Home Page2020-01-21T22:49:48-04:00
Essex Art Center

For decades, the banks of the Merrimack River in Lawrence, MA have hosted one of the largest winter crow roosts in New England. Both American and Fish Crows begin to form a nightly communal winter roost along the Merrimack River in October and continue through April. The estimated number of Crows last winter was well above 25,000! Seeing thousands of crows converge around the roosting location at sunset is an amazing natural phenomenon!

Please join us at Essex Art Center on Sunday, February 23, 2020 for a gallery tour, a short 2020 Crow Patrol update by Craig Gibson, and then a 15 minute talk and Q&A with Prof. Christian Rutz. Prof Rutz is biology professor from Scotland, visiting scholar at Radcliffe College, a Rhodes Scholar, and international expert on New Caledonian Crows and their ability to craft tools for foraging. The gallery tour and talk will be followed by a trip to viewing areas near the crow roost to watch the sunset “crow show”. Please note: you must provide your own transportation to the viewing area; directions will be provided. Please remember to dress appropriately for the weather!

This event is free and open to the public, but seating is limited, so  REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED via Eventbrite.

Event schedule:

3:30 pm: Essex Art Center opens; guests may explore EAC’s galleries, which are “Celebrating the Winter Crow Roost” from January 10 through March 15 by featuring crow-related art, photographs, videos and more.

4:15 pm: 2020 Crow Patrol update, then presentation followed by Q&A with Prof. Christian Rutz, Professor of Biology at University of St. Andrew’s in Scotland

5:00 pm: Depart from Essex Art Center to crow viewing areas (guests must provide their own transportation; directions will be provided. Viewing areas may be within walking distance of EAC, but are of course determined by the crows and therefore subject to change!)

5:15 pm: Arrive at Crow viewing area

5:20 – 6:00 pm: Observe and photograph staging and roosting crow activities (sunset is at 5:26 p.m.)

6:00pm: Debrief session at Spicket River Brewery with tasting of a local craft brew “Crowpacalypse Beer”


The city of Lawrence, MA lies in the heart of the Merrimack Valley near the border of southern New Hampshire. It is located in Essex County, along the Merrimack River, and is about twenty-five miles north of Boston. Lawrence enjoys a rich history as a city of immigrants, and has a large number of massive old brick textile mill buildings.

For decades, the city has hosted a significant winter crow roost. The winter crow roost consists of mostly American Crows, along with a smaller number of Fish Crows. Typically, an hour before sunset, the crows gather in smaller pre-roost groupings. These pre-roost (staging) locations may change on any given night. The crows then converge about a half hour after sunset, into a final roost location. For many years, the final roost location had been along the south side of the Merrimack River, by the New Balance building complex. Over the winter of 2017-2018, and 2018-2019, the final roost location changed many times. The size of the winter roost typically grows from an initial group of 2,500 in October to over 25,000 crows in January and February!

It is an amazing sight to see and you are invited to take a closer look, through this blog, to learn more and enjoy this awesome avian experience.