Visit of 15,000 crows to Lawrence fascinates researchers, bird enthusiasts
by Terry Date, Eagle Tribune
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 "leap frogging" 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, says Craig Gibson, a Roman Catholic chaplain at Lawrence General Hospital and dedicated crow watcher.
In late fall, the birds start migrating here.
Before daybreak they take wing with a few friends and explore locations within about a 20-mile radius.
At sunset they return to Lawrence.
This natural phenomenon of crows roosting in cities for the winter plays out across the country.