Earl and Echo’s Very Busy Summer

While some crow couples in the neighbourhood are now seeing glimpses of light at the end of the parenting tunnel, Earl and Echo are still in the thick of it.

They were about three weeks behind the Wings and the Bongos in the fledging launching stakes this year. I was beginning to wonder if they’d have any success at all but, near the end of June, Earl and Echo’s territory was suddenly full of noisy babies (I counted four) with the parents racing between them and trying to keep them fed, quiet and generally under the radar of local predators.

Two of the new fledglings, one napping, June 24 2023

Fierce Earl on guard

Earl is identifiable, even when flying, by his one bent leg

Earl — incoming!

Echo is identifiable by her one blind eye and constant head bobbing movement

Vision problems notwithstanding, little gets past Echo

In spite of their various physical obstacles, Earl and Echo are fierce and competent parents. Through the long dry summer, fraught with the usual fledgling-perils, they’ve managed to shepherd three of the original four to crow teen-dom. An impressive feat for any crow couple.

Earl with two of the youngsters in mid-July

Earl and one of the kids last week — you can see how badly bent his poor leg is

Most of the other crow parents have now weaned their fledglings from begging for food (via a combination of studious ignoring and the occasional well-aimed peck.) Because Earl and Echo were late starters this year, they’re still having to put up with a certain amount of teen angst.

Earl seems to be almost blown off his feet by the sheer volume of whinging

The combination of ceaseless parenting  and moulting season have both Earl and Echo looking distinctly the worse for wear at the moment.

Earl this morning, sporting the classic “reverse-mullet” typical of this stage in moulting

Note the scratch marks on Earl’s well-worn beak, as well as the tiny new pin feathers coming in on his face

When not following the small details of individual crows’ lives around the neighbourhood, I’ve continued to think of them from a more “zoomed out” perspective, with all of their potential as messengers, if only we will take a moment to try and listen to what they have to say.

Whenever I’m in this frame of mind, I go back to the more abstract thinking that led to the crow typewriter idea. Lately, among other things, I’ve been working on a more stylized “sans-serif” version of the Crowphabet.

Here’s a little preview, spelling out the names of today’s crows.


For more on Earl and Echo:





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