Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

On Behalf of Crows

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

On Behalf of Crows

Article excerpt

FOR EXPERT testimony on behalf of crows, we call Bil Gilbert - author, naturalist, raconteur and a founding member of the American Society of Crows and Ravens.

It's an organization he calls an anti-organization, although its members do have secret numbers. "The society is an international organization of individuals who have various interests - appreciative, scientific, literary, aesthetic, mythic, spiritual - in crows and ravens, their habits, empiric and metaphoric significance."

It also publishes the Corvi Chronicle - all the crow and raven news that's fit to print - which "comes out whenever." (The 40-some species of common crows are members of the genus corvus.)

Gilbert lives in Fairfield, Pa., and is the brother of Sue Hubbell, another author who knows her way around the woods, and the birds and bees.

Gilbert is familiar with crow conditions in Missouri, having spent a year teaching writing at the state university in Columbia. In addition, his sister has a very rural place in the Missouri Ozarks.

Gilbert is eloquent on the subject of corvus: "Crows are risen people; people are fallen crows." There follows a series of giggles.

"All right, at times they can be robber barons, and at times the most sociable of all things. Look, I actually sympathize with people; I'm not sure I'd want a hundred thousand crows around."

But he cautions that extreme measures to disperse crows can backfire. They are very smart, wily and about as persistent as a critter can be. The Battle of Hagerstown, Md., is a case in point.

Hagerstown lies 25 miles southwest of Gilbert's home in Pennsylvania. The battle proved a long-held Gilbert thesis: "You can move a crow roost with noise makers, but you never know where they're going to move to."

Downtown Hagerstown was beset by an overpopulation of crows, and a barrage of noise from bottle rockets and CO2 cannons was launched to remedy the problem. …

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