Something to Crow About

By Midge Pierce

They’re back and there’s a good chance their murder will land on a doorstep or rooftop near you.

It’s crow season in Portland. As leaves turn yellow and drop, so too do Portland streets with the droppings of so-called murders –crow roosts some 10,000 strong. 

They gather for garbage, babel and bluster. They wreak particular havoc in the business district where shoppers risk being divebombed – or worse – as crows fly by.

Enter Avian Solutions to root the roosts out of downtown. Using raptors to scare crows out of the city center encourages them to resettle in parks, green spaces and other peripheral areas – like your neighborhood. 

SE Portland’s Mt. Tabor area is a popular hangout. Avian’s Kort Clayton says that relocating crows to lower density areas is less impactful to our community. 

The Audubon Society’s Bob Sallinger calls falconry “hazing” – a relatively humane way to take pressure off the biggest areas of crow vs. community conflict. Crows frequently return to their food-rich downtown haunts, he warns.

He says that while some curse crows as a nuisance, others see a fascinating creature. He calls it “quite a spectacle” when the birds come together from every direction to settle in for the night. They seek food, shelter, warmth, and messages. 

“Crows should not be a major concern for Portlanders. There’s a lot to admire. They use tools, recognize faces and pass information from one generation to another. They are incredibly interesting to watch and understand.”

Except, perhaps, when they are circling overhead and the cacophony grows with the size of their murder.

Murder may have been what the crows in outer SE had in mind when they attacked an injured Western owl saved by a passing police officer last month.  It was taken to the Audubon Society where it is alive at this writing, but with an uncertain future. 

As populations of many birds decline and songbirds struggle to survive, Sallinger acknowledges that crows can be predatory, but says it is the loss of habitat, not murders, that is killing off species. 

Crows are “generalists” that adapt to urban living and changing climate conditions and yes, they are doing quite well, thank you. 

Love ‘em or hate ‘em, crows are here to stay.

Something to Crow About

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