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Why Do Crows Gather in Large Numbers? 5 Reasons for This Behavior

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group on crow on top of tree

Crows are fascinating animals. They are beautiful while flying in the sky, yet they also tend to seem ominous. Crows have been featured in thriller and horror movies for decades. Crows are even known to attack humans that are seemingly minding their own business. However, human attacks are not common, so there is no reason to be afraid when you see crows. It is the crows that you cannot see that you should be concerned about.

Seeing a big flock of crows hanging out together at the same time can be at least mildly intimidating, whether they are a threat or not. Why do crows gather in large numbers? Is it just to intimidate us humans, or is there something more to it? It turns out that there are several reasons that crows might gather in large numbers. Here’s what you should know.

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The 5 Reasons Why Crows Gather in Large Numbers

1. They Are Roosting

One of the biggest reasons that crows gather in large numbers is to roost. Roosting is the act of resting, which usually happens when the sun is down. This is the time when a bird wants to sleep without having to worry about predators or other dangers. Crows tend to roost in large numbers because it makes them safer to do so.

When a large number of crows are gathered, the chance of identifying a threat is optimized. Roosting crows tend to sit high in the tops of trees where they may or may not be seen. They may caw for a while before they start resting to let other crows know where they are located. Some roosting packs can be made up of dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of crows at any given time.

Crow birds resting
Image Credit: Pixabay

2. They Are Grieving

Crows are intelligent creatures, so it should not be a surprise to know that they gather in large numbers when one of them succumbs to death. Researchers believe that these animals do this to assess danger in the area. Some researchers have even discovered that crows will sometimes engage in necrophilia with their dead. While it may seem like these birds are grieving when they gather around a dead flock member, the feelings of the birds are likely more about the concern of safety than anything.

A flock of crows on the ground
Image Credit: Derks, Pixabay

3. They Sense Danger

Another reason crows may gather in large numbers is that danger is lurking. Crows may spot a predator and call out to each other so they can find one another and come together in a group. Doing so makes them less desirable to a predator and increases their chance of keeping the predator at bay. A large flock of crows making noise is enough to scare off any predators that might be in the area.

Flock of crows on the ground in field
Image Credit: Piqsels

4. They Need to Get Warm

Like any other animal, crows can get cold depending on what time of year it happens to be. When the weather outside gets chilly, they get together to create extra warmth and enhance their quality of life. They usually position themselves directly next to one another. They might sit in lines or around each other, depending on where they are gathering.

Crows perching on wire
Image Credit: Piqsels

5. They Are Traveling Together

Crows like to travel together, so it makes sense that they would take breaks together. You might see a group of crows suddenly settle on a power line or in a tree for a few minutes, then take off together in flight again. This is probably because they are traveling to a faraway place and needed to rest or gather their bearings before moving on. Crows can travel long distances without resting, so traveling is one of the less common reasons that you might see crows gather in large numbers.

Flock of crows flying
Image Credit: Piqsels

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Crows are super smart and can recognize human faces. They can even hold grudges and tell fellow flock members about us if we treat them poorly. So, it is not surprising that there would be multiple reasons for them to gather in large numbers. However, the reasons for their gatherings can be surprising, especially when it comes to dealing with their dead. Have you seen any crows gathering in large numbers lately, and if so, were there any clues as to why the activity was happening?

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Featured Image Credit: Elliotte Rusty Harold, Shutterstock

About the Author Robert Sparks

Robert’s obsession with all things optical started early in life, when his optician father would bring home prototypes for Robert to play with. Nowadays, Robert is dedicated to helping others find the right optics for their needs. His hobbies include astronomy, astrophysics, and model building. Originally from Newark, NJ, he resides in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where the nighttime skies are filled with glittering stars.