Where Do Those Crows Go Each Night?

Vancouver Magazine - - City - Stacey McLach­lan by By­ron Eggen­schwiler il­lus­tra­tion by

If you don’t thInk that Van­cou­ver is the mur­der cap­i­tal of North Amer­ica, you haven’t been pay­ing at­ten­tion. Be­cause as dusk falls each night, the sky fills with screams… of thou­sands of crows, on their way home to roost.

Lis­ten, Iun­der­stand that us­ing the word “mur­der” just now to de­scribe a group of Van­cou­ver’s favourite feath­ered friends is mislead­ing at best and triv­i­al­izes a dev­as­tat­ing crime at worst, but if abus­ing col­lec­tive an­i­mal nouns is wrong, I don’t want to be right.

Any­way, as I was try­ing to say: it’s a beloved Van­cou­ver pas­time to look up in awe at the star­tling flood of crows that flies east­ward like clock­work come dusk, and a rite of pas­sage to run for cover (be­cause, you know, poop). But where are they go­ing? And why do they never in­vite me?

It turns out, like many of us priced out of the Van­cou­ver real es­tate mar­ket, they’re head­ing to the burbs. Through the fall and win­ter, up to 6,000 crows com­mute 30 to 40 min­utes from their home base by Still Creek in Burn­aby to the big city to do what­ever it is crows do all day. (Eat garbage? Work as ven­ture cap­i­tal­ists?) When the sun be­gins to fade, it’s quit­ting time, and the whole gang meets up to travel home again to their lit­tle piece of crow par­adise near Willing­don Av­enue and High­way 1. Th­ese crit­ters have been con­gre­gat­ing there since the ’70s, liv­ing in a loose so­cial struc­ture that’s kind of hu­manoid—they mate for life and even help raise their lit­tle broth­ers and sis­ters, which gives me an amaz­ing idea for asit­com.

At one point in time, Still Creek was bumpin’ with spawn­ing sal­mon (col­lec­tive noun: a “bind”! Isn’t this fun?!) and de­li­cious in­dus­trial-area trash, which ex­plains why early crow set­tlers set up camp. To­day, the rook­ery has its own Face­book page (Still Creek Rook­ery, of course), though it’s un­clear which of the thou­sands of crows is run­ning it as of press time. I’m hop­ing to get a sleuth on the case… by which I mean a group of bears! Ha! (I can’t stop. Please send help.)

Got aque­s­tion for City In­former? stacey.mclach­[email protected]

Like many of us priced out of the real es­tate mar­ket, they’re head­ing to the burbs.

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