Rook PR Plan Backfires As Cannibal Bird Eats Live Chick

Story ByMichael Leidig, Sub EditorJoseph GolderAgencyNewsflash

A project designed to show the softer side of rooks by filming a family in the nest backfired badly when one of the birds killed a chick and ate it on camera.

The project that involved fitting a camera overlooking a family of rooks was part of the Project Corvo initiative by Bern-artist Dino Rigoli.

The birds which are present in large numbers in Bern are constant problem for many locals complain about the mess and the noise with the numbers increasing all the time.

Picture Credit: Newsflash/Projekt Corvo

The artist wanted to show that they were also very sociable birds, describing on his web pages both “communicative and intelligent”.

He added: “In recent years, the number of rook breeding sites has increased in many cities. This spreading of the rook population in the middle of residential quarters increasingly leads to conflicts with the population – also in the city of Bern and its peripheral areas.”

He said there was so smart that attempts to scare them off rarely worked, and plans to work with the local council to put a spotlight on the birds and their behaviour to make them more acceptable to people.

However the council did not go ahead with the scheme, and instead he did it together with the nature organisation Infozentrum Eichholz which aims to help people in the area understand nature better and to appreciate it.

Picture Credit: Newsflash/Projekt Corvo

Speaking to Newsflash, Nikolas Dussex said: “It was meant to show the softer side but it didn’t quite work as planned. But on the other hand it really does show the harsh reality of nature. At the moment in the city we have not had rain for a month. Everything is really dry, and there’s a real shortage of food for the crows and other animals. Many are starving, and this really shows how nature reacts.

“The nest had for eggs, and it was extremely unlikely they would have all survived. Three of the eggs hatched at the same time, but the fourth bird was weak from the start and did not survive. This rogue bird that attacked the chicks and killed one of them was properly suffering under the extreme shortage of food of all the other animals. It was chased off by the parents, and when the mother realised that the baby was dead, she ate the rest herself rather than wasted.”

He said the other two birds were still doing well.

In order to fit the camera the team had considered putting a tower up alongside the tree but in the end had mounted the camera from the balcony of a nearby garden terrace that looked down on the nest. The owner had wanted to support the project and was not something that had a problem with the noisy birds.

Picture Credit: Newsflash/Projekt Corvo

Nikolas said that he did not see the video as further damaging the reputation of the noisy birds. He said that people who are really interested in them and interesting and saw it as a way of highlighting how hard their lives were, whereas those who were opposed to the birds and were encouraging the council to shoot them were not looking at it anyway.

He said: “Every now and then the motion is put forward to shoot them but it’s always rejected because it’s far too dangerous. The bullet won’t stop at the bird, it will go through the bird and it has to stop somewhere and that is far too dangerous.”

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