More and more ravens in Saxony-Anhalt: ‘They have a bit of a Hitchcock’

The chirping of birds in the Wanzlber cemetery is deceptive in the summer. “It’s starting over here in the fall,” says Caroline Axman, the building authority’s cemetery official. It means hundreds of pairs of black wings circling over the treetops in the early hours of the morning and loud squawks that wake up residents before the alarm goes off. “Because of Corona, the funeral was held outside, so you can no longer understand the speaker,” Axmann recalls.

“It has a bit of Hitchcock in it,” says a cemetery resident. The city has already received many complaints and videos. The first recordings go back to 2019, when it all started there. Neither Axmann nor Stefan Fischer of the Stikby Bird Sanctuary can say why the crow multiplied in Wansleben and so many other places in Saxony that watered so much.

crow facts
– songbird
Its height ranges between 40 and 50 cm
– Carnivores and plants
Previously migratory birds from eastern and northern Europe – home today
Colonial Breeders, Form Lifelong Partnerships

Crows are under special protection

Fischer runs censuses of crows in Saxony-Anhalt. The fact that nearly twice as many breeding pairs were recorded in Germany in 2021 than 20 years ago is not only due to better data collection on Fischer. Legal protections for animals also have an effect. The rook is a species of European bird and therefore is under special protection. They may not be killed or disturbed during the breeding season. And for good reason, because the crow was thought to be extinct decades ago.

Ornithologist Axel Schönert told MDR SACHSEN-ANHALT: “The crow has been hunted heavily in the past two centuries. For a while it was assumed to be an agricultural pest that eats seeds. But the rook is so called because it forages for food on newly plowed land and thus on seeds, but Mainly on insects and small animals.”

According to Schönert and Fischer, one of the results of this hunting is the flight of crows from the city. Intelligent birds learned to be safer than guns and raptors in settlement areas. In addition, they found fewer grassy areas outside cities and fewer insects in the fields due to the use of pesticides. Because crows breed in colonies, groups of trees with many branches, such as in city parks or cemeteries, are especially attractive to them after they migrate to the city.

Crows disturb the peace of the dead in the cemetery

We return to Wanzleben, where this colony makes the peace of the dead even more difficult. “The feces eat tombstones, and if you don’t get rid of it quickly, it causes damage,” says Caroline Axman. The damage left by the city, even if the requirements of nature conservation prohibit more stringent measures against crows.

How do places deal with crows?
– Move nests
– Pruning trees to make nest building more difficult
Hang safety vests or dummy birds of prey in trees
– covering trees with nets,
Hire a falcon whose birds of prey drive away crows
– calls or noises to get away

The city of Wanzleben has invested a lot of money and worked in the fight against birds. 30 thousand euros flowed alone in the green waste, so that the crows had less space for their nests. Axman dryly sums it up: “They’re laughing at us.” Since 2020, a sonic cannon has also fired at 120 decibels, the pain threshold for human ears, starting at 7 a.m. over and over again until shortly before the breeding season begins on March 25. The city wants to fire longer, but the state administration block with reference to protection guidelines. Court report to clarify procedures in the cemetery. According to the statistics of the State Environmental Protection Bureau, the number of active crow nests there more than halved between 2020 (92) and 2021 (40).

dead crows on sandbox

However, Wanzleben now has a second rookery colony at “An der Burg” Primary School as a result of these actions. It’s not entirely unconventional, says ornithologist Stefan Fischer. Similar experiences already exist in Bavaria. Frightening them split the crow’s colonies there as well and compounded the problem. On the other hand, it has been shown that crow numbers have stabilized over time in undisturbed colonies.

So you finally come to terms with the crows? Not a good opportunity for Wanzleber After School Care Director Karin Kühle. Bird droppings that you find in the sandbox or on playground equipment in the morning are also a problem. Ornithologist Schöneert points to studies that would prove that dirt is not harmful to health. When asked by the MDR, the Office of State Administration acknowledged that stool can “cause a problem” in day care centers or hospitals.

Cooling MDR SACHSEN-ANHALT said: “At six in the morning the school yard here is completely black with all the crows. And you can already hear the noise in front of the parking lot. It’s dangerous. We also regularly find dead animals in the sandboxes. Here, other birds have pushed them into Drive the crows out of here.”

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