Crow experts think big communal roosts provide warmth, protection from predators, shared knowledge about food sources, and a chance to find a mate. Follow crows to their roost some autumn evening, if you can, and watch these avian acrobats wheel in for the night.
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The Crows’ Night Roost
Written by Ellen Blackstone
This is BirdNote.
[Cawing of American Crows]
American Crows stream by overhead in the late afternoon, rivers of crows. These are crows on a mission. They’re headed to their night roost, a giant avian slumber party.
Gathering in a park or woodland, they land in a tree, then scuffle and shuffle and squawk, filtering down through the branches. Birds arriving late force the early birds lower into the trees. Crow experts think the roost may provide benefits like warmth, protection from predators, shared information about food sources, and a chance to find a mate. [Chortles and warbles of the American Crow]
Immature crows may spend the night in the roost year round, but adults of breeding age stay in their own nests while raising their young, then go back to the group after the fledglings leave. [Huge flock of crows builds]
So, just how many crows are there in a roost? That varies, but at one long-time roost in Danville, Illinois, locals have counted more than 100,000 crows! Not that the folks of Danville are especially happy about that. Imagine the ruckus when the first few thousand crows leave in the morning, about an hour before sunrise. [Huge flock of crows]
Follow crows to their roost some autumn evening, if you can, and watch these avian acrobats wheel in for the night. But if you go, just a word of warning: you might want to take an umbrella.
[Cawing of crows]
For BirdNote.org. I’m Ashley Ahearn.
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Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Sallie Bodie
Managing Producer: Jason Saul
Editor: Ashley Ahearn
Associate Producer: Ellen Blackstone
Assistant Producer: Mark Bramhill
Narrator: Ashley Ahearn
Bird sounds provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Call of the single American Crow recorded by G.A. Keller. Flock of roosting American Crows recorded at Foster Island, Seattle, by Martyn Stewart, Naturesound.org. Ambient crow track recorded by C. Peterson.
BirdNote’s theme was composed and played by Nancy Rumbel and John Kessler.
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ID# roost-02c-2021-10-30 roost-02c