Posted by: atowhee | December 2, 2021

TIME TO CROW UP

There was a temporary crash in corvid populations when West Nile virus spread across North American nearly two decades ago. In was an avian epidemic. I remember one couple of birders I was guiding around 2008 near Ashland–they had me pull over so they could photograph a crow in a barn yard. In their suburban area of Chicago all the crows had died. Bet there are plenty now that the genetic pool is more West Nile resistant.

The crows are abundant here in Salem and nearby Portland. They are getting some public attention in the Bay Area now as they gather in huge winter roosts–click here.

It is a corvid recovery story worth noting. Earlier generations of American men looked on jays, crows, ravens as vermin. Like hawks they were shot on site. In Golden Gate Park there was a hired hunter into the 1960s whose job was to shoot all vermin–corvids, Red-shouldered Hawks, rats. And he did. When I wrote a piece on the first 100 years of Christmas Bird Counts in 1999 (it’s in Golden Gate Audubon’s Gull of November, 1999) I found the pre-WW2 counts found zero crows! In 1927 Joseph Grinnell wrote about Bay Area bird species and said that crows had been persecuted into oblivion. As late as the 1940s Grinnell presumed that ravens were gone except for rumors of survival on the remote Sonoma Coast. Both species were regularly shot on sight in those days.

The Salem Christmas Count in December 18–wanna come along?


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