Crow attacks in Vancouver mapped by Langara instructor

Watch out in the West End and downtown! A Langara instructor says those are the hot spots for crow attacks in the city.

CrowTrax already has 300 entries from people getting divebombed by birds

A screenshot from CrowTrax; note the large concentration in the West End and downtown. (giscourses.net)

Crow nesting season in the Lower Mainland is April to June, and every year pedestrians get dive-bombed by birds protecting their babies.

But this year, an instructor in Geographic Information Systems at Langara College has developed an interactive map, CrowTrax, to track crow attacks across the city to see if some of these attacks can be reduced.

"This has really touched a nerve with people," Jim O'Leary told On The Coast host Stephen Quinn.

"Up till now, really, we don't know where the crows are in the city and we don't know what they're doing. We don't know how badly they're acting … This has just been such an eye opener to see people's responses."

The idea, O'Leary says, came from some unpleasant experiences his colleagues experienced.

"Last year, there was a very large crow's nest right in front of our front door," he said. "Just about every day, one of my colleagues would come in and say, 'I got smacked on the head' or somebody on the third floor got smacked on the head."

"You could go out on the street and you could see the crows, literally, coming and hitting people on the head."

O'Leary hopes his map will reveal some patterns in where crows attack. For instance, it is already showing that a large number of the attacks happen in the West End and downtown of Vancouver, which makes sense, he says, because crows love to be around human food, and those areas have lots of restaurants and leafy trees.

The map has already gotten about 300 attacks recorded in it, and O'Leary wants to see more.

O'Leary, however, hasn't added to any of that data, because he hasn't been attacked himself.

"I'm careful, and I have a little umbrella that I put behind me," he said.

With files from CBC Radio One's On The Coast


To hear the full story, click the audio labelled: Murder most foul! Vancouver crow attacks mapped in new project