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M.A.:

Greetings from Poway, the land of many crows. Speaking of crows, it seems that over the past few years, the crow population in the county has grown dramatically. (Or maybe they are ravens.) Anyway, what would account for this, and could this become a problem? And if it is a problem, how would we correct it? I don't like crows and would be happy to start shooting them, if that would help.

-- LB of Poway

The land of many crows, eh. Land of pushy drivers, more like it. But your perception is correct. The crows are coming, the crows are coming! The coast used to be exclusively ravenland, but crows are Bogarting their way in from San Diego's mountains and have been for the last several years. The boundaries of bird populations aren't fixed; as long as there is enough nesting habitat, food, and shelter from predators, a booming species will continue to spread. (The house sparrow scourge began 150 years ago with a few imported birds in New York. Now they're thriving throughout most of North America.) Crows are tough suckers and will eat just about anything, making adaptation simple. If the Least Bell's vireo or California gnatcatcher could eat discarded tacos, they probably wouldn't be endangered either. Oddly enough, tall trees in the expanding suburban landscape may provide more crow nesting sites than in the past. As for shooting crows -- they'll fly along with the paddy wagon, laughing their heads off, as the cops haul you away for violating various migratory bird protection laws. That's federal time. Learn to love 'em.

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