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Waste Disposal Sites as All-You-Can Eat Buffets for Carrion Crows (Corvus corone)

Vienna Zoo, 1130 Vienna, Austria
Department of Landscape, Spatial and Infrastructure Sciences, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, 1190 Vienna, Austria
Steiermärkische Krankenanstaltengesellschaft m. b. H., 8010 Graz, Austria
Department of Cognitive Biology, University of Vienna, 1090 Vienna, Austria
Department of Psychology, University of Cambridge, CB2 3EB Cambridge, UK
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Animals 2019, 9(5), 215;
Received: 14 March 2019 / Revised: 18 April 2019 / Accepted: 28 April 2019 / Published: 4 May 2019
(This article belongs to the Section Ecology and Conservation)
PDF [2402 KB, uploaded 4 May 2019]

Simple Summary

Several bird species like common ravens, carrion crows, hooded crows, and rooks are held responsible for damage to agricultural land and crops. Especially in urbanized areas, they are increasing in abundance and are considered nuisance animals. We estimated the population size of carrion crows over the course of one year in relation to waste and non-waste sites in the federal state Vorarlberg, Austria. The current study showed that several human-related food resources influence the abundance of crows. More crows were observed in survey areas of biogas production and green-waste sites compared to reference sites 3 km distant from waste sites. Continuous hunting activities over the past two decades have not reduced population size. We suggest that the sustainable long-term stabilization and reduction of generalist corvid species populations can only be achieved if anthropogenic food resources are limited.


In cities and densely populated areas, several corvid species are considered nuisance animals. In Austria, particularly carrion (Corvus corone) and hooded crows (C. cornix) are regarded as pests by the general public that frequently cause damage to crops, feed on human waste, and thus spread trash. We conducted a detailed one-year field survey to estimate the abundance of carrion crows in relation to potential anthropogenic food sources and reference sites in the Austrian Rhine valley. Our results demonstrated that the number and proximity of waste management facilities, animal feeding areas, and agricultural areas, and the productive capacity of agricultural areas, predominantly influenced habitat choice and abundance of carrion crows. In the current study, the probability of observing more than two carrion crows at a survey site decreased with increasing human population density. Moreover, the abundance of crows increased despite a continuous increase in crow hunting kills registered during the past 25 years. Our study suggests a regionally comprehensive waste management plan could serve as a promising strategy to manage nuisance birds. A reduction in anthropogenic food supply through improved waste management practices is required for long-term, sustainable management to limit the abundance of crow populations in and close to urban environments. View Full-Text
Keywords: abundance; anthropogenic food; Corvus corone; crow; corvid; ecology; waste management abundance; anthropogenic food; Corvus corone; crow; corvid; ecology; waste management

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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Preininger, D.; Schoas, B.; Kramer, D.; Boeckle, M. Waste Disposal Sites as All-You-Can Eat Buffets for Carrion Crows (Corvus corone). Animals 2019, 9, 215.

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