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A murder of Crows

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  • A murder of Crows

    Yes, pretty fascinating.

    Every single night, pretty much an hour before dark, hundreds of crows fly overhead.

    I have heard of an enormous roost just outside Vancouver and in fact, at the right time when driving in on the freeway the sky is almost blackened by them. They spend their days in Vancouver foraging for garbage, and then, at an appointed time they start collecting from all parts of the city. Some fly up to 45 minutes and they congregate and fly to their roost.

    Well, last night I my curiosity got the better of me, so I got in the car and followed them.
    Didn't have to go far, they hung a right a few blocks away and disappeared into a wooded area that I could not drive into. I'm glad they are not in my 'hood - they are pretty noisy.

    I find them fascinating - when we had baby lambs they immitated them perfectly. I could see their beaks opening and closing - answering the lambs bleats.
    Proud member of People Who Hate to Kill Wildlife clique

  • #2
    I think crows and ravens are the most interesting birds!! I never get tired of watching them trying to solve a problem, or harass a hawk or eagle. Isn't the Nature of Things on soon about just this topic, and with your title as its title? I opened it wondering if you were discussing the program since I won't or wasn't able to see it.
    Totally cool you were able to find out their "home". It would be really interesting (okay, loud) to be there when they wake up in the morning and head out to their "jobs". Probably an experience of a lifetime


    • #3
      Are you sure that they are not starlings? They are the most gregarious critters and noisy too. They gather for the flight south and create an ungodly racket.


      • #4
        Nope, that's definitely crows that the OP is talking about. Not that starlings aren't fascinating also. How in the world do hundreds and even thousands shift and wheel in those complicated kalidescope patterns?
        If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.
        Desmond Tutu


        • Original Poster

          Yes, they are definitely crows! I did a Google search and found out that they were not called flocks, but called a murder of crows - hence David Suzuki's program of the same name.

          I have a friend in that neighbourhood and will plan to ask her what they are like in the mornings. I don't think I am up that early!
          Proud member of People Who Hate to Kill Wildlife clique


          • Original Poster

            Yes, they are definitely crows! I did a Google search and found out that they were not called flocks, but called a murder of crows - hence David Suzuki's program of the same name.

            I have a friend in that neighbourhood and will plan to ask her what they are like in the mornings. I don't think I am up that early!

            BTW, Fanfayre, little Irish Tobey has his first show this w/e (complete with his big knee).
            Proud member of People Who Hate to Kill Wildlife clique


            • #7
              Ooooh Good Luck!!! He'll take it all in stride with his Irish temperament and brains, at least that's how my irish guy did it...
              Speaking of which, Big Irish Caleb, now 4, has been under saddle for a year and did two events this summer, finishing at Entry level!!! Sadly, I'm having to put him up for sale, as I cna't keep 3, and my AFR baby, Vida, is the one I'm putting my future on.


              • #8
                I once drove past a farm where some sheep had gotten out and were grazing right at the edge of a busy busy road. While another woman and I were herding them back into their field, I saw two crows sitting in the tree at the edge of the road, totally silent. I think they were waiting for roadkill to happen!

                I like watching for crows when I'm riding. They give away the locations of foxes, hawks, bobcats and other interesting wildlife.


                • Original Poster

                  Yes, that's what is so interesting - the nuances of Nature. So much to learn, so much to see.
                  Proud member of People Who Hate to Kill Wildlife clique


                  • Original Poster

                    My friend, Google, tells me that it is a murmuration of starlings - somewhat odd name since they are noisy little b***ers. And crows can be called a storytelling of crows. Both terms suit the crows.

                    At night when they come over, there are a few that come first (probably the same ones each night) and they have this loud call and very deliberate direction of flying. I feel they are the front ranks, calling the others.
                    Proud member of People Who Hate to Kill Wildlife clique


                    • #11
                      When I was growing up, we had plenty of them. Sometimes a chick might have died nearby and the damn crows would dive bomb all the passerbys. It was simply scary. I still get a little worried when I feel a few flying above me.


                      • Original Poster

                        ....and so you should be scared - Hallowe'en is coming ... heh, heh, heh.
                        Proud member of People Who Hate to Kill Wildlife clique


                        • #13
                          An friend of my dad's once said when he was a kid they used to shoot crows sometimes. He said when the crows were on the ground eating in the fields there was always one up in a tree on guard duty. One time they shot some crows that were eating in the field, and the rest of the flock took off and attacked the guard crow! Punishing it for not warning them about the danger, apparently!


                          • #14
                            Used to like them

                            While I had always liked crows, when I was a kid we had 2 babies that fell out of the pine in our yard.

                            Last year we had a family of 6 crows (4 kids and 2 parents), flying overhead throughout the day patrolling for baby Goldfinches nesting in the tangerines.

                            They finally found the Goldfinch nest with 4 babies who couldn't yet fly. It was right outside our door, and I had been hoping the little fellows would escape their eye. Nope. I ran outside too late.. the little fellows had just been eaten!

                            In our area we used to have huge flocks of crows... 60-70 ... that's too many for our songbird babies! I think that West Nile got most of them. I am not sad. Too many overwhelm the area.

                            Don't get me started on ants and how they eat the babies while they are stuck flightless! I am constantly on patrol for ants too!


                            • #15
                              ....and so you should be scared - Hallowe'en is coming ... heh, heh, heh.
                              Quothe the raven....Nevermore

                              I love watching crows. They are so intelligent, though I didn't realize what cannibals they are.


                              • #16
                                32,000 crows....

                                I'm in Vancouver and I think I know the crows you speak of. It is a huge murder or crows and has been around forever - down by BCIT on the south side of hwy one and on the north side by the costco and mc-d's. They have lost so much of their roosting area due to development in the last 10 years that I have been around here. I think it's really really sad. They are fun to watch. Drive around the north side of hwy one in Burnaby at sundown and you'll be amazed at the masses of crows...

                                Here's a related news link that says that it peaks at 32,000 crows roosting in the area in the summer. The article sounds like it's a couple of years old as the roosts they speak of have been destroyed.


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by Tangerine Farmer View Post
                                  While I had always liked crows, when I was a kid we had 2 babies that fell out of the pine in our yard.

                                  That is when they attack. usually they were ok. But if the babies fell into the brush and died, the parents just stayed there divebombing any passerbys. When you are a kid, to have a bird as big as a crow dive bomb you can be quite an experience.


                                  • Original Poster

                                    Donkey - I read that where Costco cleared their roost, they moved a little way over to Still Creek. Fascinating they might be - but they are not very nice, though they mostly scavenge garbage which is considered easy street for them! They come from as far away as the north shore.

                                    We have had one case of WNV in Aldergrove this year. Wonder what next year will produce and if there will be an affect of the crows. They are getting a bit out of hand aren't they?
                                    Proud member of People Who Hate to Kill Wildlife clique


                                    • #19
                                      Foxtrot, that is fascinating. I saw something similar behind our farm ten years ago. It has only happened once since we moved here, but around October, 1998, the woods behind our farm filled with crows...thousands of them. The noise was deafening and they stayed for about two hours, then lifted off in one smooth arc. I am such a Jane Hathaway bird watching nerd...last week I got so excited I had to pull over to get a better look at 25 turkey vultures swirling around on an updraft.


                                      • #20
                                        We don't get large murders building up here. But I do have a cell tower next door to my property and I have 3 full time resident crows and 2 others who come and go. Crows are *smart* as hell and fun to watch. My 3 wait every morning for me to come out of the house for barn chores...the minute my basement door opens all three start making a laughing noise (I look really bad in the morning and I think they actually are laughing at me, the bass turds, LOL) and then will circle over me as I walk to the barn making noise. They bathe in my Nelson waterer, steal everything they can get their beaks on and generally amuse the heck out of me when they tease the squirrels or Gwen or Morticia. I can watch them for hours when they're on the cell tower...one will have something and the others try knocking it off the tower...then they all circles until the one with something stolen (usually a nut or stick and many times a ball of tinfoil, they LOVE shiny stuff) drops it, another grabs it midflight and they all land again until the other two start trying to knock the new owner of the toy off the tower again.
                                        They also like to hop behind me when I'm mowing waiting for frogs and toads that accidentally get hit with the mower blades.

                                        To see just how smart crows are...watch this video. The crow can figure out that it needs to bend the wire to get the little bucket of goodies out of the glass:

                                        And this one...the crows learned to not only use cars to break open nuts...they've learned to do this at pedestrian crossings so that after the nut is run over, they wait for the "walk" sign to stop traffic so they can go eat the nut:
                                        You jump in the saddle,
                                        Hold onto the bridle!
                                        Jump in the line!