Researchers Use Big Data to Save Crows Around Boston

October 14, 2013 Stacey Schneider

CrowsAs part of Pivotal, I get the opportunity to hear about many big data stories and try to get as many of them as possible on the blog to share with you. Recently, I’ve covered some amazing stories that include massive advancements in healthcare, and of course, ground-shaking announcements from GE on 14 new big data solutions that have customers claiming they are saving $20 billion in the first year.

This week’s story is a little lighter, but in the spirit of American Thanksgiving and using data for good, I must share.

The story starts with some Crow Facts Researchers for the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority finding over 200 dead crows near the greater Boston area this past summer. With such an unusual spike in deaths, there was concern that they may have died from Avian Flu and the state engaged a number of agencies to understand and control the possible contagion.

A Bird Pathologist examined the remains of all the crows, and, to everyone’s relief, confirmed the problem was definitely NOT Avian Flu. The cause of death appeared to be vehicular impacts.

However, during the detailed analysis it was noted that varying colors of paints appeared on the bird’s beaks and claws. By analyzing these paint residues it was determined that 98% of the crows had been killed by impact with trucks, while only 2% were killed by an impact with a car.

Intrigued, MTA then hired an Ornithological Behaviorist to determine if there was a cause for the disproportionate percentages of truck kills versus car kills.

He very quickly concluded the cause: When crows eat road kill, they always have a look-out crow in a nearby tree to warn of impending danger. They discovered that while all the lookout crows around Boston could shout “Cah”, not a single one could shout “Truck.”

About the Author

Biography

More Content by Stacey Schneider
Previous
How to Use Responsive and Adaptive Web Design to Increase Sales
How to Use Responsive and Adaptive Web Design to Increase Sales

Responsive web design is a new website design approach that allows web experiences to be tailored to all so...

Next
Pivotal's Plans for Strata Conference + Hadoop World, Oct 28-29 in NYC
Pivotal's Plans for Strata Conference + Hadoop World, Oct 28-29 in NYC

Since the Strata Conference + Hadoop World combined forces, it has become not only the largest Hadoop comm...