Feb 11 2015
In some cultures and for some people, crows have a bad reputation. Their black feathers and eerily intelligent behavior have linked them with bad luck and death. Even those of us who like crows are upset when we see them take birds’ eggs and nestlings. Our distaste for this extends to other members of the corvid family as well.
Some game and conservation organizations kill corvids believing this will help the small birds that corvids prey upon. Does it? A recent study published in Ibis says “No.”
The Institute of Research in Game Resources (IREC) studied 326 interactions between corvids and their prey in Europe and North America. They monitored 67 prey bird species including passerines and game birds.
When researchers removed all predators from the study areas the prey-bird populations increased but when they removed only the corvids there wasn’t much change. In fact, some prey populations suffered in the absence of crows!
Crows had an impact on reproductive success but this didn’t make much difference to the species’ populations. Study author Beatriz Arroyo said: “In 81% of cases studied, corvids did not present a discernible impact on their potential prey. Furthermore, in 6% of cases, some apparently beneficial relationships were even observed.”
So is it good conservation practice to kill corvids? “This method of managing populations is frequently ineffective and unnecessary,” says Arroyo.
Crows are exonerated!
Read more about the study here in Science Daily.
p.s. As you can see in the video, crows just want to have fun.
(video of a hooded crow on YouTube. Hooded crows are native to Europe.)