NORTH ADAMS -- The large black cloud of crows circulating over the city's Main Street on an almost nightly basis isn't a matter for concern, according to a spokeswoman for the state Division of Fish and Wildlife.
The congregation of several murders of crows has been compared to scenes from Alfred Hitchcock's "The Birds" film, in which large flocks of the birds come together en masse before attacking the film's stars.
"It's actually normal behavior for crows this time of year," said Marion Larson, chief information and education officer for the state Division of Fish and Wildlife on Monday. "Crows tend to roost in large flocks during the winter months. They start to congregate at sunset and start moving towards the colony's roost. This can also be seen around sunrise as well."
Several other species of birds can also be seen flocking together around this time of year, including blackbirds, starlings and grackles, she said.
"It's not uncommon to see crows doing this," Larson said. "In Framingham, near Shoppers World Plaza, there are thousands of crows roosting together. We're also aware of hundreds of crows roosting at American International College in Springfield."
According to the University of Cornell website, a roost in Fort Cobb, Okla., was estimated to host more than 2 million crows in 1972.
The congregation in the city has only been estimated to include about 100 crows, but the flock's visibility has drawn the attention of local shoppers and business owners on Main Street.
"As the warmer months and breeding season approaches, we see these roosts break up as the crows tend to pair off and move into more family groups," Larson said.
While there are numerous hypotheses surrounding why birds, such as crows, will roost together during the winter months, Larson said the most likely reason is safety.
"There's safety in numbers," she said. "The flocks are more exposed, as the majority of our trees no longer have leaves at this time of year. For some animals and birds, there are behaviors like this that we observe and see change seasonally. A good example is the wild turkey. In the winter, we see them in larger flocks, but as the weather gets warmer, we see these groups separate. By the summer, the females are out in flocks by themselves and the males are out in what we call ‘bachelor' groups. But by the fall, these groups have found their way back to each other. It's just a part of the nature of that particular bird."
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