The Crow Summer of ’23

I’ve been putting off this post because, as you may have guessed from my last mention of the Walker crows, things have not been going well for them. I know this update will make many of you sad, as it has me.

Their tragedy, set in the context of this summer’s many, many heartbreaking tragedies, can seem like “hill of beans” material; and yet, I keep watching, thinking about and reporting on the crows’ lives because I believe to my core, that we need to watch them all — the small pictures and the big picture.

For the Walkers, things went from pretty good, to very bad, to surprisingly hopeful, to disaster in a few months. To recap: by mid-April, they seemed all systems go for nesting when Mr. Walker suffered his eye injury, which put everything on hold as he recovered. By the first week of May, they were back in the nesting game. The next challenge was the empty lot next to them suddenly sprouting a massive new structure which surprisingly brought a lot of human activity right up to nest level.

The Walkers met that unexpected challenge and, in  what seemed to be the final victory, got both of the two fledglings safely down out of the high nest. I really thought the odds had turned in their favour at this point.

Two Walker fledglings safely fledged

It was right at this point that Mr. Walker just disappeared. I walked that block time after time, day after day trying to spot him but only found a very exhausted Wanda (who is also blind in one eye) braving the hot dry weather, trying to keep the two fledglings fed and out of danger.

Mr. Walker, last seen around July 12

Walker Baby on July 13

Walker Fledgling on July 19

Wanda doing her best as a single parent


Exhausted Wanda

Wanda’s impaired vision has always made it hard for her to make a smooth landing on branches. I guess her depth perception is a bit off, so she was crashing from one tree to another trying her best to keep the young ones safe. But there was one danger she couldn’t keep at bay. The first baby to fledge, and then the second, started showing signs of avian pox around the beak and eyes. They are the only crows I’ve seen recently with the pox, and I won’t post photos as I just can’t bear to look at them myself. I’m not sure why these two came down with it when all of the other local fledglings I’ve seen look healthy — but I do know that having the variety that infects the beak and eye area is usually fatal.

I was away for five days for the Hornby Island trip and went up to the Walkers’ area as soon as I got back to see how things were going, only to find an eerie silence. No baby begging sounds and no Wanda. No Walkers at all, in fact — from four Walkers in early July to zero Walkers a month later

I go back at least once, often twice, a day to see if I see anyone. I have occasionally thought I caught a glimpse of Wanda, but I can’t be sure. As always, watching and becoming fond of wild creatures is, as my husband always says, “not all beer and skittles.” It does require a willingness to have your heart broken (and yet hold on to a small patient hope that fall might bring some sort of miraculous return.)

Mr. Walker in happier times, spring 2022

In Happier News …

Other local crow families are faring better – the Wings, the Bongos and the very busy Earl and Echo have managed to get through the season, although all are looking a bit bedraggled as they combine the later-stage fledgling care with a moult that seems to have started earlier than usual for some of them.

More on them in the coming days …



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20 thoughts on “The Crow Summer of ’23

  1. I am also saddened by the news of the Walkers and am sorry for you loss. I have a family I keep an eye on too and can imagine your heartbreak to lose them. I hope they are together in crow heaven.

  2. Thank you for the update June. Although it is very sad news, I agree with your view that it’s as important to acknowledge and care about those small tragedies. You’ve taught us to open our eyes to the wonders of nature, urban and otherwise. I love your blogs as much as your art. Thank you

  3. Dear June, Such sad news about The Walkers. My heart goes out to you. The beloved crows on your street are so blessed to have you looking out for them. Nature can be so brutal, and then layer onto that human activity that disrupts an already delicate balance. Thank you, for continuing to blog about the birds on your block.

  4. I’m so sorry to hear about the Walkers. It’s heartbreaking. It’s hard not get attached to (and worry about) them. They are more endearing than most humans I know. Your beautiful art will (in time) bring you the happier memories. little souls that take up a huge space in your heart.

  5. Dear June ,
    I am so very sorry to hear about your heartbreak.
    Your love and devotion to these beautiful crows has made our hearts happy as well.
    May you find much peace in your wonderful art and in your happy memories.

  6. Because of your blog, I try to watch the family of crows that is inhabiting the small forested area on our property on the St. John River. I am going to have to invest in a better pair of binoculars or a lens that allows me to see them without disturbing their lives. I am so sorry about the Walkers. I have a bit of an eye issue that made me feel quite protective of them. My condolences because you have suffered a loss. The photo of Mr. Walker shows him at his jaunty best.

  7. June, I’m so sorry to hear about the Walkers❤️. Hopefully, there won’t be any more occurrences of the avian pox.

  8. Thank you for keeping us up to date on all things crow in your neighborhood. Even the sad news is a heartfelt reminder that all living things make a difference in the world, and that just observing them can bring us joy. I hope the Walkers make a reappearance, but regardless I will choose to believe that they and all of their fledglings have made their mark on the world.

  9. No ‘hill of beans’ June. Thank you again for all of your observations – they are something that many of us look forward to and they reflect a lot of life. Happy as well as sad. I’m sorry to hear of the Walker’s troubles and am hoping the Wings continue to fare well. Take care. x

  10. So sorry about the Walkers. They were special and will be missed by you and all your and their fans. Interacting with the wild ones can be heartbreaking, but who can stop?!

  11. I am so saddened by your news. I had a very soft spot in my heart for Mr Walker and his family. Thank you for writing with such feeling – of the good and the sad.

  12. Heartbroken indeed. Thank you so much for your brave, unwavering reports, love and care of the amazing nature around you. Your writing paints pictures in words.

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