Words On Birds by Steve Grinley
Lawrence Crow Roost Continue to Awe Visitors
January 23, 2021
By Steve Grinley
The annual winter crow roost phenomenon is happening again this year in Lawrence. Crows numbering in the thousands can be seen coming in from all directions to roost along the Merrimack River. Dana Duxbury-Fox and Bob Fox of North Andover, together with Craig Gibson have been monitoring these birds for years. Dana posted the following report recently:
“We were out on Monday evening with four other ladies. We started in the New Balance parking lot. The crows started to come in singly and head over the 202 building (the brick building on the east side of South Union St.) We decided to go to the top of the parking garage and found that they were staging in the treetops far to the east south east – many in North Andover.
“Later vast flocks came in from the east, southeast and then those from the west. Northwest and Southwest flocks too joined them with not many in the O’Connell Common trees. After sunset they began to swirl in large flocks flying towards the clock tower and then around and around. We went down to the street and looked up. Many, many different swirling flocks each flock of maybe a thousand birds. – over Merrimack St., over South Union St.
“It is now quite dark and some start to settle down on the flat roof of the R&D building. Bob and the ladies went back up to the top of the garage. I walked back to the car and saw some trickling into the roost while they still had 15,000+ on the roof. No way you could count them systematically!
“Last night we went therewith Bob Quinn from New Hampshire. Again, the early single birds trickled over to North Andover. We even tried to find them in North Andover.
“Back to the garage. Small numbers heading east south east, then the migrant flocks from the east and south east. The western birds were visible far to the west, some in trees; many landing on what we think was the ice, not coming towards us though.
“After sunset, the birds from the west came towards us in vast flocks heading towards the commons. The Southeast birds moved towards the commons. Pure mayhem followed as thousands of birds in so many different flocks circled around – some going all the way to the north side of the river beyond Rt. 28.
“Later under darkness you could see a few settling down in the roost going way up towards the Casey Bridge but most still in the air. Then thousands dropped onto the far R&D roof and stayed there until we left at 5:10 pm.
“Again, no way to systematically count them as we had on December 19th. Bob Quinn and Bob Fox BOTH estimated there were OVER 20,000 BIRDS! A few Fish Crows were heard flying over in one flock, none identified while they were sitting.
“Do plan to visit the roost by the end of February before the birds begin to head north or stay on their nesting territory.”
Let Dana and Bob know if you would like to get directions or have a guided tour. You may contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org.