It can be a bit confusing to hear the sounds of fledgling crows begging loudly for food as early as April.
We’re still weeks away from the excitement of the first fledgling appearances — so what’s going on?
You’re hearing the sound of female crows begging food from their mates. They sound just like hungry fledglings and also adopt the classic begging pose — wings out, head lowered.
It’s just another part of the nesting dance. The construction of the nest is probably complete and the female is getting ready to lay eggs, but first she needs to remind her mate that she, just like the helpless fledgling she’s mimicking, is going to be relying on him for food soon.
The Walkers have been displaying this behaviour for a week or so now.
Shortly before laying eggs the female crow loses feathers on a patch of her underside so that her body heat will pass to the eggs without any feathery insulation getting in the way. This is called a brood patch — and only the mother crow has one — so for two to three weeks it’s her job to sit on the nest and incubate the precious eggs, while her mate is responsible for guarding the nest and keeping her fed. If he fails, she will be brooding in more way than one …
Wanda is starting to insist that Mr. Walker feed her, even when she’s got a beak full of food already, just to jog his crow brain into remembering his coming duties.
Here’s a little phone video series of the current daily routine.
Part one: As always, Mr. Walker dashes along beside us. At the moment his route is decorated with drifts of pink snow from fallen cherry blossom petals.
Part two: As usual, Wanda arrives at the peanut destination first (having come via air travel) and gets first dibs on the snacks.
Part three: in spite of having more than her share of peanuts, Wanda insists that Mr. W feeds her some of his. He gallantly obliges.
Let’s hope the Walkers have a successful season. Like many of the local crows, their 2022 nesting efforts went unrewarded, so a couple of new little Walkers this year would be extra nice.
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5 thoughts on “Sounds of Springtime”
What a treat to see the Walkers in action – they are quite a couple – and I’ve learned something new (re “brood patch”). Thanks for this!
June, I can hardly wait to open your emails to read and admire all the fantastic pictures and video’s awaiting to be viewed!! I am also keenly interested in all our fine-feathered friends and appreciate every bit of information you provide!! You are such a talented writer! I had no idea that the female crow teaches her mate ahead of time to feed her and their soon to be babies!! We have already purchased from you 2 of your beautiful prints and proudly display them on our living room wall for everyone to enjoy, including our adult kids and grandkids (we are all nature lovers). If you ever decide to sell the prints of the crows gathering twigs for their nest that you emailed recently, there is one in particular I would be thrilled to add to the other two!
Thanks so much, Joyce. That’s very kind of you and I will consider making a print with the crow with nesting materials!
Thank you for the photos. One question: why was last year an unsuccessful year for nesting crows?
It could just have been an unsuccessful year locally, but we had a lot fewer than the usual number of fledglings. We have lost a lot of trees to development and wind over the past few years, so fewer nesting sites. We have local eagles, which is amazing, but they prey on young crows. Also hot dry summers …? Could be a variety of factors.