I have little to add and nothing to correct in Dave' nice summary.  Crows in 
and around Ithaca usually choose among several modest roosts (500-5,000 crows). 
 Some years the main Ithaca roost is hardly noticeable, and in others it's in 
your face.  The crows typically stage on the Cornell and Ithaca Country Club 
golf courses before heading to the main roost.  Exactly where the final roost 
is changes between and within seasons.  I have not been downtown in the 
evening, and I do not know where the final roost is at this time.

Kevin J. McGowan, Ph.D.
Home Study Course in Bird Biology
Cornell Lab of Ornithology
159 Sapsucker Woods Road
Ithaca, NY 14850

From: bounce-7531176-3493...@list.cornell.edu 
[mailto:bounce-7531176-3493...@list.cornell.edu] On Behalf Of Dave Nutter
Sent: Thursday, December 16, 2010 7:27 AM
To: cayugabirds-l@cornell.edu
Subject: Re: [cayugabirds-l] Crows?

Crows are very social animals.  They live in family groups during the breeding 
with a multi-year learning period, and young birds raised the previous year 
often help
their parents to raise their younger siblings.  In the non-breeding season 
crows gather into
massive roosting congregations in the late afternoon.  In recent years these 
roosts have
been much more conspicuous to people as the birds have chosen urban areas with 
trees.  In the morning they commute to farm fields to search for waste corn or 
to dumps
(or the Cornell food services composting facility) for waste food.  Toward 
March and the
onset of breeding season the roost breaks up and the birds return to their 
family territories.
I think some local birds here retain residency in their territories during 
winter as well.  Those
winter roosts are amazing, just to consider all the biomass, and the area over 
which they
must be feeding.  Their socializing is noisy and active before and after their 
actual sleeping
time and includes areas outside the actual roost.  They are harmless, of 
course, but people
whose knowledge of biology extends only to Alfred Hitchcock movies may be 
And people whose possessions are underneath roost trees with hundreds of birds 
will be
understandably unhappy with the birds' defecation.  I like to watch the flocks' 
swirling flight.
Kevin McGowan has been studying crows in this area for years, and I hope he 
will expand
upon (and if necessary correct) this post.  His project is responsible for the 
crows with
various colored wing tags, each color representing a different year.  Most 
crows are tagged
in the nest before they are old enough to leave.  Each bird's tags has a 
2-digit code, and
if you tell Kevin which bird you have seen when and where, he may return the 
favor with
a brief life history of that individual.
--Dave Nutter

On Dec 15, 2010, at 07:05 PM, Andrew Roe <andrew.walker....@gmail.com> wrote:
This is only my second winter in Ithaca (I'm a grad student, here from the 
southeast) so I don't really know how normal this is- but there seem to be an 
ENORMOUS number of crows around downtown Ithaca and Cornell- swirling at dusk, 
covering roofs, nearly toppling trees, blotting out the sun, etc.

Can someone in the know let me know what's going on? Are these all birds 
passing through, or is there some sort of monumental attack on the Lab of O in 
the works?




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