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Rochester May Have to Eat Crow

January 28th, 2013

A large roost of crows was spotted last week on the edge of the Genesee River gorge near the Smith Street Bridge. [FILE PHOTO: Terri Heisele]
Love’em or hate’em, these feathered Rochesterians may be here for the long haul. Last February external link the City and USDA used spotlights, pyrotechnics, lasers and recordings of distress calls to scare a pesky flock of crows out of Washington Square Park. But the birds came back. So, in December external link City Council approved another $21,000 for crow removal and they tried it again. For now, Washington Square seems to be free and clear. But the family of roughly 40,000 didn’t move very far. In fact, they’re hiding in plain sight…

About two weeks ago, on my way home up Saint Paul Street, I noticed an enormous black cloud twisting its way through the skies over the Genesee River gorge. I couldn’t see the beginning or end of this thing. No exaggeration, the cloud stretched for over a mile. Rising up out of the gorge somewhere near the middle falls, and moving south over Frontier Field. It was one big, continuous stream of black birds – both hair-raising and astonishingly beautiful. For the next two weeks almost everyday at the same time, this was a recurring event.

This past Friday, from Lake Avenue I noticed the swarm settling down to roost in some trees along the edge of the gorge. So I pulled out my cheap pocket camera and took some video (above). The clip is shaky and out of focus, I know… but that’s what you get when you forget your gloves on a sub-freezing January day in Rochester. At least I remembered the camera.

End Corvine Expulsions. [T-shirt designed by Clarke Conde]Anyway, standing their in the freezing cold watching this massive congregation of wildlife settling down for the night, I really could begin to understand why someone would set up a Facebook group external link or maybe design a t-shirt external link to end the corvine expulsions. Clarke Conde, photographer and designer of the t-shirt external link, sent me the following statement:

On December 17th of last year I went to Washington Square Park to witness the Rochester City Council approved $21,000 crow removal program. I shot the image that became the graphic for “END CORVINE EXPULSIONS” in Washington Square Park, right before the USDA began harassing the birds. I created the shirts the next day.
Rochester’s crow removal program is emblematic of several ham-fisted efforts by City Hall to modify quality of life by targeting aspects of Rochester that have developed organically. Crow removal is no different than harassing corner stores about selling single diapers, shutting down theater groups for performing in churches without permits or forcing businesses to put undersized signs in a space where a proper sign has hung for 100 years. It doesn’t help economically, it pointlessly saps Rochester’s character and it demonstrates an attitude of exclusion at a time when the City should be trying everything it can to be welcoming.
They are just birds. They live here. Let’s just leave them alone. In Rochester, we’ve 99 problems, but crows ain’t one.

A crow. He don't care 'bout no lasers. [PHOTO: Nick Bradsworth]
Well, take solace Clarke. These feathered friends look poised to move back into downtown again one day quite soon. And the City of Rochester may end up having to eat crow external link. Maybe literally.

Related Learning:

This page external link from Cornell has lots of info that explains why we will most likely never rid the city of crows for good.

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This entry was posted on Monday, January 28th, 2013 at 8:06 am and is filed under Rochester Images, Rochester News, Video. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

8 Responses to “Rochester May Have to Eat Crow”

  1. Matt says:

    Be careful around crows. They’re terrifyingly smart, and will recognize you on repeat visits. That said, I agree that this is one of those things just not worth spending money on at the moment. It is a quality of life issue that just isn’t important. Considering bike lanes can, generally, by installed for about $5,000 a mile, the 8 miles or so of bike lanes (enough to stripe Main St. in it’s entirety and enough left over to connect Tryon Park) might have been a better investment.

  2. Rick says:

    So they’re spent > $50 grand and no difference? What are the negative effects of just letting the crows be (disease? poop? invasive species?)?

    Also: This stuff really happened? “harassing corner stores about selling single diapers, shutting down theater groups for performing in churches without permits or forcing businesses to put undersized signs in a space where a proper sign has hung for 100 years”… That’s pretty crazy if it’s true.

  3. Matthew Denker says:

    Yes, that really happened. Another big one is to limit the allowed size of awnings, preventing them from being at all useful. The list goes on and on. One of the most egregious ones are the use of parking minimums to prevent businesses from going in. For example, if a hair salon requires 10 parking spaces, and a bar requires 14 (questionable that bars should have parking minimums!) don’t ever thing that some nice young guys are going to be opening a trendy new evening spot there any time soon.

  4. Joel Helfrich says:

    I hate municipalities that spend any money or effort to rid cities of these beautiful migratory birds. (Geneva, New York, does the same thing, as do colleges and universities.) I need the crows and encourage them to come to my back yard because they “mob” the hawks that attempt to kill the critters — squirrels, birds, chipmunks, et cetera — that I spend a great amount of money to attract. They are amazing sentient beings that make cool noises, have wonderful antics, and are fun to watch. If you have any doubts about these non-human animals, take a look at the number of youtube videos online of crows and cats that are friends, crows interacting with humans, et cetera!

  5. @Joel, take a walk on the Upper Falls bridge one day between 4:30-6pm. You will get quite a show.

  6. Rick says:

    Joel- I was at High Falls snapping pics and saw this hawk circling around the falls. I walked over to the overlook next to the little park to get a better view, you know the one where all the homeless people sleep in the bushes. I’m over there and I find the hawk again and I’m watching it for about 30 seconds when out of no where a crow shows up and starts attacking the hawk mid-air. The crow just kept on the it until the hawk finally gave up and left the area. The crow was so good at what it was doing that I almost felt bad for the hawk.

  7. Joel Helfrich says:

    Nobody Messes with the Mob:

    http://srel.uga.edu/ecoviews/ecoview110320.htm


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