A Kereru farming couple is championing the most unlikely of species.

Olrig Station's Richard Paterson and Trudy Burgess are aghast at Hawke's Bay Regional Council's crusade to rid their property of the high-flying rook.

It's an unusual plea on many fronts.

Yet to be fair, Hitchcock's The Birds did to the crow family what Spielberg's Jaws did to the shark; both were rendered villains.


Notwithstanding the bird's horror genre infamy, its cloak of utter darkness and its dissonant "kaah" song, the couple's stand is flawed fundamentally because they're primary producers.

That is, the learned experts (and regional council) attest that rooks feed on newly sown crops, particularly cereals, peas, maize and squash, often pulling young plants from the ground to get the seed.

In other words, the bird's a genuine threat to arable farmland.

"We know they're a pest to some farms but they are quite the opposite on ours," the couple said.

While I respect the nobility of backing the ugly duckling, their stance is myopic. It flies in the face of the collegiality of this country's rural fraternity, where a collective outlook on pest control is crucial.

Surely pests are everyone's responsibility?

Like possums, stoats and rabbits, the rook's akin to a weed - a plant in the wrong place.

They're not villainous, Hitchcock-esque ravens, they're simply on the wrong stage.

Nonetheless, the demand from Olrig Station is a wildly blinkered bid for clemency.