Saturday, October 26, 2013

Crows Flocking in the City

Yesterday evening was the first time this year that I witnessed one of my favorite bird events - the daily flocking of crows during the cold months of the year.  Crows roost together in large groups for the night during the winter.  They are very noticeable converging on their roosting location every evening, and dispersing in the morning.  I'm sure there isn't one day when all the crows decide that it's time to start the winter roosting behavior; it must be a gradual process of more and more crows joining the roost as the days get shorter and colder.  But yesterday was the day I first noticed the behavior; I'm sort of an observant person, so I'm guessing the flocking has just recently started in earnest.

I think one of the reasons that I enjoy watching the crows streaming into and out of the city is it's such a lively activity during an otherwise mostly quiet time of the year.  I find it a welcoming and warming commotion on a frigid winter morning, and in the evening it's something to look forward to, instead of just grudgingly accepting the fact that the sun really is just making a brief appearance, again, for the day.

Minneapolis is home to a few winter crow roosts every year.  My understanding is that the location of these roosts isn't always the same from year to year.  A website called has maps of reported crow roosts from around the country.  I think there's usually a roost somewhere along the river in my neighborhood of NE Minneapolis, but it doesn't seem to be reported; I'm not sure where it is exactly - I might have to look for it this year.  For some information on why crows roost in large winter flocks, and why they might do it in the city, visit the Frequently Asked Questions About Crows page from the Cornell Bird of Ornithology.