Yes ”Oh, my God”!

Last night, after two nights of the deep freeze and the Sunday snow and ice storm, we ventured forth. This is after having a detailed discussion that afternoon with Mass Audubon about a Sunday visit to the roost and how the garage “had those heated elevator shafts and glass sides looking right out onto the staging crows”.

I can’t say, after our extensive Keystone Cops searches for the staging and roosting crows after January 9th last year, that I was surprised BUT, as Bob and I drove past the South Common, THERE WAS NOT ONE CROW and it was past the hour before sunset. Well, it was abundantly clear that things were different as we drove along Market Street. Ahead the crows were heading – NORTH, yes, NORTH. As we got to the corner of So. Common St. and Merrimack St. more were headed north to the west of us. I was driving and I didn’t even go to the New Balance Parking Lot; this was a different night. For what ever reason, the crows were not going to stage in South Common. So I turned west on Merrimack, drove by So. Canal St. with the truck depot and National Grid Parking area out towards the Casey Bridge and followed the crows north. Where were they going? By this time, we have become familiar with certain parts of the city – but only where the crows have been previously!!

I kept admonishing Bob “watch the crows” as I tried to navigate the streets of Lawrence at a busy time and with the addition of snow on the streets. Well, I head north on Hampshire St. and kept going. When I saw some in the tree tops, I turned right (east) and we eventually got into a brick housing complex. I had no idea where I was. I summoned my cell phone and said “Where am I” Google to the rescue!! If found me and I could easily see that I and the crows were located along the Spiget River. This is a small river that spins through the city from west to east with a series of deciduous tress along each bank and a walking path. Beyond that are a continuous mass of houses. It eventually enters into the Merrimack River on the north side amongst the mill buildings to the east of our New Balance Parking Lot. I also noticed that I was not far from the cemetery complex where they first moved to last year.

Well, for three quarters of an hour I drove along the Spicket River in and out up and down streets. At one point, I called Craig Gibson and he kept tracing where we were based upon the landmarks and infrequent street names we could see. Now, based upon when we started you can now imagine, it was getting darker and darker. More and more crows were lining the river side. At one point, Bob saw someone clapping and raising their hands obviously to encourage the crows to move elsewhere. Suddenly, some of the crows flew south. Where were they going now? Eventually, we too moved south – it is dramatic how different “as the crow flies” is from how you can maneuver your car through Lawrence. Somehow I guessed they were headed back to the Merrimack River to their roost. By now we could not even see them in the dark sky.

The New Balance Parking Lot in the upper NW corner gave us a perspective on the thin line of trees along the side of the building by the water’s edge. Fortunately, there was ambient light from the mills and through our bincos we could see thousands of crows pouring in from the north – some dropping into the trees; some going further west. It was eerie and dramatic at the same time.

Eventually, we moved over to So. Canal St. to see those that were out of sight. Many were on the ground nearest the river in the National grid parking lot, many were on the wires above. It was now well past 6 pm – long after there going to roost time but many of them were back. No way to tell if they all were there. But, we had just had another unbelievable night “on Crow Patrol” and who knows what tonight will bring.

As they saw, you had to be there to believe it.

Until my next report,

Dana Duxbury-Fox
North Andover, MA