You can tell the time of day by the activity of the crows that live in the neighborhood. At dawn, you'll hear them cawing as they head out to the county to feed, and at dusk, they call out as they gather in the CWE for the night, see above.
One evening when I was out taking photographs of the holiday windows, I found myself marveling at the noise and sight of so many landing in the trees on Maryland Avenue. Someone stopped to watch them alongside me and said: "Lots of people complain about the crows, but I rather like them." It was around this same time that I noticed many people searching out the posts that I've written on this subject, so I thought I would fill you in on what I've learned since.
I first contacted CWEnder Martin Schweig, my go-to expert on birds, about the prevalence of crows in the CWE in 2010. This is what he said then:
"In the fall, after the nesting and raising of their young is over, crows start gathering in increasingly large flocks. This social behavior seems to have great survival value over trying to make it alone. During the daylight hours the flocks seem to disperse to the city outskirts (Ladue, Chesterfield etc.) to feed and then in the evening they return to the city where there are lots of tall trees and it is warmer. (Here they also unload their meals from earlier in the day). There is a lot more light in the city so they can move about all evening long. They do not seem to need 8 hours of sleep every night. In the early spring, they start to pair off, look for nesting sites and abandon the flocks."
Not long ago I observed three separate flocks (or murders) heading into the neighborhood from Forest Park. The first group flew toward the northern reaches of the neighborhood, the second to the middle (over Maryland Plaza), and the third to the south.
When I was headed back to the CWE late one afternoon, I observed a large number of crows flying into the park, so I decided to follow them. They were landing in the trees on the golf course near the Jewel Box, above, and gathering on the baseball field adjacent to Hwy 64/40, below.
I contacted Martin once again about what appears to be an increase in the crow population, and this is what he replied;
"Yes, the crow population has increased in the last few years. The CWE seems to be a popular place to gather because the area is well lighted, has large trees and tall buildings. Lighting is a large factor. It gives these birds more time in the evening to move about, socialize and form large flocks. Another factor is that it is slightly warmer in this area because all of the buildings give off heat. I think, however, that most of the population of crows move on later in the evening to Forest Park or similar areas where there are more roosting places, less noise and probably a greater feeling of security."
I hope this helps explain what our noisy neighbors are up to, and that you might find it a little bit fascinating yourself.
In addition to contributing to a more vibrant neighborhood, shopping and dining locally reaps other rewards you may not be aware of. The 1% additional tax that is added to your bill in the CWE North Business District is plowed right back in for improvements that benefit the entire neighborhood.
CWEnder Steve Neels has had plenty of opportunities to get his Artic Cat out of the garage this winter. He's been hired by the CWE North Community Improvement District to clear snow from sidewalks in the commercial district from Maryland Plaza to Washington Avenue.
The holiday decorations throughout the district are another example of your sales tax dollars at work. The neighborhood's Bowood Farms is responsible for the lovely installations in the planting areas from Lindell to McPherson, as well as the many pots they've filled with white birch and red twigged dogwood, above. The Winged Griffins (second photo) and other light standards, as well as the lighted trees and many of the wreaths, roping and bows seen throughout the neighborhood were decorated for the holidays by CWEnder Jim Espy of The Trogolo Company.
January is traditionally a slow time of year in both retail and the restaurant business, so continue to do your part to support the businesses and perhaps together we can buck that trend!
Cathedral Concerts Series Sat. 3/15 8:00 p.m. Stile Antico, Tues. 4/8 8:00 p.m. St. Louis Symphony & Chorus, Fri. 5/2 8:00 p.m. Alleluia Ringers, (314) 533-7662, 4431 Lindell.
Nathalie's Thurs. 6 to 9 p.m., Dave Black, jazz standards, rock, r & b, 4356 Lindell.
Evangeline's Bistro & Music House 6 p.m.Thurs. Stuart Johnson, 7 p.m. Fri. Billy Barnett & Sat. Water Taxi, 7 p.m. Mon. Park Avenue Trio, Weds., Open Mic Night, 6:30 Thurs. 3/20, Tom Byrne, 512 N. Euclid.
Happening later or continuing
"Intimate" opens at Atrium Gallery Fri. 3/21 6-8 p.m, featuring small works by Claudia deMonte, Julia Fernandez-Pol, Michael Marshall, Annette Morriss, Steve Sorman, Katy Stone, Elizabeth Thatch, until May 10, 4814 Washington.