Off to Work!

Like a number of urban centers, Rochester, NY has a crow issue.

No, not some problem with bragging. There cannot be enough of that, apparently.

Instead, a rather substantial number of the black birds – a “murder” they’re called – choose to roost in the city’s urban forest.

Nightly, beginning at just about dusk, the crew flaps in. They’ve selected a downtown park as their favorite overnight venue.

Numbering 20-30,000, it’s not an insignificant grouping. Nor one willing to be ignored.

As one might imagine – or maybe one dares not to imagine – this creates quite a mess. The wingers seem to pretty much save it up all day, only to deposit it all – on sidewalks, benches, cars – overnight. Seeming, at once.

Various attempts to unsettle the murder (hmm) have thus far proved unsuccessful. Neither spot/strobe/laser lights nor recordings of crow distress calls have worked to deter roosting.

One wonders if good ole head-banger rock ‘n’ roll has been tried.

In Auburn, NY, an hour drive east of Rochester, citizens there likewise suffer an annual crow invasion.

But, doubtless because Auburn is also home to one of the oldest (and, when first built in the early 19th century, one of the most progressive) high security prisons, hosting another murder, albeit one numbering 50-70,000, is either more tolerable or less unexpected.

Easy for me to write. From the relative comfort of Rochester. And for citizens at either locality, figuring out which is worse-off may be a little like trying to tell the difference between pedal pushers and clam diggers.

The magnetic draw for crows seems to be either something to do with the amount of artificial light produced by cities or the warmth they generate. Lighting helps the birds spot predators. Warmth, well, we know the reason for that.

Each morning, much like suburban commuters, the ambitious Rochester group takes flight nearly as one. Leaving the bright, warm comfort of the urban environment, they head south toward the farmlands surrounding Rochester.

Heading north would probably be pointless as it is a long journey across Lake Ontario to Canada. Where geese rule. And then there’s the currency exchange rate to deal with. And passports.

And, while the crows appear to be at least somewhat industrious (by going off to work, leather lunchpails clutched in their claws), a new avian threat to western New York was recently reported: indolent mute swans.

It’s always something.

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