Crow Gossip

Just in case you tire of human news, here’s a “celebrity profile” of a different sort.

I’m not sure “who” this up-and-coming power couple are wearing this fall.

Their lives seem to be pretty scandal-free, although you’d have to listen to the roost rumours to be sure of that.

Politically, I’d say they’re pretty apathetic β€” although very vocal on some local issues.

Marvin and Mavis have claimed my garden as their territory this fall. We’re really just starting to get to know each other, but I can already share a few juicy details about the lifestyle of the loud and feathery.

First of all, they’re art fans β€” with a particular fondness for sculptural pieces. Marvin was first wowed by the rusty metal jay bird on the back gate.

Then, he became intrigued by the metal figure on the bird feeder.

He’s so impressed with the whole “birds as art” concept , he’s taken to posing as a crow statue.

Corvid performance art.

It is said that crows can tell each other apart by their calls. Until recently, I thought that the difference must be too subtle for human ears, but Marvin has a particularly guttural caw that I can actually recognize at once.



What gets both Marvin and Mavis really riled up is … cats. This is actually quite handy for me, because they often warn me that the neighbour’s cat is in the garden and lurking under the bird feeder, or by the bird bath. They’re quite pleased with how quickly they’ve trained me to run out of the house, waving my arms and yelling at the evil creature. They also notified me when Edgar, our indoor cat, snuck out during the Halloween preparations. Again, they were gratified to see how promptly the ginger devil was captured and contained.

For Halloween, apart from the usual chocolate bars, I also bought some mini bags of Cheezies. I wanted to save some for after Halloween to test Marvin and Mavis’s junk food susceptibility.

All crows I’ve ever known have had a weakness for these frighteningly orange snacks. I don’t buy them often because (a) I don’t want to fill my crows up with junk food and (b) I can’t resist them either.

I can reliably report that Mavis and Marvin are as weak in the face of Cheezie temptation as the rest of us.

Note that the dog kibble and peanuts have been left for a second trip. Best get the Cheezies while the getting’s good.


Well, that’s about it for the latest hot crow gossip around here. Stay tuned for the next instalment. Perhaps fashion and beauty tips …

Marvin and Mavis, captured in a candid moment by the relentless paparazzi.


A whole year’s worth of corvid rumour and gossip in the City Crow Calendar.

Marvin is the model in this newest miniature crow pendant.

11 thoughts on “Crow Gossip

  1. Hi June – I just love your crows. My Dad is 90 and he and I are both big crow fans. Up until a year ago he lived on a farm near Kemptville Ontario. A friend’s daughter volunteering at a local wild bird care centre asked Dad if she could release 3 rescued young crows on his farm and Dad was thrilled! He called them “Eanie, Meanie, and Miney…and no Moe!”

    I’ll be ordering your calendar for him πŸ™‚

  2. Marvin does sounds a few notes more guttural bass than I hear, and I’m tickled that you recorded him πŸ™‚
    You do capture their inquisitiveness and playfulness…

  3. Well that was far more interesting to read and watch than any television news or newspaper! I love the little videos. I thought about playing it out by the gum trees where our resident crows sit!! I wonder what they would think of that. Great photos as always. I can’t wait for January so I can start on the month by month flip over of my City Crows Calendar. I’ve been absolutely loving your autumn photos, it’s my favourite time of year.
    Love from Lisa in Australia πŸ’–

  4. Great to see enthusiasm, and careful observations of crows. I feel I must point out something important about either Marvin or Mavis, though. If you look at the top picture of the duo, the one on the left side of the photo has its mouth partly open…revealing a nice PINK mouth, pink out to the corners. Such a mouth is only seen on juvenile crows of the year, ie. those which are currently about 7 months from hatching here in Ithaca-area NY. By late next spring, it will probably be blackish except around the tongue and back of the throat, although the speed of that process seems to be variable. You should be able to see a difference in the shape of the ends of the tail feathers also–the younger bird should have more pointed “lance-shaped” tail feathers, while an adult would have feathers that look squared off or, if only two, at least broadly rounded.

    American crows are only sexually mature at almost 2 years of age (the spring 2 years after their hatching spring), although very few will pair up and breed at that age. The interest shown in the metal bird is also typical of young birds…who are sort of ADHD about investigating all sorts of things that their older group-mates or parents just ignore.

    The hoarse sounds recorded may also be those typical of young crows…you may hear the youngster sitting by itself, running through a vast repertoire of crow-sounds, strung together in no logical order (to the ear of the human listener). And other crows in the family rarely respond to those “songs”—as they have been called misleadingly.

    So–I am not sure why only the duo of a juvenile and one possible adult are present. In our long term study population, the ravages of West Nile Virus have again left remnants of families, and some young birds are joining other families, when their parents and older relatives have died. Or there are just partial families left, sometimes just a mom or dad and a 2017 youngster or two. Good luck to Marvin and Mavis.

    • Dear Anne, Thanks so much for taking the time to read the blog and to send me so much great information. I’m definitely more enthusiastic than knowledgeable, but just watching and listening and reading material from and by people who study crows professionally can teach a lot. I wonder if perhaps in that first picture I got M & M mixed up with part of the Firehall family. We’ve had a recent upheaval in the crow population due to the sad passing of George. George was unmistakeable because of his broken beak, but things are a lot more confusing now.

      I don’t do crosswords or Sudoku, but I figure that the endless crow puzzle keeps my brain cells twitching. Thanks so much, once again, for your feedback. Cheers, June

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  6. Hi June. I’ve just re -read your piece on “Mika” and I am so impressed with your writing! Please hug “Geordie for me. My heart is full now, and at peace with this happy ending finally. It truly does take a village. I am following you now, and would love one of your calendars. How would I go about doing that.
    Wishing you and yours, a very Merry Christmas, I know mine will be now. <3 "Kendra Springer"

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