For the past five months, the people of Pravia, a town in Spain’s Asturias Region, have been under constant siege from flocks of crows who mindlessly attack their homes and vehicles.The people of Pravia started reporting groups of birds mindlessly flying into their windows repeatedly until the impact caused them to bleed in May of 2023.
The town of Pravia has no less than six crows proudly displayed on its historic coat of arms, so it’s safe to say that people here have been living in harmony with the birds for centuries. That is not the case anymore, however, as large flocks of blackbirds now attack the homes and vehicles of human residents for some unknown reason. “It looks like something out of an Alfred Hitchcock movie,” a Pravia woman told La Voz de Asturias. “Today, 17 of them were grouped together in front of the same window, and nothing was going to scare them away.”
Pravia is a picturesque municipality located in the Asturias region of northern Spain. Nestled between the Cantabrian Mountains and the Bay of Biscay, Pravia boasts a diverse landscape that includes lush greenery, rolling hills, and charming rural villages. The town itself is known for its well-preserved historical architecture, including the Church of Santianes de Pravia and the Palace of Moutas.
With a rich cultural heritage and a strong tradition of gastronomy, Pravia offers visitors a taste of Asturian cuisine, featuring local specialties such as fabada (a hearty bean stew) and the region’s famous cider. The surrounding natural beauty provides opportunities for outdoor activities, including hiking and exploring the nearby coastal areas.
Pravia’s cultural and historical significance, combined with its scenic surroundings, makes it a captivating destination for those seeking an authentic experience in northern Spain. When the attacks first began to occur around Pravia,
many local people believed it had something to do with the crows being very protective of their young and keeping humans away through their behavior. But that period has long passed, but the birds remained just as aggressive, if not more so. Now, some or saying that the lack of food and the constant destruction of the crows’ natural habitat have pushed the birds to this extreme behavior.
While crows are generally not known for attacking people, there are some historical accounts and anecdotes of crows displaying aggressive behavior towards humans. It’s important to note that such incidents are rare and are often exceptions rather than the norm. One notable case occurred in 1948 in the town of Dundee, Scotland. A series of attacks by a group of crows on pedestrians were reported.
The crows targeted people walking in a particular area, swooping down and pecking at their heads. The attacks were severe enough that local authorities had to intervene, closing off the affected area temporarily. The cause of this unusual behavior was not definitively determined, but some experts suggested that the crows may have been defending their nests or territory. In another instance, a study published in the journal “Ethology, Ecology & Evolution” in 2009 documented aggressive behavior by crows towards humans in a Japanese city. The crows were found to target certain individuals, particularly those wearing masks or carrying bags that resembled the appearance of a crow predator.
The researchers suggested that the crows may have associated these items with potential threats and acted defensively. Crows, members of the Corvidae family, are highly intelligent and adaptable birds known for their complex social structures and problem-solving abilities. With a widespread global distribution, they inhabit a variety of environments, from urban areas to rural landscapes. Crows exhibit advanced cognitive skills, such as tool use and the ability to recognize human faces.
Their complex vocalizations and communicative behaviors contribute to their reputation as one of the most intelligent bird species. Crows also play ecological roles, including scavenging carrion, controlling insect populations, and even participating in seed dispersal.
The adaptability and intriguing behaviors of crows have captured the fascination of researchers and bird enthusiasts alike, making them subjects of extensive scientific study. Managing crow populations can present challenges due to their adaptability and intelligence, coupled with potential conflicts with human activities. Common problems include crop damage, predation on other bird species, and urban nuisances such as scavenging in garbage.
Control methods typically involve a combination of non-lethal and lethal strategies. Non-lethal approaches include habitat modification, such as discouraging roosting sites, and scare tactics using visual or auditory stimuli.
Lethal methods may involve culling programs or, in some cases, the issuance of permits for shooting or trapping. However, these methods are often controversial due to ethical concerns, and their effectiveness may be limited by the resilience and rapid learning abilities of crows.
Striking a balance between population control and ethical considerations remains a challenge in the management of crow-related conflicts. Crows are associated with death, darkness, and the unknown, so it is no surprise that these birds are seen as messengers from unseen realms. In many cultures, crows are seen as spiritual or mystical creatures. They are often thought to be messengers from the spiritual world, delivering news or warnings. The occurrence of crow attacks is often seen as a call for attention, a message from the divine or the universe trying to communicate something significant.
- BBC News. (2002). “Attack of the crows.” Retrieved from https://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/scotland/2416725.stm
- “Spanish Town Experiences Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘The Birds’ in Real Life” (October 4th, 2023) https://www.odditycentral.com/animals/spanish-town-experiences-alfred-hitchcocks-the-birds-in-real-life.html
- “Crow Attack Spiritual Meaning: Warning of Danger!” (Updated on November 9, 2023) https://spiritualdesk.com/crow-attack-spiritual-meaning/
- Ayuntamiento de Pravia. (n.d.). “Conoce Pravia.” [Know Pravia]. Retrieved from https://www.ayto-pravia.es/
- Turismo Pravia. (n.d.). “Pravia Natural y Monumental.” [Natural and Monumental Pravia]. Retrieved from http://www.turismopravia.com/