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Volunteers wanted to count Langley ‘crow commute’

Thousands of crows from around the region gather nightly on a South Aldergrove property
A volunteer with the Langley Field Naturalists took this photo of a crow flock of 320 birds during the region’s Christmas Bird Count in South Langley. This flock is part of the larger group that roosts near 256th Street nightly in the winter. (Langley Field Naturalists/Special to the Langley Advance Times).

Birders and nature lovers can help the Langley Environmental Partners Society (LEPS) count some of the thousands of crows that undertake a daily “commute” to a South Aldergrove roost.

The crows come in flocks from all directions around sunset, including from the United States, from Abbotsford, Langley, and “possibly all the way from Surrey,” said Lisa Dreves, stewardship coordinator for LEPS.

They take up residence every evening at a forested area near 16th Avenue and 256th Street.

“In the winter, they come to roost for safety,” said Dreves.

The numbers of crows are significant. Two years ago, LEPS did a count of the crows, and estimated there were up to 37,000 roosting there each night.

The crows head out every morning to find food around the Lower Mainland.

In the spring and summer, they disperse and form pairs to nest and raise chicks, and the migration resumes again in the autumn once the chicks are out of the nest, said Dreves.

The migration to this particular location is thought to have taken place for around 15 years.

READ ALSO: Volunteers carry out Aldergrove cleanup in the pouring rain

Longtime members of the Langley Field Naturalists have been watching the daily commute for some time.

Now LEPS and the LFN are hoping to find a few more volunteers for a bird count that will give an estimate of how many crows are roosting nightly at the spot.

Dreves said the group is looking for volunteers on four days, each time just before sunset.

• Wednesday, Feb. 2 - sunset at 5:09 p.m., in place to begin count by 4:49 p.m.

• Monday, Feb. 7 - sunset at 5:19 p.m., begin count by 4:59 p.m.

• Wednesday, Feb. 9 - sunset at 5:22 p.m., begin count by 5:02 p.m.

• Tuesday, Feb. 15 - sunset at 5:32 p.m., begin count by 5:12 p.m.

Anyone who is interested in volunteering can email Dreves at, at least two days before the session they want to volunteer for.

By positioning the watchers around the roost, and counting across several different nights, the hope is to get a general measure of the number of crows arriving on average. In the long run, keeping track of the number of crows may help as an indication of the overall health of the crow flocks and natural in general.

Dreves noted that crows do pretty well around humans compared to many other birds.

“Crows are a little different than a lot of our birds, because they can live in urban areas,” Dreves noted.

This local crow commute is similar to a better-known one that takes place each evening around Vancouver and Burnaby. That daily migration is highly visible because large parts of it flow over major population centres and routes, including over parts of Highway One.

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Crows from all around Langley, Abbotsford, and south of the border gather on a South Aldergrove roosting site every evening in the winter. (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance Times)

Matthew Claxton

About the Author: Matthew Claxton

Raised in Langley, as a journalist today I focus on local politics, crime and homelessness.
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