Flight Streams!

Feb. 22, 2024 under mostly cloudy, wind SSW 8MPH, temp 41F; sunset time 5:24PM

Out on Crow Patrol with stops at staging locations along Sutton and Charles Street in North Andover. Moved to intersection along Marston Street. Major incoming flight streams coming from due south over the Merrimack River at 10 minutes after sunset time. After the Crows arrived in the general roost area, at the south end of Prospect Hill, the early arrival landed and perched in the tallest twigs and branches at the very top of the overall tree canopy.

As always, after the start of Crows setting up the roost, more huge numbers arrive, swarm the area, fill the air with boisterous vocalizations, and began to consolidate around the initial group. This image at 28 minutes after sunset, shows one of the typical arrival scenes.

As many more crows arrive, the swarm gets larger, and as the trees fill in, the size of the incoming flight streams grow exponentially. This creates a sense of total mayhem to the human observer, but it is very normal for the Crows and all part of arriving to the overnight party and getting settled in for the night. This image at 35 minutes post sunset time.

On most nights, the roost settles in and the vocalizations begin to subside at 40-45 minutes post sunset time. At times it looks like the roost is settled for the night and few additional flight movements are expected at all. This image at 40 minutes post sunset time.

However, it is always dazzling to experience a few additional flight bursts from a well settled roost, as it is even more dramatic the the prior flight bursts and always short-lived as the Crows are usually quick to  return back into the roost trees. This image at 44 minutes post sunset time. Spectacular show tonight!

For the 2023 Audubon Christmas Bird Count (CBC) for the Andover Circle, this separate Crow Count was 11,600 total Crows, including American Crows and Fish Crows. In 2022, the CBC Andover Circle Crow Count was 13,750. Many thanks to Donna Cooper who coordinates and compiles the Andover Circle each year!

Note on counts/estimates: we are now using improved methods for counting the large number of Crows while streaming, staging, and in the roost. For all images, we use both a modified open source counting software program, as well as a hand count approach, while outside next to the roost, to carefully document our observations and to significantly increase reliability and accuracy of the presented numbers. Please refer to our new roost counting guide on main page.

The Canon mirrorless cameras with the RF 50mm f/1.2 lens and the RF 28-70mm F2 excel in low-light conditions, blending versatile focal lengths with an ultra-wide aperture. Both focal lengths work extremely well in very low light conditions, while the f/1.2  and F2 aperture settings ensure exceptional performance in low light conditions, offering stunning clear, and aesthetically pleasing images, making them ideal for the challenging very low light conditions around the overnight roost.

Remember to check out the latest Crow Patrol Podcast with John Macone (Merrimack River Watershed Council): wintercrowroost.com/podcast/

Photo gear used for most outings:

Canon EOS 80D with Canon EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS 

Canon EOS 80D with Canon EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS (Infrared)     

Canon EOS R6 Mirrorless with Canon RF 28-70 f/2 L IS USM 

Canon EOS R6 II Mirrorless with Canon RF 50 f/1.2 L USM 

Sony AX700 4K HDR Camcorder

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