Tokyo’s Bird Menace

Aug 13, 2016 0 comments

For decades, the city of Tokyo has been waging a losing battle against winged invasion. Crows, cormorants, owls and birds of other species have invaded the metropolis in tens of thousands. They nest in utility poles and cause blackouts, steal hangers to build nests, dive-bomb on citizens, poop and peck. It’s an eerie reminiscent of the Alfred Hitchcock’s thriller The Birds where a small town gets victimized by a flock of birds.

Ornithologists blame the decrease in forests and breeding areas due to progressive urban development, causing the birds to move into human populated areas. Besides, there are tons of fresh garbage to eat from and lot of sheltered places in the city to raise families.

When Japanese photographer Yoshinori Mizutani moved to Tokyo for university, he was surprised by the massive number of birds in the city. Since then, Mizutani has been trying to highlight the issue of invasive birds in cities, and through his photography, show how the urban landscape has been made surreal by their presence.


Photo credit: Yoshinori Mizutani

In this latest series, Mizutani photographed flocks of cormorants perched on overhead power lines becoming silhouettes that resemble musical notes on a score. He calls this series HANON, in reference to the French piano instruction book. Although his images appear to be nearly monotone, they were actually shot in color.

“Since the 1980s, the great cormorant has been enjoying a population explosion in Japan thanks to improved water quality and the protection of their colonies,” said Mizutani. “The large rise in cormorant numbers has resulted in widespread problems, such as damage to the fishing industry, recreational fishing and other fauna and flora.”

Previously, Mizutani had photographed Tokyo’s parakeet population. These brightly colored birds have a different history, unlike that of the crows and cormorants who came from the suburbs and disappearing forests. 

The parakeet was originally brought to Japan as pets from places such as India and Sri Lanka. But when they turned out to be too noisy, many owners released them. They now inhabit in great numbers in the city’s trees.

Related: City Crows Build Nests Out of Coat Hangers


Photo credit: Yoshinori Mizutani


Photo credit: Yoshinori Mizutani


Photo credit: Yoshinori Mizutani


Photo credit: Yoshinori Mizutani


Photo credit: Yoshinori Mizutani


Photo credit: Yoshinori Mizutani


Photo credit: Yoshinori Mizutani


Photo credit: Yoshinori Mizutani


Photo credit: Yoshinori Mizutani


Photo credit: Yoshinori Mizutani


Photo credit: Yoshinori Mizutani


Photo credit: Yoshinori Mizutani


Photo credit: Yoshinori Mizutani


Photo credit: Yoshinori Mizutani

via The Guardian


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