Where is Pittsburgh’s Crow Roost?

Crows on their way to roosting on Pitt’s campus, Nov 2016 (photo by Kate St. John)

If you live in Pittsburgh I need your help. Where are the crows sleeping?

On 28 December 2019, Claire Staples and I plan to count crows for the Pittsburgh Christmas Bird Count. In the past it’s been easy to find the winter flock. Our only challenge has been counting 10,000 to 20,000 crows.

This year I’m worried. Last evening I drove around Oakland at 8pm and couldn’t find a single crow. They aren’t in the trees near the Cathedral of Learning (Pitt is grateful!). They aren’t in lower Schenley Farms. They’re not at Flagstaff Hill or Schenley Drive or at CMU.

I know they’re in Pittsburgh. I’ve seen them streaming overhead at 4pm and counted 2,000 staging at Schenley Park. But they leave after dark. Where is the roost?

If you know where the crows are sleeping, please leave a comment and tell me where. (Here’s what a roost looks like, pictured in 2017.)

Crows roosting near Heinz Chapel in 2017 (photo by Kate St. John)

Even if you don’t know where they sleep, it helps to know where thousands of crows are flying at dusk and dawn. What direction are they going? Please leave a comment to let me know.

It would be a real shame if Claire and I can’t count the crows!

(photos by Kate St. John)

27 thoughts on “Where is Pittsburgh’s Crow Roost?

  1. Endless stream of crows around 4pm yesterday at Hartwood Acres as we were walking dogs. Believe direction was NE to SW. Will confirm diection. We were near the mansion. The were Very visible as we drove home along Saxonburg rd.

    1. In Manchester on the North Side, there are so many Crows in my neighborhood that I decided to search the internet to see if this is normal and that’s how I found your page. They roost in a tree near my house and there are so many that it spooked me a bit.

  2. We live in Squirrel Hill on Northumberland between Shady and Murray. In the morning I hear and see the crows flying East. 3:30-4:00 they are flying West, back to Oakland or whoever they roost. We call it “ the crow rush hour”. I’ve oftened wondered where they roost.

  3. I saw the huge flock last night, maybe 5 pm. They were all in the trees at the top of Flagstaff Hill, chatty and very noisy, but then a hawk swooped through and the entire flock dispersed toward the CMU campus.

  4. (I posted this on your Facebook page, too.) Funny you should ask. Two nights ago they swarmed behind Temple Sinai at the top of Forbes Avenue in Squirrel Hill. I stood in Kittanning Way, behind the synagogue, watching them. They just kept coming and coming, out of the south/southeast. Basically, all the trees in the area bounded by Murdoch, Aylesboro, Wightman and Forbes. Makes sense since that’s a high point overlooking Oakland, where they seem to have been driven out.

  5. I live near Hartwood Acres and early morning I have seen tons of crows on route 910 right before Premium Landscape supplies. There were so many I thought they were going to fly into my car. Twice I have seen them pecking the ground and flying around in that same area just after dawn. I have seen long lines of them fly over my house in that direction in the evening. I hope this might help. I will try to get better directions and pull over if I see them again.

  6. I live in Schenley Farms, and unfortunately Pitt and some neighbors play recordings of predatory birds to chase them away…at least its a humane solution to what they deem a problem.

    At twilight I’ve seen the crows flying over Schenley Farms coming from the direction of Centre Ave/Parkman Ave, flying towards Schenley Park.

    I have seen signs of roosting crows (lots of dense white droppings on the sidewalk) in front of a house near the bend in Bigelow Blvd and in front of the School for the Blind next to Schenley Farms, so there are some roosting here.
    From my experience with how many birds leave that many droppings I would guess maybe around 100 crows may have roosted in the trees there…only a portion of what flies over.

    Personally the crows are a welcome sight when they roost in the big trees in our yard- we love them and the droppings wash away in the rain….no problem.

    Also I think the crows brought some balance to all the Falcons and Hawks which seem to overrun this neighborhood, which eat the songbirds, and stalk our bird feeders. Seemed the crows kept the birds of prey more spread out rather than having so many concentrated here.

  7. My daily commute takes me through East Liberty and Larimer and I usually see little groups of crows (about 10 or so) hanging out in trees along Stanton Ave, Highland Ave, and E Liberty Blvd. This is usually between 9 and 10 AM.

  8. My coworkers at Schenley Place in North Oakland have been seeing them in the evenings on Bayard near Bigelow and Ruskin. They say there are hundreds in the trees nearby.

  9. They roost next to the golf course in the trees off the grassy area near a bend in the park drive that goes down to Westinghouse fountain.

  10. They are roosting in the trees surrounding the Western PA School for Blind Children! Along Bellefield Avenue, Bayard as it becomes Bigelow Blvd! Thousands of them come every evening, it’s the worst I’ve ever seen it. Pitt is managing to keep them off their campus and there are some crows spotting the north edge of the campus.

  11. happily, i saw many hundreds, perhaps even thousands crossing the Greensburg Pike headed toward town (or Oakland) this morning at 8. I have been worried because up to now i have only seen a few hundred crossing the Pike in the afternoon, but this was one of those flyovers that went on for several minutes.

  12. Around 5:15-5:30 Friday evening Pat and I saw a river of crows flying from Schenley Park over the Carnegie Musuems parking lot, and heading north.

  13. On December 22nd just before 5pm, I was heading East on 5th Avenue in Shadyside (approximate cross-street would be Negley). I saw like 389 billion crows flying west. I took a video of it because I couldn’t believe how many there were…I’ve never seen anything like it! If you’d like me to send you the video, I’d be more than happy to.

  14. This evening we noticed about 100 crows roosting in the London Plane trees in front of the Carnegie Library. Some of them were spooked by us walking on the sidewalk there and took off towards Flag Staff Hill and the others stayed.

  15. I saw a massive crowd of them last night (12/26) flying around a tall apartment at the intersection of Negley Ave and Baum/Centre Ave in Shadyside/Bloomfield/Friendship.

    1. Molly, Here’s an answer I provided to Jack Solomon at 3RBC:
      The winter crow flocks flies away from the roost in all directions. They go as much as 30 miles to find food. They go to every dump you can think of including Imperial, Kelly Run, Wilmerding, etc. They go to farm fields (Janoski’s, etc), to malls with dumpsters, and many more places. At midday you might see only 5 crows at one of these sites, but in late afternoon they gather with other crows into loose flocks and head for their staging areas (intermediate stops). From there they fly to the roost.

  16. This evening they’re gathering around South Hills Junction, in large trees circling it. for a few hundred yards in every direction. Since a little after 4 PM.

  17. There is a large roost in the wooded area farthest North East between Mount Washington and the Southside Slopes. When I’m out walking the neighborhoods, I often see them flying NE so I started walking trails to find where they were all going; JACKPOT!!!

    1. Thank you, Norman! Claire Staples and I counted crows from the Bluff at Duquesne Univ where we could see crows heading towards the South Side Slopes (probably the spot you describe) & arriving at Duquesne U. We counted 20,000 total — both sides of the river.

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