Since the first big flock returned ten days ago Pittsburgh's winter crows have been gathering at dusk in Oakland.
During Wednesday evening rush hour I saw a flock of 100 wheel high over Flagstaff Hill, circle twice and split in two. Half the crows dropped into Junction Hollow. The other half flew past CMU. The flock was so high and quiet that I was the only one to notice...
...until they landed. In the trees they have a lot to say and keep saying it until dark when they silently leave for the roost.
Their roost location is still evolving. In October and early November they favor the trees near Soldiers and Sailors Hall but typically move to Polish Hill by Thanksgiving. I can tell where they spent the night by the marks on the sidewalk.
The crows have favorite trees they return to each evening. On Monday a lot of them returned to a surprise.
While they were away, eight of their roosting trees disappeared from Ruskin Avenue. Literally disappeared! Here's what's left of one of the London plane trees. Click on the photo to see the row of stumps.
A couple of Novembers ago I counted crows roosting in those very trees and estimated 40 crows per tree that night. Multiplied by eight my guess is that 320 crows had to find a new place to roost on Monday. This was significant. I wish I'd been there to see their reaction.
What did they do? They probably shook their heads ("Those humans were at it again!") and moved on. After all they're transient. They sorted it out. It was no big deal.
(photos of crows by Sharon Leadbitter. photos of trees and sidewalk by Kate St. John)
p.s. I predict that non-birders will first notice the crows this coming Monday evening. Some of you know why. 😉