American Crow Corvus brachyrynchos
Night time roosts
In the City of Waterloo and a few surrounding areas there are major night time winter roosts of American Crows and it is a wonderful sight to see countless streams of birds flying into their favourite roosting trees to settle in for the night. Shining a flashlight into one of the trees at night reveals hundreds of birds occupying every branch.
I recently came across a poem by Howard Nelson, the final stanza of which captures this phenomenon so beautifully.
Around four o'clock or so they begin to drift in.
The couple walking in the cemetery
where the stones flow from other centuries along the hills
notice how the silence gives way
to a few caws, and then more and more coast in
from somewhere, a steady, uneven stream
and a raucous chorus gathers in the trees.
The man sitting in the dentist chair
waiting for the dentist to appear, stares out the window
and sees the crows riding the air
descending onto the trees across the street,
a haunting sight he hadn't expected here.
And someone driving west through town is amazed
at the swirl of the flock across the winter sky,
hundreds, thousands, of black flecks across clouds
stirred with cold blazing light.
Wow, a natural wonder, he thinks,
the most beautiful thing he's ever seen in this city,
or maybe anywhere, and feels
it's a piece of luck to have crows in your city,
something to be grateful for,
to share the wintry earth with crows.