Roost after dark!

Feb. 1, 2022: heavy overcast skies, wind N at 5MPH, temp at 30F; sunset time 4:58PM

Out on Crow Patrol with initial stops along Waverly Road in North Andover and the Lawrence Municipal Airport. Crows were seen in staging mode in multiple locations, and then later converging into the overnight roost trees along Marston Street. In staging mode, the Crows gather in pre-roost aggregations in smaller groupings and with loud vocalizations, before heading off in flight to the overnight communal roost. This image was captured about 15 minutes before sunset time at the airport while Crows were streaming into and landing in trees around the west side of the airport.

At sunset time, we saw many flight waves of Crows arriving from the south, coming in over the Merrimack River into the general roost area. The vocalizations were loud and active. This image was captured minutes after sunset time from the south side of Marston Street by R&R Auto Repair.

In this general location along Marston street, the Crows continue to assemble in the trees, both on the hillside and up into the nearby neighborhood farther back, behind the north side of Marston Street. The roosting Crows stretch out in the hillside trees for over 200 yards and cover a total area of over 5 acres. The tops of the hillside trees attracted the Crows in a very dense way, much more than before. As always, we were entertained by a series of dramatic flight bursts! This image was captured about 17 minutes after sunset time.

At 40 minutes after sunset time, as the Crows settled in for the night in the roost, the overall action tapered off and the noise did too. On most nights, some of the Crows make micro adjustments in their perching locations, but almost always within the outer boundaries of the roost. This image of the roosting Crows was captured looking NE and skyward from Marston Street.

Before calling it a night, we always attempt another viewpoint, if at all possible. Tonight we drove up and around the very southern end of the hillside area to get a sense of the depth of the roost. We found lots of trees loaded with quiet Crows and taking advantage of ambient light from nearby streetlights in the residential neighborhood. This image was captured almost an hour after sunset time, and looks through two homes, and into the trees in the shared backyard area. It was another spectacular Crow Show!!

The 2021 Audubon Christmas Bird Count (CBC) for the Andover Circle, for this separate Crow Count was 12,250 Crows. Last year, the 2020 CBC Andover Circle Crow Count was 15,200. 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 to carefully document our observations and to increase reliability and accuracy of the presented numbers. 

Remember to check out the newly launched Crow Patrol Podcast:

Photo gear used for this outing:

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 1DX MK II with Canon EF Telephoto Zoom 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM

Sony AX700 4K HDR Camcorder

ATN BinoX 4K Smart HD Binoculars with photo/video

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Blog post and photos by Craig Gibson, 2021 Crow Patrol