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Caught in the act!?

Crows “trash” Arcata High School’s trash cans
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Some of you may have seen the trash strewn around the AHS student parking lot recently, or maybe even not-so-recently, and wondered who is doing this. You may have even started to silently judge the students. This subject has been plaguing the back of my mind for a few weeks now, and I have decided to get to the bottom of it. With much research and careful observation, it has come to my attention that the students of Arcata High may not be the sole culprits of all this destruction. 

In growing numbers, people have seen various birds, mostly crows, ravens, and seagulls, dismantling the AHS student parking lot trash cans. We may be dealing with an Alfred Hitchcock-type problem soon if we do not act fast. These birds know what they are doing too. The corvid family is known for producing the most intelligent types of birds; crows and ravens. According to Jennifer Ackerman, an American writer known for writing about ornithology, the New Caledonian Crow can even grasp the concept of “metatool use”, the use of an object to obtain a more useful tool to succeed at a task, which has so far only been observed in humans and great apes. 

As a reporter doing my due diligence, I started to carry a camera around so I could be prepared to catch these avian culprits of destruction. The minute I brought my camera to school, the birds were nowhere to be found. I sought out and talked to others who have also experienced this destruction, and their responses to my inquiries have confirmed my feelings that the birds are taunting us.

“There was figure drawing (an AAI after-school master class) the other day so I was waiting around to be picked up, and I was here until like 5:30,” Dillan Pinto, a junior here at AHS, said.

“It started out as like one or two ravens who were just kind of picking at the trash that was already on the ground,” Pinto explained that as time went on, it just got worse, “and then more came, around seven or eight of them, and one of them sat on the edge of the trash can and stuck its head directly in and pulled out an entire [brown paper bag], and tried to fly away… but it wasn’t very successful.” 

Pinto said that he couldn’t really tell if they were crows or ravens, but was pretty sure they were ravens. 

There are a few ways to tell the difference between the two birds, the main difference being that ravens are much larger and scruffier than crows. Some other ways to tell are that ravens have a thicker, larger beak than crows, and crows’ tails look rounded off while ravens’ tails are more wedge-shaped. 

Another witness to the birds’ actions was senior Kiara Leon.

She told me very interesting stories about what she had experienced in the student parking lot. 

“I was a witness. They were all fighting each other to get this piece of pizza,” Leon said.

She went on to say that as the crows were fighting, a seagull came in and stole the pizza.

“[The seagull] ended up getting the pizza because [the crows] were all too busy fighting each other. They didn’t see the seagull come over, ” Leon said.

Leon told me that that was not the only time she saw the crimes of these evil-doers either.

“One time, I witnessed them grab a piece of trash and lay it on the top of someone’s [car] hood, but it eventually flew away because there was wind,” Leon said.

These birds have no respect for our campus or its inhabitants and are obviously actively sabotaging my efforts to catch them defacing school property. By the time I am writing this passage, it has been raining for around seven days, making it impossible for me to witness and capture on camera the atrocities these birds have caused, an event that I do not believe is a coincidence. They are onto me, and they will not stop until I have given up, but I am not planning on giving up any time soon. I will continue to watch for them, and when the time is right, I will catch them in the act.

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