Cue the Hitchcock Music!

The birds are taking over. A crow patrol is scouring the streets of Kagoshima, Japan. The birds’ crime is not murder (the name for a group of crows) but instead causing blackouts by roosting among the power lines and reportedly “frightening away residents”. The patrol has been hired by Kyushu Electric, and tasked with looking for ways to reduce the city’s population of the noisy black birds.

Japan has apparently seen massive increases in the quick-witted birds, which have apparently been out-foxing the patrols by building dummy nests. (In a less quick-witted way, the blackouts happen when a peckish subject explores a high-voltage power line). This clash between Japanese city life and Corvus species parallels recent complaints by UK farmers that ravens have gone predatory on their herds; pecking lambs and calves to death in a black feathered frenzy. The Zooillogix blog gives the UK press a hard time for sexing up the story

Still the events do call to mind Alfred Hitcock’s 1963 classic The Birds. Corvus species like crows, rooks, and ravens hold a special place in the scary bird category even if Hitchcock’s film was actually about seagulls. Of course in the United States, the only thing eerie about crows lately is their absence. Their susceptibility to west Nile virus has decimated US crow populations.

Photo by Joi

To learn more about west nile virus, visit the following articles: