Friday, May 10, 2013

Nature Strikes Back: The Infamy of Japanese Crows.

Crows are the last thing one would suspect after drunk elephants. Sandwiching them between elephants and big cats seems almost unfair. Nonehtheless. when it comes to species humbling humanity, it's hard to find a better example than Japanese crows. Well, that, or various bacteria and insects. Let's just stick with crows for now. Japan is in an all-out war with crows.

For starters, Japanese crows (Corvus macrorhynchos) are big. They're a great deal bigger than the crows in the United States. We'd make a joke about how this is the opposite of everything else in Japan, but one, that would be a lame joke, and two, Japanese hornets. For those of you who need a refresher, Beedrill, I choose you.

Japanese crows are not just big, they are smart, too. They have figured out how to use some big and fast like, say, a car or train to crack open a nut or shellfish. Step one: Put a nut or other crackable thing in the middle of a road. Step 2: Wait for a car or train to run it over. Step 3: Wait for said vehicle to pass. Step 4: Enjoy inner meat. It's quite an ingenious way to crack a nut, if I do say so myself.

Japanese crows take this to horror flick levels. There are several recorded instances of Japanese crows putting stones, not delicious nuts, on train tracks. This naturally caused train delays, although the jury is still out on While officials assure us that the crows were only putting small bits of gravel on the tracks, it's still a very odd behavior, and suggests a strange spirit to these birds - pardon the joke.

That's not all. These crows are evidently master trolls, too. In efforts to chase the crows away, exterminators look for crow nests...and hopefully find an inhabited one.Japanese crows are so smart that they'll predict where humans will look for a nest, then make a completely fake nest just to fool people. That's almost diabolical. If every criminal did that, the police wou- oh, wait. Was the Monster With 21 Faces in cahoots with these crows, by any chance?

Suddenly, what seems like "hey, that bird's using people technology to crack what it thinks are nuts or oysters - that's pretty smart" has become "we're glad these birds are using their intelligence to give us red herrings instead of outright killing us, Hitchcock-style." Welcome to Japan; it's a very scary place when you know some of the fauna. If corvid intelligence in Japan is any indication, they'll be around even longer than the people will.

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