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Seeing murders of crows? That’s normal during Missouri winters

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ST. LOUIS – Now that winter has really settled in, you might have noticed a large flock of birds congregating downtown; this is a natural occurrence in the winter. Crows are not migratory birds and will hunker down in groups during the cold months.

In a Reddit post, the user was curious about a large group of birds in downtown St. Louis in the early mornings. The answer is simple: it’s just crows visiting their family during the winter months.

American crows are black and may have a purplish sheen on the highlights of the plumage. they have a long heavy bill and the tail is rounded at the tip. They make sounds such as the famous “caw caw” call.

“Crows tend to roost in large numbers in the winter. Especially during the cold months; massing together may help to maximize their body heat and offer some protection from the cold.  If you see a few crows, there are likely many more nearby. So, it’s not uncommon to find them in large and concentrated numbers,” said Dan Zarlenga with the Missouri Department of Conservation.


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Even though this phenomenon might look like something out of Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘The Birds,’ Zarlenga assured that the crows you see around St. Louis are probably of the same family and are doing traditionally what their flocks have been doing for generations.

“Crows are also very smart, long-lived, familial, and non-migratory. These traits mean that they get into habits just like we do and pass those habits down to their young. Likely, some family groups that established in that area and then their young also congregate there and the habit is passed along,” said Zarlenga. “And since they don’t migrate, they will use those areas throughout the year.  One example being Keiner Plaza and the federal courthouse being Corvid (crow) heritage sites.” 

Crows are smart birds; there are videos on YouTube of crows throwing away garbage. Crows can be ‘trained’ to bring trinkets to you, and by rewarding them with a treat. There are crow boxes where crows can put coins in a box and get a peanut.

Recently, videos on popular media websites show people using a machine to train crows to pick up trash and rewarding them with a treat. Crows are illegal to keep as pets in every state.

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