What happens when all the crows just up and leave?
June 19, 2017 12:47 PM   Subscribe

One day, every single crow in the Seattle area flies straight up into the air, disappearing from sight. They do not return the next day. What happens next?

The timeframe being discussed is "however long it takes for maximum effects," whether it's weeks or decades or longer (or shorter). For bonus points, what happens when they all come back?
posted by bigbigdog to Science & Nature (12 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Great question. To clarify, you mean what happens to Seattle, not what happens to the crows, right?
posted by Rock Steady at 12:52 PM on June 19, 2017

Yeah, the crows will look after themselves.
posted by bigbigdog at 12:53 PM on June 19, 2017 [1 favorite]

For a little while there's a lot more roadkill/carrion lying around; population explosion in other species that eat the same kinds of stuff as crows follows (I'm guessing this includes seagulls, other birds, opossums, raccoons, maybe rats, but I don't know a lot about Seattle wildlife).

I mean, if this really happened, crows from areas around Seattle would move in as well, probably, but I assume you are positing that the crows know they need to stay away for some reason.

When crows come back, a lot of those animals that filled in the gaps get starved out, as do some of the crows (assuming they all just show up at once).
posted by mskyle at 12:59 PM on June 19, 2017 [3 favorites]

They say crows eat a LOT of waterfowl eggs. I would say that there may be a increase in that population and the snakes that also eat them.
posted by beccaj at 1:04 PM on June 19, 2017 [1 favorite]

The blue jays will take over, I suspect. (I have witnessed a lot of conflicts between the crows and blue jays in my north King County neighborhood.)
posted by stowaway at 1:39 PM on June 19, 2017

Crow, or Raven? Or both?
posted by humboldt32 at 2:08 PM on June 19, 2017

This happened here in Connecticut when West Nile arrived. The crows were hit hard and we are just starting to see therm again years later. I'm not any kind of biologist and can't answer the question, but perhaps you can find some papers written at universities in the NE.
posted by SemiSalt at 2:15 PM on June 19, 2017 [1 favorite]

Ian Frazier's "Count on Crows" might inspire you.
posted by Carol Anne at 2:54 PM on June 19, 2017 [1 favorite]

Yeah, I came in to say "Look at papers studying the effects of West Nile," in Illinois we also lost basically all our crows to West Nile. Mass quantities of blue jays were definitely a big result! Also some other smaller birds that otherwise were scared off by crows. Road crews spent more time on carcasses, since they got cleared less-quickly by scavengers. (My brother worked summers with the road crews.) Some kinds of insects and amphibians were more prevalent when crows quit eating them.

On a human level, my dad grew up on a farm and haaaaaaated crows -- they're aggressive, they steal crops like whoa, and they're hard to scare off with typical methods because they rapidly learn your "bird-scaring device" is harmless. When they came by our suburban house and cawed their loud caws he'd frequently shout at them or even pitch crabapples at them to scare them off. After West Nile killed them off and they all disappeared, he missed them, and when they started coming back a few years later, he'd hear their caw and instead of racing out to scare them off, he'd go out with bread or fruit to toss them food and sweet-talk them. It's still sort-of a special treat to see them around here and almost everyone has gone from (when I was a kid) being like, "Man, stupid scavenging crows everywhere being jerks" to being like, "Dude! I saw a crow!" They've quit being a weed species and have become a special treat like seeing a bald eagle or a kestrel hawk.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 5:33 PM on June 19, 2017 [10 favorites]

I wonder if sea gulls would take their place in Seattle?
posted by mumimor at 11:22 PM on June 19, 2017 [1 favorite]

Well, the bald eagles will be able to fly around without getting harassed.
posted by humboldt32 at 8:57 AM on June 20, 2017 [1 favorite]

> The blue jays will take over, I suspec

Steller's Jays, more likely.
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:35 AM on June 22, 2017 [1 favorite]

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