Common Raven, not a Crow, but he looks so cool I had to use him here (photo from Shutterstock)

15 January 2008

In the evening the crows now flock to Oakland and roost around WQED.  Everyone notices them and wonders what the crows are doing.

Expert answers from Cornell University’s Kevin McGowan can be found here.  Please do click on the link and read about crow roosts.  It’s fascinating!

My answers – totally non-expert – are best expressed by my favorite poem that describes what these entertaining black birds are up to:

Crows  by Doug Anderson, from Blues for Unemployed Secret Police Curbstone Press ©2000.  Reprinted by permission,


Hunch in the trees
to gossip
about God and his inexorable
about deer guts and fish so stupid
you could sell them air
and how out in the deserts
there’s a dog called coyote
with their mind
but no wings.
Crow with Iroquois hair.
Crow with a wisecrack
for everybody,
Crow with his beak
thrust through a bun,
the paper still clinging.
Then one says something
and they all leave,
the trees are not
what they used to be.
Crow with oilslick eyes.
Crow with a knife
sheathed in a shark’s fin.
in a midnight blue suit
standing in front of a judge:
Your Honor, I didn’t
kill him,
just ate him
and I wasn’t impressed.
clustered in the bruise light
in the bottoms
of dreams.
Crows in the red maple.
Crows keeping disrespect
Crows teasing a stalking cat,
lifting off at the last minute,
snow shagging down
from their wings.
Crows darkening the sky,
making fun of the geese
on their way to Florida.
Crows in the roses,
beaks and thorns.
Crows feeding lizards
to their brood.
Crows lifting off road kill,
floating back down
after the car has passed.
Crow with a possum eye
speared on its beak.
Crow with a French fry.
in the chicken cages
on their way to market,
the farmer finally gone mad.
Crows hunkered down
rumpling feathers,
announcing the cataract
of snow
over the sun.
The crows prosper.
Carrion is everywhere.
The night
that is coming
is so dark
it will feel
like fur on the eyes.
So dark suddenly
you cannot see the snow.
Thrust your hand in it.
Hear it like sand
blowing on the roof.
A crow shifts his foot
and snow sifts
down from the tree.

(Shutterstock photo of a Raven – not a crow – but he looks so cool I had to use him here.)

6 thoughts on “Crows…

  1. Kate – I just found your blog and can hear your voice as I read your insightful prose. Oh that we were sitting on the porch at the Harbourside eating blueberry muffins and chatting about what we saw yesterday before heading out on our next adventure. The crows up here have been chased out of downtown Auburn and Geneva but lurk on the limits, beyond heckling from humans–for now, at least. Every now and then I see them stir en masse from a stand of spruce or hardwoods. It’s good to know that you’re on the lookout in Pittsburgh and sharing what you see with others. Cheers.

  2. absolutely love your prose on crows!
    Their caw is such a lazy, lonely sound, and when I was in India many years ago, just to hear the crow rushed me back home in my thoughts and memories.
    Thanks for your verse, just loved it.

  3. Hello,

    Great website! I have a question. There are thousands or even tens of thousands of large blackbirds in Shadyside tonite. They appear to be nesting for the evening in dozens of tall trees. Every few minutes, another group comes flying in in groups of dozens or hundreds. Any idea what these birds might be? It’s night, so I can’t get a good look or picture of them. Thanks.

  4. Brian, I moved your comment from the “About” area to “Crows” because I think the large black birds you saw are crows.

    During the winter large flocks of crows congregate in Pittsburgh. Right now (Nov 10, 2008) I know there are at least 500 here – undoubtedly more – but I haven’t been able to count them yet. If this winter is like last year, there’ll be 14,000 crows in the City by early January.

    Your comment has sparked a question in my mind: Why did these birds come to Shadyside after dark? Were they disturbed at their original roost? Hmmmm.

  5. My favorite Crow poem:

    the way a crow shook down on me
    the dust of snow from a hemlock tree
    has given my heart a change of mood
    and saved some part of a day i had rued.

    -robert frost

    Thought you might enjoy it.

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