Tonight was a spectacular night as we had a beautiful sunset and low winds – and yes a bit chilly. We watched the crows from the roof of the parking garage just south of the New Balance Factory parking lot staging in the South Common, later moving towards the roost many gathering on the roof of the B & D Warehouse to the west of the garage on the corner of Merrimack and South Union St.. and finally watched them from the New Balance parking lot dropping as darkness fell into the roost in the tops and outer branches of the thin line of trees along the Merrimack River beside New Balance.

We were joined by Melanie and Mark Pearlstein of Swampscott, Fern Woodruff of Nashua, NH and Carol Linder of Londonderry, NH; Ed Hazell of Somerville, George Cumming of Middleton, Henrietta Yelle, her husband and son Henry, and Karen and Margaret Towle of Arlington, and Shelly Selwyn of Andover. For those of you who were there, please feel share your impressions either directly with me or posting them onto one of the list serves. At the conclusion of our walk, we found Karen Levitt and her husband Steve Morris from Chelmsford and her friend Maxa Berid from Lowell walking back from looking at the crows on foot. We are now in email contact with them.

When we first got there, we watched them gathering from the glass walled, HEATED south elevator open space. Now how lucky is that? At first, there were few in the trees and on the ground in the park but then the show really began. Yes, I know I have seen this before but it still thrills to see thousands of birds peppering the sky wheeling towards you. You might say “they are just crows”, but “thousands of crows?” It is exciting, majestic, awe inspiring – you choose the adjective –  to see the specs grow larger and larger and then spiral down into the trees below. At first they came from the south – so, so many. And then as the sun was setting, the show from the west began. You are now looking into a beautiful western sky sometimes with spectacular cloud formations. [By now many of us were outside where we could hear the crows too.] Suddenly, the specks of pepper appeared in the colorful sky with the impressive backdrop of old textile mill chimneys and majestic church steeples.  Lastly, last night impressive numbers of crows came in from the east  and they seemed to move beyond the park (no wonder the trees were now topped  with black bobbles) settling on roofs to the west of us.  You are in the midst of an old red brick mill city along the Merrimack River and for about an hour and a half this natural phenomena is constantly swirling around you. As dusk settled in, they began to lift off the trees in the park, hundreds at a time and move towards the New Balance Building headed towards the roof. Wave after wave went by us silhouetted by the brighter western sky – as one mentioned it was like orchestrated at a restaurant were table after table is asked to join the line to get food. As we left the garage and walked back to the parking lot, we could see them lifting off the roofs and crossing Merrimack St.  Once in the parking lot from the upper NW corner we watched them against a lighter sky dropping into the thin line of trees where they will spend the night.

Researchers elsewhere have shown with satellite tagged birds that these birds probably came from up to 20 miles away – a ritual they will make each winter night.  We need to get some tags on “our” birds to see where they spend the day and where they will go to nest.  A researcher and money is all we need!!!!!

Earlier in the winter the majority of crows came in from the east; last night there seemed to be so many from the south and the west.  The eastern and western groups have followed the river we believe.  There patterns will change as their daily search for new food sources takes them in different directions.  They have probably learned of new food sources as they communicated in the roost.


Check out our blog for more information and pictures

Check out our detailed directions for visiting the roost on the blog

Visit the all crow art exhibit open until March 15th Monday to Friday 10-6 at the Essex Art Center at 56 Island St. in Lawrence

Watch for the Sunday January 20th Boston Globe article on the crows in the North Section.

Visit local stores and restaurants while you are here. Need some suggestions?

Watch for the next guided tour……

Visit on your own – a sunny afternoon with not too high wind is best but not essential

Encourage others to come…..



Dana Duxbury-Fox

North Andover, MA