The Torresian crow… far more vicious than the sprightly myna.

“Crows actively kill the beautiful little finches, wrens and any other they can bully and destroy. No wonder they hide and stay quiet," writes an animated ROBERT MACKLIN.

WERE I religious, I’d say they were Scott Morrison’s “evil ones” incarnate. We don’t call their gathering a “murder of crows” for nothing. 

Robert Macklin.

The time has come to fight back against these killers of the birds whose songs used to bring such joy to the national capital. 

Stone them, as the old Aussie exclamation would have it or shoot them, trap them or gas them, I really don’t care, just as long as we do what we did with those invading Indian mynas in the 1990s – eliminate the vile predators and stop them despoiling our city with their snarling, mournful, cries.

Like the myna, the crow is an invader, from Papua down through the Torres Strait. It’s known to science as the Torresian crow, but it’s far more vicious than the sprightly myna.

I’ve hated them since my jackarooing days in western Queensland. During a drought they gathered round sheep stuck in the boggy mud of a dam and pecked their eyes out while they lived. They did the same to the manager’s dear old horse, Belle, a retired veteran of 26 years who got bogged in a gully in one of the holding paddocks. She was still alive when we found her. We put her down to end her pain. It broke the boss’ heart. 

My mate Neil had a good idea. He set up a trap near the gallows where each afternoon during shearing we killed an old wether for the shearers’ cook. He put some guts under a box he’d elevated with a stick; and when a crow finally went for the guts, he pulled the string holding the stick and trapped it.

Then he got some whitewash and I helped him paint the crow with it. When we let it go it flew towards its gang – the “murder” – and off they flew like bats out of hell, screaming at this white apparition heading their way.

We cheered it on!

Years later I found myself producing documentary films for the Asian Development Bank. Every six months I’d make a new doco about a group of countries that were building up their economies with big cheap loans from the ADB. 

One year the countries were Sri Lanka, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Bangladesh in that order. And from the moment we arrived in Colombo we were surrounded by the harsh and horrible cawing of crows until many weeks later we finally departed Dhaka. For all that time I couldn’t get old Belle out of my mind.

Then in the 1990s when the myna invasion was destroying the native birdlife I became a supporter of CSIRO scientist Dr Chris Tidemann who not only campaigned against them but invented a painless trap to capture and kill hundreds of them. The mynas just forced the others out with their aggression. The crows actively kill the beautiful little finches, wrens and any other they can bully and destroy. No wonder they hide and stay quiet.

Today, the crows’ monotonous caws are the first thing we hear each morning and the last call of the afternoon. The neighbourhood is bereft of that glorious dawn chorus that greets the morn when we take a break at our Tuross bolthole. 

But then last week at the coast, just as it reached its orchestral peak, suddenly came that single, snarling, mournful cry. The Murderers had found Arcadia.

It was a call to arms.

We either fight back or surrender our native birdlife to their grisly fate.

Dr Tidemann, sir, we need you now.

robert@robertmacklin.com 

 

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