by Dugan Arnett, The Boston Globe
They arrive, every evening, by the thousands, descending upon a quiet stretch of riverbank near a noisy highway overpass.
Crows resting on tree branches. Crows circling high above the Merrimack River. Crows relieving themselves on the footpaths near the water.
It is like something Alfred Hitchcock would’ve dreamed up, some residents say, except that it is real and — as those who have stumbled upon the birds’ bizarre nightly roosting ritual can attest — somehow even stranger than it sounds.
“You can’t explain it,” says Craig Gibson, a Catholic chaplain at Lawrence General Hospital and regular observer of the crows’ behavior. “You just gotta see it.”
Crows have been flocking to the city of Lawrence for years. Some residents say it’s been 20 years. Others are certain they saw clusters of them as far back as 75 years ago, stalking nearby cornfields on winter afternoons.
But as their prominence has grown in recent years — estimates put the current Lawrence roost at around 20,000 strong — the phenomenon has become impossible to ignore, capturing the attention of previously unaware residents and befuddling nearby business owners along the Merrimack.