus orru play in the decline of
other forest birds.  But as most of us reading this will know, they are
a symptom, not a cause.  I have to say that without the few city birds
that I have around my place, it would be pretty sterile on the old 24
perches. Yep.. I kind of like having the theiving black "vermin" around.
There's life between the Beefsteak plant and the Cestrum yet.  Beats me
how anyone could countenance a day without some natural sounds to break
the monotony of traffic noise... I have a neighbour who throws rocks at
the local Brush Turkey and its young when they are around.  She spent
the whole weekend not so long ago with a ghastly, noisy electric blower
and mower (yes, I know, its a bad rhyme) trying to rid her yard of those
lovely leaves that the Turkeys find so attractive.  By Sunday evening as
the smell of snags wafted past the cemetery, and the crows lifted up
their heads in anticipation, the leaves were dumped on the easement and
the neighbour's wheel barrow was leaning triumphantly against her
Macadamia tree.  When I returned home from work the following day, the
leaves had been stack nicely by the Turkeys, and all that was showing of
the wheelbarrow, through the mouldering heap, were two black rubber
handles. She passed by, looking deflated. I'm afraid it is with a
somewhat guilty conscience that I must admit to you, that this was the
first occasion for six months on which I looked at her, smiled sweetly
and said "G'day!"

"I'm investing in land... you see they aren't making it any more"  
Mark Twain.
Scott O'Keeffe
Centre for Conservation Biology, University of Queensland

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