Last week, on trash collection day when there was the usual detritus left on the street, the LSS counted about 30 crows hanging around.
Mayor Andy Klein – who usually receives complaints about stuff like sewers and not about animals – said he received an email from a White Oaks resident (not the LSS) who expressed her concern about the number of crows she’s seen. The mayor said the City is looking into the problem.
Incumbent City Council member Randy Royce, during a candidate’s forum, remarked he missed the turkey buzzards that used to frequent San Carlos, which were replaced by crows, which Royce made clear he does NOT like.
So are there more crows now than, say, ten or twenty years ago? Yes!
While there isn’t data specifically on San Carlos (if you know otherwise, contact the LSS!), The National Audubon Society’s National Christmas Bird Count – entering its 112th year – covers this part of the Peninsula in its Crystal Springs “Count Circle.”
In 1992, volunteers counted just seven American Crows in a 24-hour period in the Crystal Springs Count Circle. Compare that to 2009-2010: 648 American Crows counted in the same area.
Bob Power, Executive Director of the Santa Clara Valley Audubon Society, says the number of crows in Palo Alto has “increased dramatically” by 13% a year since 1975.
“Of all the bird questions we get in this office, 90 out of 100 are ‘why are there so many crows,’” Power said.
Powers has his answer down pat: The first reason is crows are not hunted here like they are in the Midwest and other parts of the country.
Crows quickly figured out the significance of people carrying long, noisy sticks. “Crows learned to avoid human habitation” in those regions, he said.
Second, there’s the food factor. Mike Lynes, Conservation Director of The Golden Gate Audubon Society, says crows are extremely smart and adapt to human environments. “They thrive in areas where food and trash is left out; with a ready supply of food, their population explodes,” he said.
Lynes also noted that large numbers of crows have a negative effect on other bird species because they’re opportunistic feeders and notorious nest robbers.
American crows are part of the Corvid family. They’re smart and social, tending to congregate in large groups called flocks or “a murder of crows.” Ravens are bigger and considered even smarter than crows. They’re usually seen alone or in pairs.
About the Author: