'Black Cloud' of Roosting Crows Haunts Pennsylvania Street For Over A Month

Crows Swarming Pennsylvania Street
Flocks of ravens from northern Poland and Russia arrive in the southern Czech town of Zidlochovice on November 27, 2013. The birds are migrating to avoid the colder weather during the winter further north before returning in mid-March. RADEK MICA/AFP/Getty Images

Every dusk for the past month a dark and wide cloud whooshes into east Allentown, Pennsylvania and swallows the trees on Congress Street.

This cloud is a flock of crows who have been jostling the quaint, residential block. "It's scary more than anything when you see them come flying at you a couple thousand at a time," Dave Cardona, who is spending his last day as the supervisor at the 548-unit complex Congress Apartments after 38 years told Newsweek. "You look up into the sky and you see a black cloud coming toward you, getting closer and closer.

"Really nothing like it."

The dropping temperatures and the strength in numbers explain the seemingly endless span of the crow cloud.

"They gather in these huge flocks and they'll go out and feed in smaller groups," Muhlenberg College ornithologist Peter Saenger, who is also president of the Lehigh Valley Audubon Society, said in an interview with Newsweek.

Birding communities dub such clouds a "murder" of crows, according to The Morning Call, which first reported the phenomenon.

As many as 35,000 Corvid crows can take flight at once blanketing a 10-mile diameter to find a peaceful place to perch dodging predators as night sets in, Saenger said.

The trick is to remain stealthy and prevent being gobbled by their nemesis: the great horned owl, known in bird circles as "tigers in the air."

Saenger explained that in daylight the crows are to be feared.

"If they see a great horned owl perched, a pool of them will mob it in numbers to drive it away," he said. "At night the tables are turned."

And he added that they are also "incredibly intelligent," which may be why they are so focused on coming and going to Congress Street for so many weeks.

"They're related to ravens and scientific studies found that [corvids] can actually remember peoples' faces, and remember them for years," said Saenger.

Cardona believes the winged interlopers take flight at first light and return almost like clockwork at around 4:30 p.m. every day.

Their favored spot is to squat the branches by the apartment complex where the nearby woods offers abundant critter dinners.

But they quickly wore out their welcome.

At least a dozen tenants were forced to abandon their parking places after the crows' storm of droppings.

"Some people decided to stop parking their cars at 12 spots," Cardona said.

The incident parallels Alfred Hitchcock's 1963 movie "The Birds" in which almost every turn in California's Bodega Bay was attacked by flocks from the skies.

Cardona, who's better known by his sobriquet "Congressman Dave" reflected on how quickly the crows forced themselves into daily cast members in the neighborhood to make for a real-life movie. The fear has dwindled some, but he said many tenants still talk "about Alfred Hitchcock and "The Birds."

"I've never, never seen anything like this in all my time here."

One way to evict them, though Saenger doesn't advocate for it, is to cause a bit of a human ruckus by making loud noises before they settle for the evening.

"If people get tired about it and disturb them, they will find another place to rest."