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A carrion crow: The college launched CrowTrax to document attacks by the bird in Vancouver, Victoria and beyond.


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The faculty launched CrowTrax to doc assaults by the hen in Vancouver, Victoria and past.

It was a crow fiercely defending its nest – and repeated complaints of it dive-bombing and swooping – that prompted the concept.

“Nearly on daily basis somebody would are available in and say, ‘I obtained smacked behind the pinnacle, or Mary obtained smacked behind the pinnacle,’” stated Jim O’Leary, a instructor at Langara School in Vancouver, Canada.

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“I used to be considering to myself: I do know crows are sensible however we’re fairly sensible too. Isn’t there one thing that I can do about this?”

The consequence was CrowTrax, a web-based device that since 2016 has documented about 2,500 crow assaults within the Metro Vancouver area, close by Victoria and world wide.

You don’t hear something and identical to that you just get smacked behind the pinnacle

Jim O’Leary

O’Leary, who teaches geographic data methods (GIS), initially envisioned the positioning as a approach to present his college students how such methods can be utilized to map and retailer spatial knowledge.

“However it form of took on a lifetime of its personal. As a result of most individuals actually don’t care about GIS; they only care about crows,” he stated.

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Inside hours of launching the positioning, stories started pouring in. About 1,000 anecdotes got here in in the course of the website’s first 12 months, growing to 1,500 the following 12 months.

The deluge, notably the various from throughout Metro Vancouver, stunned O’Leary. “I don’t know if crows are extra aggressive in sure spots than others,” he stated. “It simply gave the impression to be one thing which we expertise right here in Vancouver fairly a bit,” he added, pointing to town’s tall bushes and focus of garbage bins as a potential rationalization.

The location solely accepts stories in the course of the spring, or what O’Leary known as crow assault season – the interval of usually eight to 10 weeks annually when crows are centered on defending their eggs or younger fledglings.

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“When it occurs, there’s a giant spike,” he stated. “I obtained like 100 stories in six hours at some point.”

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O’Leary, who created the positioning with fellow teacher Rick Davidson, screens all of the submissions for any clearly bogus stories, citing one which stated: “A crow adopted me into the bar and ran off with my girlfriend.”

The map lets customers present particulars of the assault and charge the hen’s aggressiveness, permits folks to see the place the assaults are occurring and helps them take steps to guard themselves. However it has seemingly taken on a bigger position within the metropolis’s psyche. “It’s develop into a remedy for folks … folks simply want to inform their story,” he stated.

“It’s dramatic. When you’re taking place the road and also you see a canine and the canine is growling at you, effectively no less than you get a little bit of a warning. Perhaps you possibly can cross the road or you possibly can metal your self, prepare for an assault,” he defined. “However this comes from behind, invariably. You don’t hear something and identical to that you just get smacked behind the pinnacle.”

Although he’s been swooped at a couple of occasions, O’Leary has by no means been attacked by crows. However after studying via the positioning’s hundreds of submissions, he’s gained a brand new respect for the birds.

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“The principle factor that comes throughout is that crows are very clever; they work collectively. They’re one of many few species that really makes use of instruments,” he stated, citing examples of crows utilizing twigs to dig into tree crevasses for ants.

However he’s additionally been astonished by their aggressiveness, pointing to tales of individuals being left with neck accidents after an assault. “These crows, they’ve been getting away with homicide for years,” he stated. “They assault pigeons, squirrels, cats and canines.”

In consequence he’s modified his personal behaviour throughout crow assault season, sporting a hat and turning round on the first whisper of wings behind him.

“Lots of the stories are the identical, ‘the crow attacked me from the again, hit the aspect of my head,’” he stated. “A few of them are form of scary. Persons are saying ‘an entire pack of crows adopted me down the block and I needed to go inside’.”

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