Why do hundreds of crows gather in the trees at Southwest 5th Avenue and Salmon Street around 7 every morning? Their sound is deafening, and pedestrians have to dodge their droppings. What attracts so many crows to this spot? 

—Hitchcock Fan

Henry Ward Beecher once said, "If you dressed men in feathers and wings, few of them would have the cleverness to be crows." What an ass-hole that guy was.

Anyway, congratulations: Your favorite downtown location has become a crows' roost.

In the wintertime, crows like to intimidate humanity by converging in vast numbers each night to roost—i.e., to sleep, socialize and try to evolve the hive-mind superintelligence that will enable them to wipe us from the planet for good.

Around dawn, the crows wake up and, like most folks, want to shoot the breeze with their buddies for a while before heading out for a hard day of eating roadkill and crapping on stuff. This morning check-in creates the commotion you've observed.

You should consider yourself lucky—some roosts number in the tens of thousands and really make an unholy mess, like the Rainbow Gathering if hippies could fly.

But why do crows, which are theoretically wildlife, insist on doing this in the heart of the city, rather than out in the countryside where sturdy farmer types with less of a hangover than you might know how to deal with their shenanigans?  

One possibility is that crows (who, as noted above, are at least as smart as some dude in a feathered suit) have figured out that, unlike those farmer types, we wussified city folk basically never shoot guns at them. Another theory is that crows actually like the city lights, which help them to spot predatory owls—not to mention allowing them to sit up late reading “To Serve Man.” 

QUESTIONS? Send them to dr.know@wweek.com