Help Me Find Pittsburgh’s Winter Crows

Crows gathering at dusk in Schenley Park, 21 Jan 2017 (photo by Mike Fialkovich)

5 December 2022

For the past several years I’ve counted Pittsburgh’s winter crow flock for the Christmas Bird Count. Some years I’ve counted as many as 20,000 but last year was a bust. Steady rain, fog, and the fact that the crows moved their roost just before the CBC meant I counted only 220. Aaarrg!

I will not be foiled again this year but I need your help. Where are the crows settling for the night? If you know where they are overnight or after sunset, leave a comment to let me know.

I say “overnight or after sunset” because crows make a big noisy deal out of gathering in large numbers on their way to the roost. Hundreds stage at the tops of trees and shout as more come in. When the sky darkens, they fall silent and leave. For where? That’s the question!

Where are they roosting? (photo from Wikimedia Commons)

Last weekend I tried to find them. By 5:00pm on Saturday 3 December I was sure I’d found the roost by watching from Mt Washington at the Mon Incline (my vantage point is the pink V on the map below). Crows staged in the trees in The Saddle on Sycamore Street, then left for a tree-filled hillside near Kirkpatrick Street below Oak Hill, marked in yellow 12/3/22. I counted about 7,500.

Yesterday I went back to Mt. Washington, confident they’d do the same thing and I was wrong! They didn’t gather in the The Saddle; they didn’t roost at Kirkpatrick. Instead they gathered in the Hill District above Bigelow Boulevard. I could barely count 2,000. As I drove home I saw thousands over Bigelow Boulevard but couldn’t count while driving. Aaarrg! My guess at their location is marked in yellow 12/4/22.

Did they end up near Heinz Lofts along the Allegheny River or on Troy Hill as they did a few years ago? (See orange blocks and question mark.)

Locations of Pittsburgh’s winter crow flock on Dec 3 & 4, 2022 at 5pm (mark up screenshot from Google Maps satellite view)

This year Claire Staples and I will count crows together for the CBC on 31 December but I fear the crows will foil us again.

Do you know where the crows are overnight or after sunset in Pittsburgh? If so, please leave a comment with your answer. (We will need this info especially during the week after Christmas.)

p.s. This weekend’s location change can probably be attributed to the weather. Strong west wind vs. weak southwest wind.

  • Sat 3 Dec 5pm: 43 degrees F. West wind gusting over 30 mph. Temperature falling.
  • Sun 4 Dec 5pm: 36 degrees F. SW wind at 6 mph. No wind chill.

(photo and map credits are in the captions; click on the captions to see the originals)

10 thoughts on “Help Me Find Pittsburgh’s Winter Crows

  1. Kate, a couple weeks ago, we saw a ton of crows on and around what I think is the Cardello Building near the West End Bridge.

    1. I don’t know where the crows are, but for at least today since 2:15 till now 2:45 that winter flock of robins and starlings have been in the Beelermont- Fair Oaks area flying around like mad and still here. .30 to 50 individuals, probably. Impossible to count them there is too much flying around.

  2. Unsure of sunset and overnight but sunrise they are all over the trees of my neighborhood in huge numbers. Think Hitchcock’s “The Birds” amount. I just moved to Pittsburgh in July so had no idea what was going on (Thanks Google), I thought they had gotten into people trash as it seems Thursday mornings is when I see the majority of them as the garbage is waiting to be picked up. I live in Mt. Oliver/Allentown area. Email me for specifics if wanted 🙂

  3. Many are roosting overnight on the trees at City View apartments and by the arena, like was said earlier. I’ve also seen some on overnight Forbes near the Duquesne parking garage and a few in the Crawford-Roberts area

  4. On December 14th at 5:10 PM, I was parked on Elmore Street next to the Thelma Lovette YMCA. I was looking southward. There were literally thousands of crows flying by. I would estimate the flight path was over the kennard playground. They were flying from east to west. There were way too many to count while in flight. I looked to see if they were circling around to see if I were looking at the same batch over and over again. I don’t think so though.

  5. Last week, there were at least 500 crows in the trees near the Duquesne University garage on Forbes Ave. My car got bombed; at least 50 direct hits.

  6. Okay, I followed them from Riverview Park (12/27 @ 330PM) across the river, through the West End gap, and they landed on the forested hillside behind the Parkway Center Giant Eagle, and were there at 430PM when I headed home. I didn’t get a count, there were some thousands but I couldn’t see what I would call a ridiculous number, and a steady stream was still coming in by the West End Bridge. The number and location comports with the direction that the flock I saw at Schenley a few weeks ago was heading (and they seemingly had disappeared from the city as I drove through it on the way home).

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