Fledgling’s Progress

I try to resist naming fledgling crows until at least September, given the myriad ways in which disaster can befall them in the first few weeks of life. Marvin and Mavis’s young one is tempting me though — and I seem to have started thinking of him as Lucky, rather that just the “safer” Baby M.

Of all the crow parents who built nests this spring, Marvin and Mavis seem to be one of the very few around here with a fledgling surviving into August.

In years gone by all the other crows had much more success at child rearing, with up to three or four fledglings in one season to show for their efforts. Marvin and Mavis’s every nesting attempt met with disaster, until last summer when they successfully raised not one, but two fledglings.

Through a Heat Dome, no less.

This year they only have one, rather doted upon, offspring. His little begging voice is the only one I hear in the neighbourhood. I have to walk a few blocks to find another family with a single fledgling. I’m not sure if this is a Vancouver-wide phenomenon, or just a local quirk.

The Wings suffered some sort of early catastrophe and seem reconciled to a fledgling-less summer

In this area the other crow regulars seem to have resigned themselves to a year off from parenting. They all built nests in spring but, for one reason or another, no fledglings appeared and now there seems to be little appetite for a second, late season, attempt. I wonder if they’re learning to anticipate how dry the summers are getting to be, and remembering how challenging that makes the job of fledgling rearing.

It’s a worrying thought, but it makes me feel all the luckier to see Marvin and Mavis come by most days with little Lucky in tow. It’s such a privilege to watch him figuring the world out, one day at a time.

You can almost see his quick brain absorbing and analyzing every new sign and sound in his rapidly expanding world.

Earlier in July, he spent quite a bit of time napping in the shady Katsura tree in front of the house …

… allowing mom and dad a few precious moments to themselves …

Each parent gets to choose their own self care priority.

Spa treatment … meditation … each follows their own bliss.

I’ve realized that there are few things more peaceful than watching a sleeping bird, riding the gentle waves of the wind-wafted branches and dreaming bird dreams.

These photos were all taken earlier in July, before we went away for a short holiday.

You can see that. his beak was still that bright “feed me” pink, but the eyes had already faded from the bright blue of the first few weeks to a rather lovely soft grey. Marvin and Mavis were still mostly feeding him via “direct deposit” before we left, but also starting to encourage him to pick up his own food.

Worm for the win!!

By the time we came back from our ten day holiday, my first concern was whether Lucky was still with us. I was very happy to hear him squawking from a distance on our first morning back. Phew.

Seeing the family together, I note that Marvin and Mavis are getting incrementally more determined to have him get his own food. While his beak looks less dramatically pink when closed, you can see in the photo below how it still lights up like a beacon when he adopts the “feed me, feed me” pose and the sun catches it.

The begging still works some of the time, but mom and dad are getting a little less indulgent every day.

This morning I noticed Lucky hounding Mavis to bring her some peanuts from our deck railing, a few feet from where they both were. Mavis was having none of this.

Lucky: Mum, mum, mum, mum … peanuts, peanuts, peanuts ….!


Mavis: @#$%&!!!!

Mavis retires to a quiet branch to regroup

If all goes well, Lucky will be pretty independent by September and ready to either stick around with mom and dad until next year to help with nesting chores, or take off on his (or her) own to make their own (exciting, risky) crow way in the city.

Either way, I feel almost as lucky as Marvin and Mavis to have had his entertaining company this summer.

And, by the way, Lucky is already quite capable of getting his own peanuts. For all the fuss this morning, here he was calmly collecting his own food just the day before.  Like all skill acquisition, it’s one step forward and one step back, but there IS progress!





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10 thoughts on “Fledgling’s Progress

  1. Thanks so much for posting this. It has inspired me to feed the crows in my own urban abode and keep my eye out for my new friends.

  2. Lucky! Stay hydrated in this heat, sweet beautiful black feathered friends! Thanks again, June for another informative post. So happy Mavis and Marvin had success this year with fledglings.

  3. Fabulous blog as usual and adorable pictures! I was just thinking the same thing no babies this year and I am in Mission. Normally by now that’s all you can hear. I thought there was one but lots of Eagles hanging around and now I don’t hear it anymore. Hopefully this doesn’t mean anything and next year we will be woken in the early morning with thrilling voices of the babies.

  4. That’s concerning about the lack of crow babies, but thanks for the enchanting story about Lucky! I wish him/her every success! Caw!

  5. I have two beloved crow families that hang around my house in Baltimore City. This year, there are five fledglings, one of whom, temporarily named Baby, stays in my yard or on the back porch all day every day, frequently alone. My husband has noticed that the crows and other birds spend a lot of time looking into all of our windows while trying to determine where we are in the house.. It is a little creepily fascinating to watch them all repeatedly fly by while looking in at us. We feed everyone with sunflower chips and peanut splits, with good quality puppy kibble for the crows in the morning (also appreciated by the blue jays), organic fig bars (which everybody likes a little piece of, including bunny, who runs right up to me), along with leftovers, grapes and other overripe berries and fruit, and today with 105 degree heat index, I discovered that they really like chilled canteloupe. But their very favorite thing is Cheezits original style.

    The five fledglings are very loud, and I am sure that my neighbors think I am nuts, as I respond to their calls with various foods. The calls are rarely demanding but more often gentle, single syllable sounds. We too, have been suffering with high temperatures and Code Red heat alerts so I have been keeping many water dishes fresh for all the birds and even stock them with ice during the worst of the heat.

    I have noticed Baby’s mom’s behavior changing exactly as you described, as she becomes annoyed and slaps him down with her beak as he begs incessantly, even though he is perfectly capable of feeding himself now. I have (probably wrongly) assumed that he is a male due to his intransigence. I love and feel protective of them all.

    My question is, where do they roost at night? How far will they travel to a roosting site? They start showing up, mostly quietly around 5:30-6:00 a.m. and wait for me to wake up and then leave about an hour before dark.

    Many thanks for your observations, photos, and City Crow Calendars.

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