Lawrence Students Learn About Crow Roost During Career Day

Lawrence High School students who are enrolled in the Practical Academics 1 Program and Practical Academics Post-Graduate Program participated via Zoom in Career Day, which featured Craig Gibson of the Crow Patrol. “We initiated the Career Day Program to bring community members into the class on Zoom, every Friday, to explain about their careers or life passions,” said Genevieve Bleiler, Special Education Teacher.

The Practical Academics I Program is designed to support students identified with severe cognitive impairment, with or without multiple disabilities, who present limited functional adaptive skills. The students in this program evidence significant learning challenges across ALL domains (functional academics, social pragmatic skills and adaptive functioning skills). Instruction is provided in a substantially separate setting to balance academic learning with targeted programming in the areas of functional academics; activities of daily living; social, community, and pre-vocational skills development; health; and safety.

Craig was honored to be invited to be part of this ongoing Career Day forum with these local high school students. He provided an overview of the Winter Crow Roost in Lawrence touching on a variety of topics about the roost phenomenon, including:

  • Crows are very family-centered, social and smart;
  • About 80 percent of the crows that come into Lawrence every winter are from far away, often from points north. They are likely looking for safety, information exchanges, and food sources;
  • Crows tend to gather around the New Balance building and into the trees along the Merrimack River. Just before sunrise they disperse up to 30 miles away to foraging grounds;
  • No one knows why the Crows have chosen Lawrence in particular, but they have probably been coming for decades. “They keep coming to the same place, and they keep making many of the same patterns,” Craig said. “It’s absolutely fascinating.”

Craig showed the students some of the photos he has taken, including his particular favorite of crows in flight. After the presentation, students had a number of questions and comments, including:

  1. How many crows come to the Crow Roost?
  2. About 10,000 to 15,000, but we are only able to make rough estimates.
  3. How do you count the Crows?
  4. There are several ways. We estimate by counting blocks of maybe 100 or 500; we take all kinds photographs; and we are using drones to capture images to enhance counting methods .
  5. Can Crows see the ocean?
  6. They fly high enough so they might be able to see the ocean. Also, we have found seashells in pellets that indicated they might be flying to the shore during the daytime to feed. We don’t know for sure.
  7. Why did you start watching Crows?
  8. I had been taking photos of other birds in Lawrence when friends asked if I would join them, and help by taking pictures of Crows.
  9. Are you a magician, and can you do magic tricks with the Crows?
  10. I don’t know how to do magic tricks, but maybe we can find somebody who does.
  11. Are you taking pictures tonight?
  12. I’m not in Lawrence tonight, but I will be out one of the nights next week, I hope.
  13. Do you work?
  14. Yes, I’m a Catholic Chaplain at Lawrence General Hospital.

One student could see his home in a photo and another said she can see the crows themselves from her home.

A teacher wanted to know if Crows remember people. Craig referenced some studies that indicate they may, and then told how the crows seem to remember his car when he drives up to distribute peanuts!