Some days seem harder than others. It’s November — with still more than a month to go before the winter solstice, when the light (slowly, slowly) begins to turn the tide against the dark.

It’s cold, dark and generally miserable. We’re in the middle of pandemic that looks set to get worse before it gets better . . . so, yes,  this week seems particularly grim.

Keeping exclusively to our tiny household groups can make things a bit lonely. It’s certainly not a time to be getting out there and expanding your social circles.

Unless, of course, you’re looking to add some crows to your support group.

The benefits are many — in good times and bad.

I’ve written about my Crow Therapy theory before, but I thought a little pandemic re-cap might be in order.

Hang in there!

Not worrying about how crazy the neighbours might think you are is a bit of prerequisite for longer conversations with your local crows.

I imagine more of us may be at this point now than we were at the start of the year.

I often compare notes with Marvin and Mavis on how our respective years are going.

I know they’ve had a rough 2020, losing their entire tree territory overnight this summer and, in spite of building at least three nests this spring, having no surviving fledglings to show for all that hard work.

Consequently, it’s hard to say who’s sympathizing with who when I tell them about the latest political and pandemic news.

Nothing really surprises them any more.

Although sometimes . . .

If you don’t feel ready for fully fledged conversations with crows just yet, they also appreciate a simple generic greeting as you pass by, delivered in a suitably appreciative tone.

How’s it going, guys? Lookin’ good.

Of course, you may not feel ready to engage in any degree of chatting with crows (yet)— and this is  perfectly fine.

The benefits of paying attention to crows can also be experienced from a discreet distance.

If you watch them every day, through the whole year, you’ll start see seasonal behaviour patterns. There will be lots of tender allopreening in the weeks before they start nesting, building that pair bond for the hard work ahead. There may also be some local skirmishes as they stake out nest territory. Then there’s the lovely “flying with twigs” period as they start construction.

Next, the nesting females will disappear completely for a while, hidden as they  incubate the eggs. By early summer it’s the time of baby crows, with some dive bombing of unwary pedestrians as parent crows try to protect their flight incompetent fledglings. A summer of noisily begging baby crows and increasingly exhausted parents ensues. The end-of-summer moulting season blends into raucous fall behaviour, gradually quietening into winter, as new crows learn the rules of etiquette and everyone settles into their usual territory and predicable habits.

One of the main purposes of my annual City Crow Calendar is to give a small sense of this lovely pattern of parallel lives going on through the seasons — although, rest assured, it does also have dates and the usual calendar stuff in it too!

Observing this cycle of life has been especially grounding this year when so many  human habits and expectations have been upended.

I heard my son telling a friend on the phone today about a lovely dream he had last night — of being at a party. It’s so sad that simple parties are currently the stuff of dreams. It’s not an exact substitute, but you can safely soak up a rave-like atmosphere by observing your local crow roost any night of the week.

While scouring the stressful news seems unavoidable this year, I do find it helpful to have the alternative narrative of what’s happening in my local crow world running in my mind. It’s a refreshing channel change to look at the world from their point of view — and there are truly plenty of compelling stories going on out there.

Stay tuned for some of the latest from the CrowFlix in coming posts …


I know — pretty gripping, right?





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Crow Comforts

14 thoughts on “Crow Comforts

  1. Absolutely gorgeous as always. I actually chat with our gorgeous Aussie magpies and currawongs that have the most lovely songs. I’ve never seen so many crows as shown in the last clip June!

    • Hi Hiranya — I actually chat to ALL of our birds too – from the tiniest bushtit visiting the garden to the occasional raven or eagle in the ‘hood. I guess I should really call it “bird therapy.” And, yes, if you ever visit Vancouver you must visit the crow roost just for the awe inspiring sight of rivers and rivers of crows flying it. I love it!

  2. I so enjoy your photos of your local crows. We have a family who have come to our backyard for several years now. We feed them daily and have even been known to “cook” for them. But have never been able to get close enough for photos. They allow us to watch from the window with our binoculars – or they may stay in the oak tree when we take out treats – but that’s as far as it goes. So your beautiful photos, especially the close ups, are greatly appreciated.

  3. Thank you for sharing your conversations with the birds. I also talk to the crows and acknowledge the hummingbird & if I am lucky if he stays on a branch near me then we will have a short conversation. I can’t imagine not acknowledging their chatter. It is such a pleasure to be in tune with the natural world. CARELL

    • It’s true that I actually talk to all the birds too, with some quite lengthy chats with hummingbirds. Occasionally they scold me if the nectar is getting low in winter, in their little “I’d like to speak to the manager” tone. 🙂

  4. lovely to get a bit of crow therapy from you. makes me feel nostalgic for the days when i used to work at our local wildlife rehab centre. we were one of the only rehabs that would take in crows (we were ALL crow freaks who worked there). we had several unreleasables who became very tame and some others that we released on site who stayed around and nested on the acreage. some of them would fly down and sit on my shoulders as i worked and we would have brilliant conversations about the state of the world. i always filled my pockets with treats and they would help themselves. ah, those were the days!

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