Archived Story

Crows on a garbage hunt are crafty

Published 9:39am Friday, November 25, 2011

By Ed Shannon, Between the Corn Rows

When many area folks dispose of household garbage, discards or whatever, the accumulation is collected in plastic sacks. Some folks even use two sacks This double sacking is an obvious way to cope with a potential problem if one of the sacks happens to leak. Then this filled sack goes into a larger plastic sack with a thicker texture or into a large cart with wheels.

The larger sack or cart is taken out to the curb or roadside on a designated day of the week for pick up by one of the area waste disposal trucks.

Right at this point I’m trying to emphasize the use of plastic sacks and carts to dispose of garbage or refuse by local households and businesses. That’s because there are unwanted participants in the sequence of garbage disposal between a home or business and the pick up by the big truck. And here’s where the crows have an unwelcome part in the disposal process.

I’m not sure if the crows are color blind or if they can really smell, but they can certainly detect garbage bags, carts and even huge dumpsters.

One morning last summer I didn’t get my garbage disposal bag out to the curb in time for the weekly pick up. Thus, I had to keep this mess in a plastic sack for another week.

Then I figured out that if I put the bag out the night before, there would be no problem with the big truck picking it up the next morning. However, right after dawn the neighborhood crow flock or gang really tore into the outer bag and the inside bags to get some morsels of food. To do this, the crows had to use their beaks to literally tear through three layers of plastic (the outer cover and the double bags) to get access to the alleged goodies. Those crows weren’t tidy at all. As a result, I take the large bag out to the curb a little earlier in the morning on the pick up days in our neighborhood.

Now some folks might think the large carts and dumpsters are crow and critter proof. They are, if the covers are down. Yet, some folks overfill those containers and the covers just aren’t down.

I’ve seen crows taking turns to tear into the plastic sacks and loose garbage at the tops of those overfilled carts. I’ve also seen crows flying down into the dumpsters when the covers weren’t down, or in a few situations were actually missing.

To close off this topic, here’s an interesting point to ponder. Do those crows shift their focus to getting free food based on the garbage pick up days in various parts of the city and rural areas? Maybe someone with plenty of spare time could do some research on this detail.


Cornstalk comment

This topic of waste disposal reminds me of the era when folks were expected to haul their refuse to what was then called the dump ground. Out in east Oregon where I grew up the local disposal site was out in a gully between two sagebrush hills. And in one Minnesota city where I once lived the dump ground was based on a former quarry. Evidently the intention was to eventually fill in this part of the landscape with garbage trash, leaves, junk and debris. Incidentally, those dump sites were then free to use.

Sometimes folks would go out to the dump ground with their trash and find something else worth salvaging. After all, one person’s throwaway item could become another person’s new treasure. I still recall going to the quarry site to dispose of the garbage and found a large cookie jar. There was absolutely nothing wrong with this jar that looked like a happy little pig. We used it in our kitchen for many years.

Oh well, those days of hauling garbage out to a dump ground and hopefully salvaging free items from other folk’s junk are now just a part of past memories.

With just three exceptions, Ed Shannon’s column has been appearing in the Tribune every Friday since December 1984.