For the love of crows

New NGO Ohev Orev seeks to defend, protect a much-maligned bird seen just about everywhere

ORIT BARUCH, founder of Ohev Orev, looks at Oscar, the first crow she rehabilitated. (photo credit: ARIK TAL)
ORIT BARUCH, founder of Ohev Orev, looks at Oscar, the first crow she rehabilitated.
(photo credit: ARIK TAL)
The average person sees an ominous bird. A farmer sees a pest. Orit Baruch, however, sees a crow as an intelligent, sweet creatures that has unfairly earned a bad reputation. Baruch is the founder of the NGO Ohev Orev (Crow Lover), which seeks to educate the public about these birds as well as provide rehabilitation for disabled ones.
With a master’s degree in Animal Behavior, she has found her passion in caring for these winged wonders almost by surprise.
Four years ago, a friend found an injured crow and brought it to Baruch. In turn, she called the Israel Nature and Parks Authority to get advice herself on what to do.
However, the ranger she spoke with gave her a shocking instruction.
“When I told them it was a hooded crow, they instructed me to kill it immediately,” she told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday.
This sparked her mission and led to the creation of Ohev Orev, which became an official nongovernmental organization on July 7.
Though she does not have a facility to care for and rehabilitate disabled crows, she provides advice to people who find them, and the organization managed to set up the country’s first disabled crow sanctuary in the South.
Since 2006, crows have been classified as an agricultural pest and therefore, the government permits the birds to be hunted and trapped.
Farmers complain of crows damaging their crops, while others complain that they are predatory to songbirds. Rather, they provide a number of benefits to the ecosystem.
Crows can serve as biological pesticide since they feed on centipedes, scorpions, snakes and the like.
To avoid them from feeding on the crops themselves, a small sample of the food can be placed alongside the field.
Furthermore they have symbiotic relationships with a number of other bird species and have been shown to aid in forest rehabilitation after fires.
As a pest, the government and most animal organizations refuse to provide assistance – monetary or otherwise – toward Ohev Orev’s efforts.
She has found some friends, however. After the Fire Department refused to rescue crows injured at the tops of trees, she found a partnership with ITC-Israeli Tree Climbing, which has a network of tree-climbing enthusiasts who were willing to help.
Despite getting a number of requests daily from people seeking advice on saving crows, Baruch, a traditional healer who runs the Olive Medicine Woman clinic at Moshav Amirim in the North, cannot do much at the moment.
She tries her best to advise, as well as providing the number of Dr. Adi Gantz, the only veterinarian in Israel who has agreed to cooperate with Ohev Orev.
In general, she advocates for people who find a seemingly- abandoned bird to leave it in it’s place.
At the moment, her main goal is to open a proper crow sanctuary with the mission to teach people not to be afraid of crows and rather be aware of their role in the ecosystem.
She is trying to raise the NIS 1 million needed to bring the vision to life. More important, though, she said the biggest donation would be that of land.
She is seeking 0.5 hectares (1.2 acres) worth of land, saying this would be the most important step in making sure the project takes flight.