Taking a look at the weather: After days of gray skies we had 3 days of sun. What a luxury. Today, though we had another cloudy day, the temperature got up to 52 degrees F. Records were broken. Folks flocked outside without their jackets. The snow finally melted from my roof and I had to pick my way around the icicle shards that had fallen.
Despite the overcast day, the skies cleared enough to produce a beautiful sunset. I left work at around 5:30 and decided to drive over to the local university to catch the sun before I lost the light completely.
As I drove by the University auditorium, I caught a glimpse of a flock of birds settling in for the night in a small grove of mature trees. I pulled into the parking lot to get a closer look.
They were crows, hundreds of crows, circling around the grove, looking for a spot to settle in for the night. In the distance, I saw more crows heading towards the same group of trees. The noise they made was deafening. I grabbed my camera.
Apparently, this is an annual phenomenon. Every year, after Christmas and throughout the winter, these birds gather together in this same grove of trees around sunset to spend the night. I don’t remember ever seeing this many crows together in one place. I needed more info.
So I did some googling and discovered the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, a reputable website. The site mentioned that during the winter crows often congregate in large numbers; their roosts can number into the thousands, even up to 2 million, and they will often gather in the same area year after year, decade after decade.
These huge flocks are called a “murder”, “cauldron”, “horde” , “congress” or “muster” of crows. You can just tell by the names that people have invented to describe these groups that the birds are thought to portray a dark and sinister intent.
A few other interesting facts are that crows don’t breed until they are at least 2 years old and that many of the younger crows stay with the parents and help raise the new chicks.
American crows are especially susceptible to the West Nile virus and it is thought that the loss of crows in some areas has been severe.
Crows are omnivorous. Though they are known as carrion eaters, roadkill is only a small part of their diet.
Check out the website for more information and gain a new appreciation for these misunderstood birds.
By the way, I did get some of the sunset photos I had originally planned to take.