Birds’ paradise

The article below appeared in the newspaper over a month ago highlighting problems posed by the increasing crow population in my hometown Malacca. Understandably there’s much hoo-hah over crows because they’re menacing. But another bird species needing attention is the pigeon.

Due to generous, caring Malaccans providing easy pickings for pigeons, their numbers have become quite something to contend with. Though I agree it can be nice to see these gentle, tame birds but in large numbers they pose more of an eyesore than eye-candy.

Historical buildings and landmarks have been given facelifts time and again only to be marred by these winged-ones using them as homes and hangouts. Walking along verandahs (walkways or “five-foot-ways” outside shophouses)  can pose quite a challenge as we try to side-step droppings while praying none will hit us from above – these birds simply love to mingle on the beams overhead. Not intending to sound morbid, fear of diseases possibly spread by the already unsightly droppings always linger in the back of my mind.

But what can or should be done? One thing’s for sure, mercilessly culling them won’t help for as long as there’s abundant and continuous supply of food, these pigeons will continue to congregate and propagate. The only solution would be to nip it at the source of sustenance but how? Issue summonses to the purported perpetrators? But they haven’t committed any crime, they’d argue. True. So then a law should be drawn up (and enforced) against bird-feeding. Alas, these are just my ramblings…

The Article:

The Star Online
Published: Saturday September 28, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Updated: Saturday September 28, 2013 MYT 11:13:50 AM

Population of birds in Malacca grows and they are becoming more aggressive

BY R.S.N. MURALI

Causing fear: A murder of crows hovering in Banda Hilir school in Malacca.Causing fear: A murder of crows hovering in Banda Hilir school in Malacca.

MALACCA: Daring crows fly brazenly into hotels, eateries and schools, stealing food and scaring away people.

The business community and residents complain of crow droppings that mar their office blocks and homes while schoolchildren have had encounters of birds flying into classrooms to steal their lunch boxes.

The crow population has grown so enormous that they seem to be confronting Malaccans for space in the historic city, especially in the commercial hubs of Taman Melaka Raya and Pulau Melaka.

With black beaks and sharp claws, the crows are becoming more aggressive.

Malacca Holiday Inns marketing and communication manager Eric Ong Kam Fai said the hotel management had taken steps such as placing garbage in yellow plastic bags that the birds could hardly see through and covering trash and balconies with fine-mesh net to reduce the attraction of crows.

“There are cases where food served to diners at our outdoor restaurant were stolen by these scary looking birds.

“Previously, hungry crows have injured our staff while trying to steal food. They have also left rat carcasses at our rooms’ balconies after eating them.

“But through these measures, we managed to control the birds siege,” he said.

Equatorial Hotels public relations manager Catherine Lee said the crows were turning into a menace.

“We are facing problems with them but we have our own mechanism in place to shoo them away,” she said.

An ornithologist who requested anonymity said the crow population in the city is estimated to be about 15,000 and some crows may have moved to different areas within the city.

In 1980s, he said, the birds were confined to only coastal areas and now they were all over the city.

At least one school has declared war against the crow menace after the birds’ presence during morning assemblies and at the school’s canteen has caused fear among the pupils.

SJK Bandar Hilir headmaster Adnan Sidek said the pupils would normally wave the birds away but to no avail as the crows did not seem to be intimidated.

“It got so bad that the crows almost attacked some of the pupils in a bid to savour their food. They quickly grabbed them with their sharp beaks and this left the affected pupils in shock,” he said.

He said he had sent a letter together with photographs of the crows at the school compound to the Malacca Historic City Council for its attention.

He said the council’s personnel then did something to eradicate the crow menace, but the birds still returned to the school for food.

“Nonetheless, we will continue to work with the council from time to time to reduce the crow population,” he added.

The response by the Malacca government: Malacca to form crow patrol unit

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