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WHO'S IN CHARGE HERE?
Magpie is a former journalist, attempted historian [No, you can't ask how her thesis is going], and full-time corvid of the lesbian persuasion. She keeps herself in birdseed by writing those bad computer manuals that you toss out without bothering to read them. She also blogs too much when she's not on deadline, both here and at Pacific Views.

Magpie roosts in Portland, Oregon, where she annoys her housemates (as well as her cats Medea, Whiskers, and Jane Doe) by attempting to play Irish music on the fiddle and concertina.

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Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Bad apples in Magpie's family tree.

In Magpie's continuing efforts to bring you the best corvid news in the blogosphere, sometimes we have to bring you stories we're not proud of. In this case, it appears that our black-feathered kin in east Africa are behaving very badly.

According to the BBC, crows in Tanzania are killing off the native birds as they multiply and spread across the country. Birds such as the paradise flycatcher have been reduced to a fraction of their former numbers in areas where crows are common. Things are apparently the worst in Tazania's capital, Dar-es-Salaam, where there may be as many as a half-million crows. There have been successful efforts in the past to keep crow numbers under control, but those efforts have lapsed, much to the detriment of the native birds.

Sadly, the fact that there are crows at all in Tanzania is a consequence of Western colonialism. The birds were first introduced to Zanzibar (now part of Tanzania) in 1891, on the order of the British governor. He had crows imported from India (then another British colony) so that they would eat the debris and litter in the streets of Dar-es-Salaam.

Crows are amongst the most intelligent birds and their hunting skills are finely tuned, according to Ms [Fiona] Reid [author of Birds of Dar es Salaam]. "Crows often work as a team. One will chase a bird away from its nest by swooping aggressively at it, leaving the way open for the second bird to steal the egg," she said.

This entrepreneurial flare [sic] is taking its toll on the indigenous bird life of East Africa, driving many species from their natural habitats.

"The effect on indigenous birds has been drastic," Fiona Reid told BBC News Online. "Numerous species, such as the African paradise flycatcher and many sunbirds, have virtually disappeared from Dar es Salaam gardens."

The situation is worsening rapidly. Crows are working their way further inland, feeding off the rubbish that East Africa's growing human population is producing.

| | Posted by Magpie at 5:50 PM | Get permalink




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