The '˜bad lads' also need attention

It's always easy to write about the amusing antics of the trust's overwintering hedgehogs, or the grace of the swans on the pool, but the trust also takes in animals that aren't exactly '˜Top of the Pops' when it comes to human preference.

Saturday, 3rd February 2018, 4:07 pm
Crows undoubtedly fall into the category of the bad lads of local wildlife, successfully feeding on farmland crops, together with eggs and chicks of other birds despite attempts at scaring them away, trapping and shooting at them.

Gulls are probably the least popular of our ‘patients’, noisily nesting on rooftops, filching chips in Castlegate, and splattering the odd passer-by with horrid white goo.

There’s no doubt about it, gulls are a handful right from the start, when the orphaned or abandoned chicks start to arrive at the Rollo Centre in the spring.

But wildlife rescue is not about making judgments on which animals are cute or beautiful and which are too much of a nuisance to deserve our attention.

Crows undoubtedly fall into the category of the ‘bad lads’ of wildlife, successfully feeding on farmland crops, together with eggs and chicks of other birds, despite attempts at scaring them, trapping and shooting at them.

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So it was with mixed feelings that I said a tentative ‘hello’ to a jet black bird glaring angrily out of a cage in the recovery room with his gimlet eyes.

He’d given Kay and Jackie the runaround on a school field while bemused bystanders looked on. But finally he tired of hopping about and they were able to capture him and bring him in for treatment of his lungworm, which was giving him a nasty cough.

He’s been in for a couple of weeks now, and I can’t help getting the feeling when we’re cleaning and lining cages, weighing and recording hogs, and washing and replenishing food bowls, the crow is quietly taking it all in, thinking who knows what about us people and our daily lives.

A quick Google tells me that the corvid family, particularly crows, have sinister associations in folklore the world over. In Britain they are linked with war, death and ‘the other world’. Our collective noun for them is ‘a murder of crows’, and in Sweden it is thought that they’re the ghosts of murdered men.

They have a slightly more positive press in other cultures. Hindus believe that crows embody the souls of recently deceased relatives, and they make meals for them as offerings.

Nonetheless, if not outright fear, there’s a healthy respect for the crow.

But what is known about them really?

Researchers at Oxford University discovered that some species possess forward planning skills and imagination. In an experiment, a female repeatedly fashioned a curved hook from a straight piece of wire to winkle out food, demonstrating problem solving abilities and tool making skills. There is also evidence to suggest they recognise individual human faces and can remember them.

Perhaps it is their intelligence we fear. As our technology-dependent society becomes more advanced, it also becomes increasingly fragile; the wily crow could just be waiting for his chance.