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Something to crow about: Visit of 15,000 birds each winter fascinates researchers, enthusiasts

by Terry Date, Newburyport News

So many crows. So many questions.

It’s a bone-chilling sunset in January, and 15 men and women, their boots anchored to the snow-covered riverbank, are taking in a spectacle.

They watch 15,000 cawing crows breaking into smaller groups and “leapfrogging” among trees.

Why this knocking around in cliques before settling in for the night — all together — at a final roosting spot along the Merrimack River?

Christian Rutz, a biology professor visiting from St. Andrews University in Scotland, wonders about this.

And why do the Lawrence crows, on occasion, switch to a new overnight roosting spot?

And, more broadly, what brings the crows here?

The Lawrence winter roost has been going on for decades, back to the 1980s, said Craig Gibson, a Roman Catholic chaplain at Lawrence General Hospital and dedicated crow watcher.


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