12,000 Crows

Though they’ve moved away from residential neighborhoods and are keeping a relatively low profile, Pittsburgh’s East End crow roost has attracted some attention lately.

Perhaps it’s because sunset is later so we see them during rush hour(*).  Perhaps it’s because they’re noisy.  Perhaps it’s their sheer numbers.

Jack and Sue Solomon counted them on December 31 for Pittsburgh’s Christmas Bird Count.  Knowing the crows gathered above Bigelow Boulevard, Jack and Sue waited at dusk in a parking lot opposite Liberty Ave. and 25th Street and watched the hillside above The Strip.   Their estimate?  More than 12,000 crows.

What does that look like?

Sharon Leadbitter filmed them at twilight last Friday.  The first video (23 seconds) shows them flying overhead at Polish Hill.  The video below (2:18) shows them filling the trees above Bigelow Boulevard near the French Fry sculpture.

The flock is raucous only at their staging area.  After dark they fall silent and leave the trees to roost in parts unknown.

If you want to witness this for yourself, January is the time to do it.  Next month the flock will begin to break up.  By March they’ll be gone.

(video by Sharon Leadbitter)


(*) The days are getting longer.  Sunset today is at 5:12pm, even later than it was on November 12 when I last wrote about Pittsburgh’s crows.

9 thoughts on “12,000 Crows

  1. Thank you Sharon for great videos!! Thank you Kate for posting this. Thanks to Jack and Sue Solomon for their effort in counting.
    I recall 2 years ago while looking for and watching the White-winged Crossbills in Allegheny Cemetery I was amazed then at how many crows were flying overhead and also a few lovely hawks!!!

  2. The first video (didn’t see the second yet) reminds me of the time in early 2005 when I stood on Penn Ave. near Reizenstein and counted the crows flying toward Point Breeze for the GBBC. I think it was almost 2,000 crows counted in ½ hr right before dark that day. And right before election day in Nov 2004, I was in downtown Wilkinsburg right before and after dark, and there were thousands moving around that location, even flying around after dead-dark too! Really neat to see that in person.


  3. Every night around 5 5:30, they come through here. Takes at least 10 minutes for all to pass. Then you have the 2 stragglers at the end! Amazing to watch and they are prompt!

  4. It was AWESOME to be surrounded by so many … so worth getting sick over. If you have FaceBook go on my page and check out the pictures as well.

    If you have the chance, there’s a service road in the little parklet on Bigelow. Go there around 4:45-5 and just wait … they will come.

  5. awesome. I loved seeing where they end up. I see them between 4 and 5 each evening floating over the Woodland hills High School area going from northeast toward southwest. They look like they are headed toward town but just float quietly for at least an hour — just more and more of them — so the raucus bunch above was a surprise. I guess the new arrivals are telling the others how their days went!!!
    Wonderful how many people watch them!!!!

  6. Kate St. John,

    I do enjoy reading your blog and learn a lot about birds, but, when it comes to crows – it’s not a FLOCK(of crows), it’s MURDER of crows….

    I started wondering about(word “murder”) after PBS documentary was titled: “The Murder Of Crows”

  7. Well, yes. A “murder of crows” is another way to say a “flock of crows.” Here’s an interesting list of alternate names for groups of animals/birds/fish:

    I am particularly fond of “a charm of finches” and “an exaltation of larks.” I don’t understand how someone/anyone came up with “a deceit of lapwings.”

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