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The Crows' Night Roost
© Carl Cook
Have you noticed groups of crows flying overhead in the late afternoon, wheeling and diving? These are American Crows with a purpose. They're headed to their night roost, a giant slumber party. Up to 40,000 crows in one space is not uncommon for a winter-time roost. Gathering at dusk, crows land in a tree, then scuffle and squawk, filtering down through the branches.
The Crows’ Night Roost
Written by Ellen Blackstone
This is BirdNote!
[Cawing of American Crows]
Have you noticed groups of crows flying overhead in the late afternoon? These are American Crows with a purpose. They’re headed to their night roost, a giant slumber party. Up to 40,000 crows in one space is not uncommon for a winter-time roost.
Gathering in a park or woodland, they land in a tree, then scuffle and shuffle and squawk, filtering down through the branches; later arrivals force earlier birds lower in the trees. Naturalist and author Bil Gilbert is a founding member of the American Society of Crows and Ravens. He believes that the roost may afford the crows warmth, protection from predators, communication about food sources, and opportunities to locate prospective mates.
[Chortles and warbles of the American Crow]
Immature crows may spend the night in the roost year round, but adults of breeding age generally use the roost only during the non-breeding seasons. Imagine the ruckus when the first few thousand crows leave in the morning, about an hour before sunrise.
[Huge flock of crows]
Follow crows to their roost some autumn evening, if you can, and watch these avian acrobats wheel in. Hitchcock’s movie, The Birds, might come to mind. And if you go, a word of warning: you’d better take an umbrella.
[Cawing of crows]
To learn more about why the number of crows is growing so rapidly, come to our website, BirdNote.org.
Call of the single American Crow provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Recorded by G.A. Keller
Flock of roosting American Crows recorded at Foster Island, Seattle, by Martyn Stewart, Naturesound.org
Ambient crow track recorded by C. Peterson
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Chris Peterson
© 2011 Tune In to Nature.org October 2011 Narrator: Frank Corrado