Murder of crows
Our campus (and the rest of our town) is annual winter home to an enormous murder of crows, which fill the tops of hundreds of trees at night. In this early-evening picture, the crows are still arriving and will continue to arrive for another ten minutes or so. Airborne crows do not appear in the picture because the shutter was open for about two seconds.
They are very interesting creatures. Crows obviously prefer the company of other crows, yet unlike most social birds they are relatively autonomous in flight. They’re very intelligent birds, and can make an astonishing variety of sounds; some quite human. They appear to be omnivorous, and despite taking quite a lot of their diet from the streets (in the form of squirrels who, it seems, will never learn), are seldom hit by cars. After a hard day of doing whatever it is crows do, they return to town in a long, chaotic stream over a hundred feet wide and stretching a mile or so into the evening sky, roosting on trees 70 to 125 feet high.
But as interesting as they are, crows are not good neighbors. They’re not… toilet trained, and a crow is a lot bigger than a pigeon. Their droppings pile up under trees like this one. City and campus workers can be seen out on nice winter days with pressure washers, cleaning off sidewalks but nothing hides the stench, and bird droppings are a real health hazard as they can result in serious lung infections.
Ideally, the word “murder” should be pronounced in the deep, melifluous voice of The Simpson’s “Sideshow Bob” (AKA, Bob Terwilliger: “Muurrrder of crows”.