Japan 'Crow Forum' concludes trash is for the birds
In fact, the birds -- estimated to number from 20,000 to 30,000 -- have become such a concern to the residents of Japan's largest city that a recent "Crow Forum" drew nearly 300 people.
Hours of debate by experts led to the conclusion that the pesky birds appear to be thriving on garbage set out on the roadside for pickup early in the morning, said Hiroshi Kawachi of the Tokyo chapter of the Japan Wild Bird Society.
"Recently they've also begun to be less and less afraid of humans, raising the fear that in the future they could actually start attacking babies or small children," he added.
A May survey of crow population distribution cited at the forum showed that crows are twice as prevalent in downtown Tokyo, especially in districts where the garbage includes food scraps, than in rural areas.
Crows, ordinarily very curious birds, also pose other worries, Kawachi said, noting that a forest fire was set last year by a crow that picked up a smouldering stick of incense offered at a grave and flew off with it to a nearby mountain.
In 1996, railway officials videotaped crows on three separate ocassions in the act of taking rocks from the railbed and placing them on top of the tracks for no known reason. Officials said the rocks would be unlikely to cause any derailments.
To help solve the latest problem, the group next plans to submit a report to authorities and groups connected with garbage collection.
As for taxpayers, they can rest easy. Volunteers conducted the survey and helped with the forum, meaning costs were kept to chicken feed.