Time’s Running Out: Where Are The Crows?

Crows flying to the roost at sunset near Wilkins Ave, Oct 2020 (photo by Joanne Tyzenhouse)

18 December 2023

For the past several years Claire Staples and I have counted crows for the Pittsburgh Christmas Bird Count (CBC). In a good year we count 20,000. In a bad year, 220. Stunning, isn’t it. The difference is not in the actual number of crows. It’s whether we can find them.

Please help. Let me know where you see crows overnight or after sunset, especially next week (after Christmas)!

You would think that 20,000 crows would be hard to miss but in late December they get tricky. Just before the CBC the crows change their roost several times or they split the roost and, suddenly, we can’t find half of them.

Several of you responded to Why Do 1000’s of Crows Roost in Town? with dates and locations. Your reports helped me figure out the crows moved on 11 December.

  • Dec 10: Up until Dec 11 Tom saw them roosting near the VA Hospital in Oakland.
  • Dec 11: Jeff Cieslak saw 1000s flying over the North Side parallel to Allegheny River, heading upstream.
  • Dec 12: I counted 4,000 flying west-southwest over Schenley Park’s golf course at dusk. Where were they going?
  • Dec 13: Sue Faust reported them hanging out on the North Side and flying over the Strip District at dusk.
  • Dec 16: Carol Steytler counted as many as 10,000 roosting upstream of the 16th Street Bridge across from Heinz Lofts (across the river?).
Twilight over the Allegheny River at Pittsburgh. Crows swirl near Heinz chimneys, 6 Feb 2021, 5:50pm, taken at 25th St (photo by Kate St. John)

Carol’s 16 December sighting matches a roost they used back in February 2021 (photo above) but they didn’t stay there long and I fear they won’t stay now. And this is only half of them.

Where will the crows be 12 days from now?

I know I’m going to miss their next move because I’ll be out of town December 21-28. Your help is really crucial. Please let me know where you see crows overnight or after sunset. Let me know where you see a big flock swirling. Claire & I also need to find a good vantage point for counting them.

Fingers crossed that we’ll successfully count the crows on Saturday 30 December.

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