Tool launched in response to dive-bombing birds documents 2,500 attacks since 2016
Fri 20 Jul 2018 09.32 BSTLast modified on Sat 21 Jul 2018 19.48 BST
It was a crow fiercely protecting its nest – and repeated complaints of it dive-bombing and swooping – that prompted the idea.
“Just about every day someone would come in and say: ‘I got smacked in the back of the head,’ or ‘Mary got smacked in the back of the head,’” said Jim O’Leary, a teacher at Langara College in Vancouver, .
“I was thinking to myself: I know crows are smart but we’re pretty smart too. Isn’t there something that I can do about this?”
The result was CrowTrax, an online tool that since 2016 has documented about 2,500 crow attacks in the Metro Vancouver region, nearby Victoria and around the world.
O’Leary, who teaches a course on geographic information systems (GIS), initially envisioned the site as a way to show his students how such systems could be used to map and store spatial data.
“But it kind of took on a life of its own. Because most people really don’t care about GIS; they just care about crows,” he said.
Within hours of launching the site, reports began pouring in. About 1,000 anecdotes came in during the site’s first year, and 1,500 the next year.