Have you ever had, or rather heard, a loud commotion of crows in trees near your home? I usually notice this behavior more in spring, but in the past few days, there’s been an unruly, noisy group congregating in my neighbor’s trees. These big black birds can wake you out of a sound sleep, or if you are awake, annoy, distract, or even scare you with their racket. What is going on?
It turns out that the gatherings have a purpose. A large flock will converge either in a tree or stand of trees, called a “roost.” This is where they will sleep that night, or perhaps a staging area until everyone arrives and they travel en masse to their actual sleeping roost, presumably not far away. (I read somewhere that they will travel up to 50 miles to return to a roost.) The ones outside our house this evening seem to be having loud discussions about their day while waiting for their companions. When they wake up in the morning, I imagine they will be debating or boasting about their plans for the coming day.
I’m not sure why I recoil at these birds. It can’t be all Alfred Hitchcock and Edgar Allen Poe’s fault. They do have a reputation for being thieves and bullies, and raiding crops and snatching up shiny objects. Heck, milling crowds of humans congregating in a small area, shouting, can be intimidating.