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.
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.
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.
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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