Midway through fall quarter there is a massive influx of crows. Thousands upon thousands of these birds come to roost, brood, and defecate upon the property and population of Davis.
The species of crow that you'll find in Davis is the American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos). Crows live in a group called a murder. Ravens, which are in the same family (Corvidae) and genus (Corvus) as crows, look similar but are much larger. Crows are louder, have a harsh caw sound, and are more nervous. When flying, crows flap and yap. Ravens are quieter and are more calm. When ravens fly, they spend their time quietly soaring. Video: link Interestingly, two other corvid species, the Western Scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma californica) and to a lesser extent the Yellow-billed Magpie (Pica nuttalli), can also be found in and around Davis. Contrary to public belief, crow meat actually tastes similar to the meat of other similarly-sized birds. The phrase "eat crow" has more to do with their association with morbidity due to their black color, harsh "caw" vs. a song, and scavenger nature. For further information, look here.
Crows are considered one of the most intelligent animal species on the planet due to their ability to create and use tools and their powerful memory. Some studies show that crows can count to 16 and recognize individual humans based on facial features. In Davis it's pretty common to see Crows placing nuts in the road and waiting for cars to run them over, thus releasing the delicious content and demonstrating a high level of problem solving aptitude.
During late Spring and early Summer you may come across a fledgling crow that has recently left its nest. They're unable to fly at this point and appear generally helpless. Many are tempted to intervene and help the fledgling but you should resist the urge so long as the bird is not in immediate danger from cars or domestic animals. The parent crows are generally nearby at this stage and the fledglings are best left in the care of their parents.
Parking spaces, primarily along Russell, are intensely coveted. Car owners hold on to these spots ferociously. Consequently, you can see many cars completely covered in bird excrement. The absence of predators (coupled with an abundance of things to scavenge) allows the crows to rule the daytime Davis skies with impunity.
A nest of crows near Hutchison were found dead circa July 2005. A specimen was sent to be tested for possible west nile virus infection as of 2005-07-08.
The crow problem used to be so bad at University Mall in the late 90s and early 2000s that they set up speakers to play the sound of predatory birds in order to scare away the crows.
On the evening of November 7th, 2005, there was a large crow population circling around the Davis sky.
The effect of that many crows in the University Mall parking lot.
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2007-05-12 23:13:45 I will always remember my first year at Davis. The skies darkened from thousands of crows filling the sky. The noise was deafening. It was like an evil plague sweeping across the land. Then I saw a crow close up and realized that he had kind of a cool walk with his head bobbing back and forth. So every Halloween I always think about putting up a fake crow. —Jedron
2007-06-20 22:34:03 A few years in a row, I've noticed that hundreds, if not thousands of crows will gather in the fields where the West Village is slated to be built. They walk or stand around, cawing at each other in the way that crows will. It's really something to see. There's also a giant tree in front of the county courthouse in Woodland where hundreds will gather and raise a ruckus for several nights at a time...you know, like at a noisy, crowded bar where you have to shout "So what's your sign?" to be heard. —DukeMcAdow
2007-06-21 11:48:25 The crows will also swarm predators, I've seen them attacking owls and other raptors. They even circled over my backyard due to all it's awesome fruits and veggies, but I had a broomstick and I belive they thought it to be a gun, eventually they forgot what they were doing and drifted off and then dispersed. —StevenDaubert
2007-06-22 00:55:07 Crows are nothing but bad news —EfremRensi
2008-03-16 09:57:29 My wildlife parasitology professor told me that the University tried to introduce a disease into the crow population. As you can see, their attempt at reducing the crow population failed. —EmilyTung
2008-03-16 10:38:59 An ornithologist told me years ago that 30 - 40% of the regional crow population is residential, not migratory. You will see them heading in from the fields toward various groups of tall trees on evenings during nearly any time of year, with significant increases in the populations in the fall. There have been large populations in Yuba City and other valley communities, and it seems they are on the increase in the Bay Area as well: http://www.redwoodcitydailynews.com/article/2007-11-22-11-22-07-bil-paul —DonShor