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6 varmints that we should embrace

By: Jaymi Heimbuch on March 12, 2013, 3:29 p.m.
An American crow

Photo: Mr.TinDC/flickr

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There's a reason farmers invented the scarecrow, and it wasn't because they wanted to provide a companion for these black birds. Crows are the bane of a farmer's existence because they are fond of newly planted crops. For example, crows are known for ruining corn crops by pulling up sprouts to eat the softened corn kernels. They are obnoxiously loud and harass anything they see as a threat including people and their pets. But despite the trouble these smart birds can cause, they are important insect eaters. Farmers may hate them, but one crow family can eat tens of thousands of caterpillars, grubs and other destructive insects.

They also are scavengers of carrion — in fact, they can even help lead a predator like a coyote to prey and will go in for their share when the coyote is done feasting. Sounds incredible, but it's true. That's how smart these birds are. What is most amazing about crows is that they are such brilliant birds that there is the potential to train them to help us humans out, even as spies. Think about that the next time you call them pests!