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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Crows in Japan


With the possible exception of stray cats and barking dogs (both pet hates of mine), the biggest urban pest in Japan are crows - karasu (in Japanese).

Crows are the Taleban of Tokyo - large, aggressive, noisy and clad all in black.

With wingspans of around a meter and sharp claws and beaks, Japan's crows have moved in from the countryside to the towns to scavenge on the easy pickings of household garbage.

Garbage bags ripped open by crows

Household waste in Japan is not usually placed in a bin or can but left in a plastic bag by the side of the road to be picked up by speeding garbage trucks. Nets are used to cover the piles of plastic rubbish bags but the crows are clever enough to simply lift these off to get at the goodies within.

Beware the crows!

Some estimates put the number of crows in Tokyo at 150,000 birds and the city government is involved in an ongoing fight to cull their growing numbers. Between 2001-2008, 93,000 crows were lured into traps and poisoned in the Japanese capital.

Crows, which often make their nests in and from high-voltage power lines, have also been responsible for a number of blackouts as they eat their way through the cables, even causing the bullet train in northern Japan to temporarily shut down once.

Crows in Japan

If you have ever been buzzed by a crow or worse shat on by one of the Hitchcockian monsters, you'll be with Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara on his crow extermination campaign, as the Tokyo city authorities try to eliminate this avian menace.

Listen to the sounds of crows in Tokyo
Video by Rob Markovitz

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