Just Like Humans, Crows Embrace Junk Food…and Pay the Price

By Allison Bond | June 9, 2009 3:10 pm

crows like french friesHigh in calories but low in nutrition, junk food isn’t exactly optimal fuel for kids. And, it turns out, it’s not the best for baby crows, either.

A steady diet of scavenged discarded doughnuts and French fries has had deleterious effects on crow chicks in suburban areas, according to researchers at Binghamton University. The urban crows are smaller and have lower levels of blood protein and calcium than chicks living in rural areas, the study found.

When the scientists offered some of the suburban crows a concoction more nutritious than the junk food plentiful in suburban garbage cans—but not as nourishing as the crows’ natural diet—the suburban chicks grew faster than those still on the junk food-based diet. The rural parents also chose to feed their chicks the scientists’ mixture over natural food, indicating that crows might feed their chicks whatever food is easiest to get, even if it’s less nutritious.

The difference between crows and humans, of course, is that human parents know that junk food is bad for their kids. Crows are scavengers, and they’ll take whatever food they can get. What’s our excuse?

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Image: flickr / greg7

MORE ABOUT: crows, health, junk food

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