A Head Full of Crows

It’s a recurring condition with me, I’m afraid.

Often my brain gets so overwhelmed with crow thoughts that words fail me. This bout is particularly ill-timed as I am overdue in writing this blog post and I know many of you are awaiting news on the Walkers and other crows. I’m also trying to prepare a talk about crows to be delivered on Hornby Island in less than a week.

Time, therefore, to try and blast through the crow block. Here goes …


One of the things weighing on me, and that I’ve been reluctant to share, is that I have worrying news about the Walkers.

I was so thrilled to see that they got through Mr. Walker’s spring eye injury, the giant new house going up right beside their chimney nest and the long hot spring to the point of getting both fledglings safely out of the nest.

Fledgling number one left the nest on July 6. Fledgling number two is much smaller and probably would have stayed nest-bound longer, but I think it was just getting too hot up there, and they exited on July 8.

Baby Two’s last day in the hot nest

Days after Fledgling One was on the ground, I noticed that he or she has avian pox around one side of the mouth and eye, poor thing.

Fledgling Two looks healthier, which is good.

Walker babies, July 14

Walker Baby Two, whose tail feathers don’t seem quite developed yet

Wanda and Baby Two seeking shade in someone’s vegetable garden

Even more worrying; I haven’t seen Mr Walker for just over a week . Wanda seems to be single-parenting both fledglings and is looking pretty exhausted, racing around in this heat all day long.

Wanda on feeding detail

Mr. Walker on July 13, the last time I saw him

I’m hoping that (a) Mr. Walker will reappear and (b) Baby One will manage to fight off the avian pox — but I’m feeling, I have to admit, extremely anxious.

Baby Two going for a stroll, looking for lawn watering refreshment


The second thing that has crows flapping around in my head, day and night, is preparing my talk on Crow Watching.

I know, I know, I’ve given talks before and this should be a doddle. Why reinvent the wheel, etc? But every time I revisit the subject I start turning around the “why crows?” question in my mind. New answers, and “better” ways to express them pop up and I feel I have to work them in.

It’s like having to write the dreaded “artist’s statement” — wrestling the jello of thoughts, feelings and doubts about your work; why it’s important; why anyone but you should care — into something vaguely coherent (and less than four hours long!)

I’m at the “incomprehensible spaghetti bowl full of ideas” stage at the moment, but hoping that I’ll have the strands separated by next week.

I see I’m starting to use a lot of food metaphors, which is my brain telling me it’s time to start making dinner.

I’ll say goodbye for now and hope that the crows will come and magically write my presentation for me as I sleep, like the little birds and mice in Cinderella!

Or maybe I’ll just write the whole thing in “crow.”


You can find details on the Hornby Island Crow talk HERE — scroll down to July 27.

Also, I’ll be giving an online one for the Stanley Park Ecological Society on September 13 (details to come.)




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18 thoughts on “A Head Full of Crows

  1. Oh dear, the Walkers have been having a tough time! My best wishes to them for things to work out okay!
    I love your picture of the typewriter!

  2. It’s heartbreaking sometimes when you pay close attention to wildlife. My sister has a view into a robin family’s nest from her home office window and watched 4 babies launch successfully a couple months ago. Sadly, poor air quality from the wildfires took its toll on batch #2 earlier this month, and those chicks were lost.😢

    • Oh no, that’s awful. I was worried that the Walker babies might die of heat and thirst before they got out of that chimney nest, so at least they did manage to get out of that predicament. Baby Two seems OK, so far, with Wanda on hand. No sign of Baby One or Mr. Walker still today.

  3. So sad an update….I hope Mr. Walker and fledglings will appear and improve….it’s been hard weather for all. I love that you give talks and I can only imagine trying to pull things together freshly when you have so much knowledge and observations.

    • Thanks, Pernille. Fingers crossed for those Walkers. They certainly deserve some good luck soon. And thanks, I’m sure I’ll manage to get the talk sorted out. My husband is a retired CBC radio producer, so he’s good at helping me see what to keep and what to edit out to make things relatively coherent!

  4. I do hope Mr. Walker comes flying in soon. I know that dread and worry you feel for your crow family. It’s hard to concentrate on much of anything with that kind of worry.

  5. I know how you feel, June, as I watch and worry about how my crows are fairing in this heat. Did I ever believe when raising my kids that my crow families well-being would take over.
    I hope your little fledgling is strong enough to beat the pox. With good food and help from his human family he might just do well!

  6. Hi June, There was a dead adult crow in the road in front of 2568 East 4th Ave last week. I picked it up and placed it on the boulevard. It seemed to have a few pieces torn off as if it had been attacked. Unfortunately I was in a hurry and didn’t look more carefully. I don’t know if that was Mr. Walker’s area….. I now wish I’d looked more carefully.

  7. Hi June. How do you approach avian pox in your crows these days? One of the three (!) babies in our yard appears infected. We are new to this house but the whole crow family has really been enjoying the bathing basin in the yard. I feed them a few kibbles in the morning/evening but that’s about it. Mostly wondering if I should do the bleaching/cleaning/stop-feeding-and-watering thing, or is it OK since the whole family unit has been (or likely will be) exposed. I was overjoyed to find such a large, growing family in our yard but have been saddened since this development. 🙁

    • Hi Zach — sorry for delay in replying — I’ve been away. Argh, avian pox is such a nightmare. I had hoped it was going away as I hadn’t seen any fledglings with it for the last couple of years, but now I see both the Walker fledglings have it. It’s so hard to know what to do, as you feel bad for them and the parents, BUT it’s so contagious. It’s a real conundrum about whether to put water out or not, especially as it’s so dry. If you do keep leaving water out, I’d clean it with bleach (or vinegar) at least twice a day. I’d also consider bringing the water bowl in, as the risk of the pox infecting other birds is so real.
      When in doubt, I usually defer to the advice of crow scientist, Kaeli Swift, on her wonderful blog and I see that she advises it’s best to stop feeding and watering. https://corvidresearch.blog/2014/08/16/identifying-crows-dieases-avian-pox/

  8. I am just so sad to hear the updates regarding the Walker family. Thank you for your love and care and letting your readers know. B~

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