Marvin and Mavis have had more than their share of nesting tragedy over the years. They’ve lost hatchlings to bald eagles, raccoons and cars. One particularly sad year, their only fledgling left the nest too soon and didn’t survive the landing. Marvin and Mavis seemed to have the hardest time accepting that particular loss, sitting and peering into the nest for days after, as if hoping the baby would magically reappear.
For a while it looked as if this year was heading down the same sorrowful path.
Things started happily enough, with a fledgling sighting in front of our house on the evening of July 18. I took a couple of photos of the new baby hopping in the flower bed and left the protective parents to it.
But when took a last peek out of the front door to see if they were OK before going to bed, I was just in time to see the fledgling flapping about across the street and crashing into a neighbour’s garden gate. Marvin and Mavis were beside themselves. With sinking heart, I went over to to see what had happened. The little bird was lying motionless and looking quite dead, just inside the gate. The neighbour came out onto her balcony and we discussed the situation, deciding to leave the body till morning — especially given that the parents were clearly distraught.
It was such a sad end to the day, and a seemingly very short life story for this little bird.
I was up first thing next morning, prepared for the worst — but there was no trace of the baby crow — not a single feather, nor any other evidence that I hadn’t dreamed the whole thing. Absolutely no sign of Marvin and Mavis. Later in the day I checked in with the neighbour and she told me she’d gone out after dark the evening before and there was no sign of any crows by then, living or dead.
All was very quiet for a day or two , but then one morning I woke up to the softest crow conversation I’d ever heard going on in a tree near the house. Little mewing sounds and soft quacks were being answered by very soft, almost raven-complex, murmurings from M & M. I honestly have rarely heard anything so lovely.
I peered up between the leaves, and there was this little face.
I’d been clinging to the very faint hope that the fledgling had just been stunned and given time to come round, had been whisked away by Marvin and Mavis. That just seemed too much to wish for, and yet . . .
In the next day or so, it almost seemed as if I heard an echo of the baby’s calls. A second fledgling really seemed far too much to hope for and I never could see more than one at once, given the jigsaw of leaves the family was hiding in.
But then, a day or so later, on the neighbour’s roof, incontrovertible proof . . . a pair!
It’s been so very hot and dry, I’ve been constantly providing fresh water for drinking and bathing. Also popping out every hour or so to see if I can still see or hear both of them has become the routine of the summer.
“Still two” is my relieved report after each outing.
Different baby crow personalities emerged almost from the beginning.
One of them seemed to need a lot more attention in the early days.
In the video below, mom and dad are both engaged in soft preening to try and sooth those sad little calls.
Meanwhile, the other fledgling seemed more of an explorer, enthusiastically collecting data on that essential “is this food or just fun?” research project while Marvin and Mavis were otherwise engaged.
As the days go by, both of the babies, even the initially needy one, are starting to get more independent.
Sometimes Marvin and Mavis even get a few moments to themselves now, while the siblings entertain themselves nearly — although one here seems more interested in napping than playing.
Sometimes the kids go off on their own down the street …
. . . while mom and dad ask themselves that question common to all new and exhausted parents, “what have we gotten ourselves into?”
More updates coming soon!
See also: Marvin and Mavis: A Love Story, 2019
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