Crows proving a menace in Portsmouth as more people report attacks

More people claim to have witnessed crow attacks
More people claim to have witnessed crow attacks

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MORE concerns have been raised about crows following an attack on a woman at Southsea Common.

People living near Milton Common say aggressive crows have become a problem – and claim that people feeding them with bread is leading to higher numbers and exacerbating the issue.

As reported yesterday, 50-year-old Ashley Harley, from Fareham, was dive-bombed by a crow as she walked along the common.

The attack gave her a nasty gash on her head and required her to get treatment from an NHS walk-in centre.

Bird experts stressed the crow attack was a rare incident in which a bird was probably protecting its young.

But Andrea Smith, of Warren Avenue, Milton, said: ‘We too in Milton are troubled by crows and have also been dive-bombed.

‘Two years ago the residents of Moorings Way in Milton had a meeting with a local councillor who promised to get signs put up on the common asking people not to feed them. We are still waiting.

‘Every day we see people arriving on to Milton Common with their bags of bread and the skies immediately are filled with the birds.

‘They soil our windows and washing, peck at our roofs, wake us at an unearthly time in the morning and bin day is a nightmare.

‘Twenty five years ago when we moved to this area the skies were full of sky larks, now there are none as these birds take their eggs.’

She added: ‘The natural rise and fall of the crow species is being interfered with by the artificial feeding of them.

‘It is a worry with an infant school being in close proximity that these birds will attack the children.’

Biologist Louise MacCallum, who helps to look after the bird reserves in Langstone Harbour, said crows were intelligent, rather than aggressive.

She said: ‘Personally, I have never heard about or witnessed crows dive bombing for food – I have only seen this behaviour relating to protection of their nest from a perceived threat.

‘Carrion crows are extremely opportunistic and inventive birds.

‘They will definitely scavenge for human food from bins and take advantage of being fed.

‘There is one here in Langstone that has taken a shine to shellfish – it collects them at low tide, then flies high in the air over our yard and drops them so the shells crack on the concrete and it can get to the flesh inside.

‘Their cleverness, adaptability and ingenuity is why they are successful birds.’

She added: ‘We should remember here though that we are not, in fact, in an Alfred Hitchcock film. The attack on Southsea Common is a very rare event and I would be willing to wager that the bird was acting to protect its offspring.’

No-one from Portsmouth City Council was available for comment.