Saturday, 17 January 2015

Holy Crow!

Waterloo, ON
17 January 2015

     I have talked about, in previous posts, the phenomenon of the huge roosts of American Crow Corvus brachyrynchos in downtown Waterloo. It really is one of the great spectacles of nature - and I have seen many around the world.
     This afternoon, as the sun was sinking in the western sky, Miriam and I decided to go and immerse ourselves in the event.

Setting sun from Seagram Drive
     Most of the crows roost in Waterloo Park, but a good initial vantage point to see them start to flood the downtown area is Seagram Drive, essentially a right of way to the University of Waterloo. We parked in a student parking lot and started to watch the sky as the first groups of crows arrived.  


     It really is an amazing sight as the numbers swell and the sound of so many crows cawing is an atmospheric experience all of its own. We were quite awestruck as the passage of birds across the sky swelled with every minute.
     A skein of Canada Geese Branta canadensis proved no less inspirational as they winged their way across the waning daylight of a late January afternoon.

     We then moved on to Waterloo Park, mere wing flaps away as a crow flies, where the birds were settling in for the night in earnest. Wave after wave of birds moved and descended onto the trees. Certain trees filled first before any birds occupied other trees, leaving us to wonder whether those trees had advantages perhaps not readily apparent to us.

     The noise of so many birds was at once both ear splitting and captivating. Miriam and I were both enthralled by it, and from time to time the birds would lift from the trees in unison, all cawing at high decibel, only to alight again as though nothing had happened. What cue caused them to act in such a manner remains unknown to us.

     As the sun sank lower and lower towards the horizon, the palette of colours shifted and changed with many an interesting sky showing for only the briefest of moments.

     It was an etheral experience which neither one of us will soon forget and we are determined to repeat it.
     The common name for an assemblage of crows is a murder; in our household, with no apology to the goldfinches, it will henceforth be called a charm.


  1. Amazing! I'm sure that lots of people don't appreciate this as much as you do!

  2. It seems as if European starling evening flights have a rival in your area!

  3. Here in my hometown we have this phenomenan as well. Near the river The Maas, are some large trees where these crows are gathering and spend the night. I can hear and see them from my house.

  4. Hello David,
    What lots of crows together, it looks like a cloud of starlings.
    Photo 1, 3, 4 and 11 I find really great.
    Have a nice Sunday.
    Best regards, Irma

  5. Beautiful pictures, David. Spectacular to watch. In the Netherlands we see flocks of starlings,
    sometimes 60.000 or more. Watch some videos on youtube: keyword Spreewendans.
    Gr Jan W

  6. Hello David,
    Great shots!! Your first is so special with that sky.
    Sometimes it's amazing to see so much birds.

    Best regards,

  7. Awesome series on the crow.. I have seen similar scenes with the large flocks of crows.. Or is it a murder of crows? Have a great day!

  8. Very impressive, David!
    We had the same thing a few days ago around the house: tens of crows were flying and shouting like crazy, Patrick was sure he was seeing wild pigeons!!!!
    But that was it, we didn't see them again!
    Keep well, hugs to the both of you :)

  9. that would have been quite amazing to witness, i would have loved it!!!
    thanks for sharing.

  10. The aerial photos are great with those beautiful colors. The crows in the tree make a loud noise and I can know that. For my home I have 4 trees where the overnight chew:-)

  11. Beautiful pics. The 'trilogy' is so great! Birds, they are so special!

    Have a nice Sunday time. Hope the weather is great to get some new shots.