80% of all Crows in existence are urban dwellers. It is a standard statistic all over the World. The top of the Urban Scavenger tree is their only true place. For human researchers such as my amateur self, great mystery and intrigue surrounds their organisational abilities. Still, there are many unanswered questions. Some suggest Crows actually create 4th dimensional space. Suburban Cheras in Kuala Lumpur being a case in point. (see previously: Crows at Work, Lust and Invasion). What about their countryside cousins? They can’t possibly match their urban cousins? Seriously those City boys and girls are really good at their Craft!
It really is the 20% non-urban Crows that demonstrate Crows are indeed special and derived of a different plane of existence than the rest of us (being human). Drive along a speed limited highway or byway (eg:110 klm/hr) between Cities or Towns anywhere that involves Countryside and you may observe local wildlife squashed onto and….eventually into the tarmac. In Malaysia, squashed Monkey appears to be the most commonly observed.
Who is hanging about on or near the Hot and now Stinky bitumen road, wet or dry, Haze (1) or shine? Crow is. Maybe up to three-four in the team, working over the carcass. It doesn’t appear to matter which part of the countryside the squashed road buffet is, the Crows are always there. For what distance and/or direction their Scavenge receptors work, I have no idea. Based on previous observations and rumours of distance and direction not being an issue, GPS co-ordinates for the roadkill were most probably locked in by the Crow Logistics Crew no more than a few seconds after those death pheromones were squashed into life.
The Driver is cruising on 110klm/hr, long sweeping bend just ahead with line of sight a bit obscured around the complete sweeping bend as solid Malaysian jungle or Plantation descends past the edge of vision…..”What’s that?”. Driver exclaims while heading out of the partially blind sweeping bend at 110klm/hr. For what appears to be only 30 metres ahead of the driver, a bunch of Crows are going full Beak Peck on the squashed deceased. They casually glance to the right as the car barrels towards them, “yeh………..yeh………yeh…yeh.yeh”, they craw. “On three….1,2,3……”, gets stated in unison, and even more casually they complete the 1 and 2 hop to the right as you (the driver) careens past slightly shocked. There is a bump felt through the steering wheel. All the while you are certain that black feathers will be sucked through the Air-Con into the Cabin anytime soon. Of course there is no sign of feathers, blood, crushed Crow guts or beak and there never will be. The bump was just more pressure being applied to what is now becoming roadkill carpet.
It is disconcerting for the near miss driver that by the time he/she has recovered from this near miss shock, a quick check of the rearview mirror observes the Crows back at their luncheon spot on the hot, sticky and stinky tarmac as if they had never left. How do they do it? How do they anticipate and act at apparently light speed to avoid oncoming high speed disaster? How do they find roadkill in the middle of nowhere?
In my past of Tasmania, I hung out with people who actively sought out roadkill as part of their diet. Full blown feral Hippies who permanently were off the grid and fully tuned with nature. I went on a few roadkill salvage missions and one thing we always did was to have lookout posted when we were at a road in many corners country (which is most of Tassie). It was for our safety. Just imagine, if we as humans tried the Crow trick of the casual hop off as vehicle approaches? We would become the next roadkill sampler for the Crows.
Human reaction time is good. Take the sport of cricket as an example. Close in Cricket fielders (short cover comes to mind – about 6 metres from the bat) reaction time to a hard 163 gram cricket ball being smashed at them by the batter at over 100klm/hr is about 0.6 of a second. Pretty good. In this case the fielder is solely focused on one thing – the ball coming off the bat. All effort is in this focus and the hard ball is caught. So, we can react in sub-second ways to situations, but when it comes to salvaging road kill for breakfast we are woefully under-prepared to deal with a oncoming vehicle out of a bend at 110klm/hr. The Crow?? Wonderfully prepared. It can only be through some form of localised manipulation of time and space. One second they are in the middle of the road and the next some distance away at the roadside casually cawing to each other about the weather.
Crows have long been a source of Farmer frustration. New season lambs appear to be a favourite, especially those that may be born during abnormal weather events and are weakened. The Crows get stuck into the eyes. Many stories abound of their love of lamb tongue. A major cost to the health of animals and the Farmers bank balance.
My earliest Crow memories go back to childhood staying for a few days at a Bothwell farm in Tasmania to go on hunting missions for Wallaby and Rabbit. It was pretty standard fare back in the early 1960’s. My Dad and Grandfather were pretty good supplementing our family diet with the Wallaby and Rabbit. Sometimes the Farmer would accompany us, with shooting Crows in mind due to attacks on his Spring lambs. I had observed over the days before one particular paddock where there were always 20-40 Crows sitting up on the fence just hanging out as Crows do. After hearing the stories and seeing the outcome of Crow attack on lambs, I really did not like the Crow. I mentioned about the one particular paddock where the Crow always appeared to be, and that is where we went and in a quiet fashion crept through the bushland on one side of the paddock for the adults to do their worst on these hated scavengers. Not one Crow observed anywhere. To say the Farmer was disappointed was an understatement. Farmer trudges off to the farmhouse and we go Hunting. Coming back at the end of the hunt we observed from afar the Crows back on the fence. I don’t know how, but by the time we got to within range of a rifle shot they were already gone.
This story can happen anywhere and anytime in rural areas across the planet. You are without your killing machine and many Crows will be spotted. Come back to the same place armed and potentially dangerous and nary a Crow to be seen. This exercise in futility can be repeated many times and always the same result. How can they know that someone will sometime in the near future attempt to murder them? The only way:- Manipulation of localised time and space through movement into another dimension. Once the danger is past, they hop back into normal space and time.
The Crow is indeed a creature of a different plane of existence than us mere humans. The Crow has indeed created it’s own Paradise on Earth.
Footnote (1) Haze: At the time of writing we in Malaysia have been suffering for weeks under the deluge of fire smoke from neighboring Countries, mainly Indonesia. Visibility in some areas is down to 30-50 metres (Sarawak particularly bad) and all due to land clearing for Oil Palm. Most of the Oil Palm plantations work best on top of peat land, with setting fire to cleared vegetation the cheapest option. Fire gets into the peat and cannot be extinguished easily as the peat can be up to 20 metres deep below ground. The consequence is months of smoldering and very smoky haze deluging neighboring Countries. Combine the smoke with urban areas vehicle emissions and it is a terrible toxic soup. Hospital cases for respiratory and eye related illnesses have shot through the roof. Outdoor sporting competitions cancelled and any work being carried out in open areas is certainly hazardous to say the least. This is not new with 2015 being probably worse than now. For cheap clearing cost many of the Companies involved in Oil Palm affect the health of Millions. There are alternative methods of land clearing and disposal of vegetation that some of the bigger conglomerates have implemented, but Governments across the region really appear to just throw their collective arms up in the hazy air every time and say “What to do? Nothing happens, yet Millions of innocent humans are forced to deal with the extremely unhealthy consequences year in and year out. Over the past week, the wind has finally changed direction giving some well overdue relief, but it will take some time for our health system to sort the backlog of illness caused by this environmental rape and pillage all under the guise of doing Business.
Profit before people as the well known story goes. This well known story keeps on getting repeated over the ages, time and time again. It must stop.