Signs & Portents

Vast Murders of Crows Are Routinely Swarming above Downtown Portland

Surely it means nothing. Nothing.

By Zach Dundas December 12, 2017

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Image: Amy Martin

Portland has an unusually deep civic relationship with avian behavior. Thousands of humans gravitate to a school in Northwest Portland every September for a whimsical picnic centered on a flock of Vaux swifts. The Audubon Society’s headquarters near Forest Park are a recognized weekend destination. And this is very likely the only city in the country where “I saw a blue heron today!” is a viable conversation starter and/or pickup line.

We like birds. But this … do we like this?


this happens every night

A post shared by Amy Martin (@amykm75) on

Right now, this is happening every evening, right around Miller Time: swirling fleets of cacophonous crows, blizzarding the skies above the city’s central business district, causing the downtrodden commuters below to look up and consider. Is it a sign? A portent?

Fortunately, the world at large is super-chill and not at all locked in a pre-apocalyptic fugue state. If that were the case, man. This kind of thing would send a shiver, y’know? As it is, on our bright and hopeful timeline, we can just appreciate the mysteries of corvid behavior—which our sister publication in Seattle plumbed in fantastic longread-ish depth. Enjoy! Everything is going to be fine.

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