Saturday, September 21, 2019

Crows and Cholesterol

I was intrigued by this interesting study on crows. 

The research appeared in The Condor, Volume 121, Issue 3, August 2019 – and I came to know of it when it came out in the mainstream news. 

Now, we know these black birds are just like us. They are easily seduced by fast food – and fast food doesn't always love them back. 

It is noteworthy to mention that most of the fast food contains a vast amount of sugar, fats and carbs. This means that we are taking in lots and lots of unhealthy calories in the shape of fast food which leads to weight gain and ultimately obesity. 

Urbanized crows survive on a diet that's mostly our leftovers. More often than not, it's fast food. Think pizza crusts, bread crumbs and other processed foods that don't occur naturally in nature. 

To see what kind of effect that diet was having on the birds' health – a team of ornithologists at Hamilton College in Clinton, New York in the US of A tested 140 crow nestlings in Davis, California, in a region that spanned rural to urban. True enough, they found the more urban the bird, the higher its cholesterol. 

Their next study took place in rural Clinton, New York, but this time, they supplemented the birds' diets with a high-cholesterol food, i.e. cheeseburgers. 

At one point, they were calling in 100 McDonald's cheeseburgers at a time. "They thought we were joking", Andrea Townsend, the lead researcher said. 

Sure enough, the cholesterol levels of those rural crows shot upwards. 

But here’s the weird thing. The scientists found that while urban American crows (Scientific name: Corvus brachyrhynchos) had lower survival rates overall, the cholesterol didn’t seem to hurt the crows, and it was claimed that it had boosted the body condition of the nestlings, leaving them a little plumper. 

Actually, I am not surprised. 

After all, I’ve been on a breakfast diet of nasi lemak and Coke for so many, many years – and yes, I am still alive and kicking! What, me worry? 

On Wednesday evening, I was at the EcoWorld Toastmasters meeting at their HQ – and there, I took up the job of timekeeper. 

We had a Table Topics marathon – and instead of having attendees speak one at a time – we had them speak as a twosome. Six pairs in total.

I must say this activity was clever and charming. Different and offbeat. 

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