Unsolved murder: Crow problem returns to roost in Rochester

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It's a sure sign of winter in Rochester – as the cold and snow return, so do the crows.

Right on cue, just as the first real snowfall sweeps the state, the nuisance birds are back, KAAL-TV reports.

Experts say the crows come into town from the frozen prairie because it's warmer. This winter, forecast to be a chillier one than normal, could make the crow problem worse, according to the Rochester Post-Bulletin's Answer Man column. The column notes, "Cold and snowy means extra crowy" – and extra "crowfall."

The crows making themselves home in Rochester have never been welcome – city officials and residents have been at war for decades with the noisy birds, which leave streets and sidewalks caked white with droppings. City leaders have worried about people tracking the scat into buildings around town, including into the Mayo Clinic.

"It’s getting worse and worse every year," Sebastian Modarelli, an organist at a downtown church, told KAAL. "It’s horrible! It's just – I have no words. Man, this is terrible."

But city officials in Rochester have had a tough time finding solutions. An attempt launched in 2011 to use laser beams to scare the flock of 5,000 out of the trees – and perhaps at least break them up into smaller groups around town – did not have lasting success. Neither did large nets or birds of prey, KARE 11 reported last year.

"I think in the long run we're probably just gonna have to just have some services available to deal with the messes as it comes forward, and try to move them on as well, but ultimately, as long as there's a concentration of light and warmth in the downtown cities, the crows are gonna find it," Councilman Mike Wojcik told KAAL.

Take heart, city leaders. It's not easy to outwit crows. The most striking characteristic of the bird – which many other cultures around the world also consider a nuisance, a scavenger and even a bad omen – is it's intelligence, PBS reported. The crow, researchers have learned, is among the smartest animals on the planet.

This video, uploaded to YouTube last year, illustrates the problem that residents are squawking about:

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