19 November 2023
As I wrote in Trying To Move The Crows last Thursday, Pittsburgh’s winter crow flock now numbers 6,000 to 10,000 and will build to 20,000 by the end of December. Their final flight to the roost every evening is so impressive that I included a video taken from my apartment window. Annie commented, “Your video is incredible! But where do the crows go during the day? And does morning look the same as they leave?”
In the morning crows leave the roost before sunrise but not nearly in the numbers I see at dusk, probably because most of them leave when it’s too dark to see Black Birds in a Black Sky. They are tiny silhouettes in this sunrise photo.
The crows fan out in all directions and travel 6 to 50 miles one way — in stages — to find food. Flocks of 10 to 50 go to neighborhoods on trash day.
Photographer Sue Thompson said these crows were a day too early. It wasn’t Garbage Day yet.
Some groups visit restaurants and shopping centers to explore the dumpsters.
But for a really big feast crows go to landfills. There are at least seven large landfills within 30 miles of Pittsburgh’s crow roost. The nearest are 8-15 miles “as the crow flies.”
In mid-afternoon they start to head back in stages. At first there are just a few crows per flock.
They pause along the way in ever greater numbers as they combine into boisterous, noisy flocks. At the staging areas they meet new friends, greet neighbors, and exchange information about their day. It’s “The Bar Scene For Crows.”
The last stage is a only few blocks from the roost. Often they fly in after dark.
And the next morning they start all over again. If people rousted them from the prior night’s roost they’ll pick a new one and change the final staging area so that it’s close to the new location. Crows can be flexible.
p.s. If you did not see the video taken from my apartment window at Trying To Move The Crows, check it out here: