Pearl and Echo

It’s been such a long time since my last post about the wonderful Long Eared Owl sighting! It’s not that there hasn’t been anything to write about — the crow world provides notable events of one kind or another every single day. Sometimes I think I should just do a daily crow diary and perhaps that will be a 2023 project.

Right now things are a little crazy for daily blog posts as I’ve started on the slippery luge track into the holiday season (a process inevitably ending with me in a crumpled heap on on Boxing Day wondering how I got there.)

I’m also preparing for my upcoming online talk about Crow Watching for the Stanley Park Ecology Centre.

No matter how busy I get, however, Geordie has to be walked three times a day. The last walk of the day is now after the crows’ bedtime, but that still leaves two crow watching expeditions a day to keep up on the parallel crow universe.

As a way to organize ALL the news, I’m going to try and write some updates on the seven crows I wrote about earlier this year in my City Crow Stories book.

I’m starting here with Pearl and Echo, who were briefly introduced in a recent blog post, The Young and the Restless  — which was mostly about their rather mischievous youngster, Dennis.

This little family is a great example of finding small differences between crows to tell them apart from others and thus being able to follow their unique crow story.

First we have Pearl. She (or he) is so named because of a passing resemblance to Vermeer’s famous portrait, Girl With A Pearl Earring.

Please tell me you see it too …?

While you may not be able to afford a Vermeer for your hallway, the crow version is very affordable …

Anyway, she (or he) became Pearl in my somewhat random crow naming process. I am prepared, if it becomes necessary, to rename her Earl.

While her similarity to an Old Dutch Master comes and goes, depending on the tilt of a head and the direction of the light,  Pearl has a more reliable “tell.”

I can spot her from a distance purely by a very distinctive pigeon-toed pose, which is caused by her right leg being a bit crooked. One foot is usually folded over the other in a rather pensive-looking position.

 

Never far from Pearl is her mate, Echo.

Echo appears to be blind in the left eye.

I’ve known other crows with impaired vision over the years, but Echo is the only one I’ve noticed who appears to try and compensate by using head movements. Her constant head bobbing, which reminds me a little of an owl, echolocating in the twilight, makes her easy to identify — and gave me the name.

In the video below you can see Echo trying to extract information from the air … and getting a bit confused by a wasp.

I had hoped that this last spring would offer a clue as to actual gender within the Pearl-Echo team by seeing which of the two would disappear for a few weeks in a row to sit on eggs in the nest. Only the females are equipped to incubate the eggs during the nesting process, developing a custom-purpose brood patch. This is an area of skin under the body that loses feathers, allowing heat to transmit, unimpeded, from the mother’s body to the eggs.

Careful observation revealed … drumroll … not much. Neither Pearl nor Echo went AWOL for more than a day or so at a time, so I’m not sure if they didn’t nest this year, or if something went wrong early in the season. Gender distribution remains moot.

But, as we know, Pearl and Echo are far from lonely with Dennis still around from spring 2021 to keep things lively.

Dennis could well be Denise, in fact, as I’m told that female fledglings are more likely than the males to stick around with the parents as “helpers” for more than the first summer.

Dennis/Denise spends a lot of time hanging out with P/Earl. This is partly, I think, because Echo prefers a higher perch, the better to read the audio signals from afar.

Dennis amusing himself by testing the edibility of the ornamental fence

Dennis finds this fancy fence endlessly entertaining.

Occasionally Pearl has to put her foot, bent or otherwise, down with Dennis.

In the scene below Dennis was pushing his luck with Pearl over some mutually coveted treasure. An angry flamenco-like scene ensued.

But, really, who could stay mad at a face like this …

Generally, the three of them seem to form a united team against other crows and general hazards — cats, raccoons, eagles, owls etc.

Dennis showing off aeronautical skills for mom and dad

You will see that most pictures of Pearl and family are set against similar landmarks — an old wooden blue fence or that fancy gold-topped ornamental railing. This is because they usually stay in their half block or so territory.

Knowing that urban crows generally stay within their territory during daylight hours is an important clue to crow detective work.

It’s also good to know that rules are made to be broken, especially in the fall and early winter seasons when crows are more likely to challenge other crow in “their” territory.

I noticed earlier this week that a the whole Pearl family defied crow etiquette by following me all the way home, right into Marvin and Mavis’s territory.

This anomaly confirmed by a positive Pearl ID on the stone gate post across the street from our house …

So, crow watching (see I’m already working on my presentation) calls for using all the clues at our disposal — territory, behaviour, tell-tale quirks.

Honestly, it’s like Suduko — a good brain workout every day!

City Crow Stories — a perfect crow lover holiday gift!

The Amazing Long-eared Owl

Crows bring people gifts.

The gifts most often talked about are the tangible kind — little bits and bobs left by crows for their human friends, seemingly in gratitude for peanuts or other treats.

But the bigger gift they give, for me at least, is their habit of yelling at me “Oi, you! Yes — you! Come over here and have a look at this, right now!” on a regular basis.

When I hear the crows making a ruckus I always, if I possibly can, change plans and go see what it’s all about.

Invariably, it’s something.

Occasionally, it’s something amazing.

Always worth the diversion!

Yesterday, Geordie and I set out on the morning walk, following the usual route to say hi to the Walkers and Wings when crows from near and far started flying over us to a tree a couple of blocks north. They were kicking up a crowcophany audible around the neighbourhood.

Naturally, we immediately made a sharp detour to see what was going on.

I peered at the tree from a variety of angles but couldn’t see what the fuss was about until a woman walking by on the other side of the road said she could see something —maybe an owl!

Not only was it an owl, it was an owl with what looked like ENORMOUS ears. I had a quick look at my Sibley’s bird guide phone app and thought that ears of this magnitude could only belong to the aptly named Long-eared Owl. But, reading on, I saw they were “rare or uncommon” — so that didn’t seem too likely for an urban East Vancouver street tree.

Various other neighbours, of the human variety, stopped by to see what the crow noise was about and we all gazed up into the branches. It was a “Where’s Waldo” situation as the owl was so well camouflaged, and the tree so big, that if you took your eyes off it for a moment it was really hard to locate again.

After about half an hour, most of the crows moved on to other crow business, leaving just the local family to keep an eye on the owl interloper. They would ignore the visitor for a while, pecking around nearby lawns in search of worms and then come back every 15 minutes or so for some pro forma cawing — just in case the owl was getting ideas.

 

Here’s how All About Birds describes the Long-eared Owl …

http://www.allaboutbirds.org
Long-eared Owls are lanky owls that often seem to wear a surprised expression thanks to long ear tufts that typically point straight up like exclamation marks. These nocturnal hunters roost in dense foliage, where their camouflage makes them hard to find, and forage over grasslands for small mammals. Long-eared Owls are nimble flyers, with hearing so acute they can snatch prey in complete darkness. In spring and summer, listen for their low, breathy hoots and strange barking calls in the night.

Surprised expression … check!

All owls excel at looking surprised, but this one definitely earned top marks for channeling pure astonishment.


Long ear tufts like exclamation marks … check!

These aren’t the owl’s real ears — just rather spectacular feather tufts (called plumicorns) that are used to funnel sound into the actual ears, which are cavities asymmetrically positioned on each side of the head. This asymmetry enables the Long-eared owl to hone in on prey by sound alone. The location of the tiniest sound (a leaf or blade of grass rustling, a small movement under a foot of snow) is narrowed down by the way the sounds arrive at each ear cavity at minutely different times, telling the bird whether dinner is to the left or right, up or down.

If you’d like to read more about the marvel of owl hearing and navigation, there are all kinds of amazing articles available. Owls and Owl Hearing is one of them.

Hey, check out my groovy plumicorns!

Owls always seem relatively relaxed when mobbed by crows. This owl was pretty small — about the same size as the crows, so you’d think they might feel threatened.

A glance at the heft of the their feet and the dagger-like sharpness of those claws may give a clue to why they seem so unworried by the crow clamour.

I’m not sure why this lovely owl was caught out in the open in the daylight like this. Perhaps they got carried away with hunting the night before and didn’t leave enough time to get to a more private place for day-time rest. We went back this morning to see if he or she was still there — which would have been worrying  — but saw no sign of them.

I hope, like the barred owl that rested in a tree in front of our house for a whole day a few years ago,  this Long-eared relative just waited until dusk until it was time to fly off into the darkness and become a hunting ghost — and that, today, they’re sleeping peacefully in a more tranquil location.

Oh, and I’m pretty certain now, rare or not, this was in fact a Long-eared owl, bringing an amazing day to our rather urban little neighbourhood.

Sibley’s Field Guide to Birds section on Long-eared owls

This owl was so well camouflaged in the tree there’s no way at all I would have spotted him or her without the crows leading me.

I know the crows had their own reasons for kicking up a fuss — owls are on the crow “naughty list,” along with any other creature that will prey on adult or fledgling crows or eggs — and so will be mobbed by the well organized Crow Cooperative in order to encourage the danger to move on to less rowdy prey.

Crow don’t waste their energy on these loud protests, so it’s always worthwhile to go check them out. While helping us with birdwatching isn’t their goal, it’s a service they do offer if we’re willing to take the help.

Just happening to see amazing birds while watching crows is a little different from “regular” bird watching in that you have to wait for the sighting to come to you, rather than seeking it out.

And, when it does come, out of the blue, it feels more like a gift that a personal achievement.

Other “gifts” I’ve been given by following crows include a juvenile eagle, other owls, coyotes, raccoons, a peregrine falcon, hawks, ravens and, one especially miraculous day, a runaway dog that had been missing for six weeks.

You can read about some of these special events in earlier blog posts:

While that crow “wall of sound” can be a little irritating if you’re seeking peace and quiet, I do suggest that you occasionally give in to your curiosity and go see what it’s all about.

You never know, it might just be a rare owl sighting right outside your door!

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© junehunterimages, 2022. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to junehunterimages with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

The Young & The Restless

In the many years I’ve been photographing and following crows I had never actually had one make physical contact — until this week.

It was predictable in two ways.

It’s THAT Time of Year.

I never get close to being dive bombed in nesting season, which you’d think would be the riskiest season of all.
Nope, it’s early fall, when the local crows are giddy with new freedom, that seems to be the most perilous time for me. The adult crows are free of parental responsibility and the young crows are (literally) spreading their wings and testing the limits of what they can get away with.

These crows, the young and the restless, are unbound by the conventions of who’s territory is whose and general good manners.

This is an annual phenomenon and I’ve written about it a few times. (See Corvid Flash Mobs  and Autumnal Adjustments.)

My tactics at this time of year include suspending Peanut Diplomacy until the rowdy phase passes. Sometimes I even change my walking route if things are getting too disorderly.

This year’s bonus challenge is …

Dennis the Menace*

Meet Dennis: he is a 2021 fledgling of Pearl and Echo’s. He (or she) has stayed with mom and dad since then. There were no new fledgling this year, so Dennis is a pampered only child.

Crow Without A Pearl Earring — portrait of Pearl

Above is Pearl, so named because she often reminds me (in a corvid way) of Vermeer’s portrait, Girl With A Pearl Earring.

Pearl and Echo
Echo and Dennis last year

I wrote about Pearl and her family in my book, City Crow Stories.

Point Guard Point Guard portrait of Dennis from last summer

Anyway, Dennis the Menace (or possibly Denise the Menice) has always been a little bit cheeky, following me to the end of his family’s territory and often swooping very close — enough for the occasional rush of wind from a wing against my face. While last year he was kind of scrawny and generally stayed close to his parents, this year he seems to be full of boundless confidence.

Perhaps a little too much confidence …

He keeps a close eye on me as I walk by.

Dennis … and a few of his closest friends (none of them being his parents) following me beyond the normal Pearl family territorial boundaries …

I’m used to Dennis swooping after me, wondering where his peanuts are, and I usually turn around in time so that he’ll swerve off to left or right.

Crows, according to crow scientist John Marzluff, won’t fly at you from the front and he recommends affixing fake eyes to the back of your hat if necessary.

A couple of days ago Dennis actually managed to make contact. I think it was the touch of a claw on the back of my head. Very light and no damage done, but it just shows what a determined little character this particular crow is. No meanness on his part, just a spot of over-enthusiasm.

What worried me much more than Dennis was a time when another clever crow, realizing that swooping close to me didn’t faze me, started to try and find my Achilles heel by flying at Geordie from behind. Geordie (my dog) has always been extremely relaxed around crows, but it would only take one crow landing on his back to change all that — forever!!! Luckily he never noticed how close the crow got as I managed to turn around in time to ward off actual contact and we changed walking route for a couple of weeks, just in case.

Back to Dennis. We had a good talk last time I saw him and he hasn’t managed to catch me out over the last few days.  I also turn around a lot when I’m in his neighbourhood.

I was recently thinking of taking up my needle felting again to make some new birds, but now I’m wondering if I should first felt myself a couple of large “eyes” for the back of my head!

Dennis The Menace

 

* when I gave the name Dennis the Menace, I’m thinking (and giving away my age in saying so) about the comic strip, Dennis and Gnasher, from the UK children’s comic, the Beano  — very popular in the 50’s.

 

 

City Crow Stories — available on my web site

 

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© junehunterimages, 2022. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to junehunterimages with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Crow Fest 22 — Part 2

Once the nutty attractions of the Hazelnut Happening are exhausted the crows still just wanna have fun — and seem to know it’s now time for the …

Dogwood Disco

A temporary evening scene of colour and sound, the Dogwood Disco is a kaleidoscope of rosy berries, golden leaves, flapping black wings and excited crow calls.

The whole thing lasts for under half an hour between the arrival of the party guests and their departure for the roost just before sunset. They leave behind a bit of a red carpet situation on the sidewalk …

Dogwood trees run for several blocks along Charles Street and, for some reason, the crows seem to start at the west end and, each evening, move a little to the east. They leave quite a lot of berries uneaten. Some sort of mysterious crow etiquette … ?

Perhaps they’re leaving some of the berries for the humans. Apparently they are edible, though from what I’ve read, it would take quite a lot of work to make something palatable from them. These are Kousa dogwoods, and apparently the pulp of the berries tastes a little like persimmon, but to get to that, you first have to deal with a bitter skin and a lot of hard seeds within the fruit. If you’re interested in doing a little urban foraging, I found this helpful blog post with some tips from T. Abe Lloyd. He aptly describes the berry as “a pink soccer ball on a stick.”

You could also view them as teeny, crow-sized disco balls!

And here’s what the blooms look like in early summer when the street is a river of white …

But back to the crows …

They are clearly undeterred by any finicky concerns about bitter skin or seeds as they dig in for their evening snack, which seems to be as much competition as fine dining.

 

The leaves are still so thick on the branches, it often looks as if the crows are swimming along the surface to get to their prize.

Almost there …. I can already taste it!

Sometimes the berries are consumed in the tree, while others prefer a more stable surface for consumption.

Unless there’s too much competition …

Giving new meaning to the phrase “Fall Launch.”

Like the Hazelnut Happening, it seems that the event is partly about food but, like all good parties, it’s about much more — mixing and mingling, marking the end of summer, and teaching those fledglings about  group etiquette  — all while making as much noise and mess as possible. Woohoo!

Over the course of a week they seem to be getting the the eastern edge of the dogwood feasting area, so I’m not sure how many more nights they’ll be stopping. I expect there’s probably another important Crow Fest venue in their fall itinerary but, if there is, it must be out my walking range.

Who knows where they’re headed next, but keep your eyes open — it might be your neighbourhood!

 

A continuation of Crow Fest Part One: Hazelnut Happening

 

 

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Crow Fest 22 — Part One

Although my last post was about how miserable the local crows are as they go through their annual moult, don’t feel too bad for them — this season is also their most social and joyful.

Several things come together in the the crow world to make fall time the best time:

  • Parent crows are mightily relieved that their fledglings are (mostly) independent
  • Fledgling crows, like teenagers everywhere, are busting to get out there, meet their peers and show off a little
  • Crows, even the still-moulting ones, look fabulous in the golden fall light and glowing autumn leaves
  • There are feasting opportunities/excuses for crow parties all over town

Crow Fest in our neighbourhood begins with …

The Hazelnut Happening

Around the autumn equinox a couple of local hazelnut trees become ripe, and many crows seem to have this date carefully noted in their social calendar. Hundreds of them, and dozens of intrepid squirrels, show up for the event every year.

A few years back a human bravely tried to harvest their share of nuts, wisely wearing a bicycle helmet as protection from the competition. This year, even more wisely, they seem to have left it all for the wildlife.

Normally the crows fly over our neighbourhood at dusk, headed to the roost a few miles east of here with only a few distant caws to mark their passing.

But it’s reliable as clockwork — the very day the hazelnuts are ready, our normally sedate area becomes an evening Crowstock venue, complete with rousing musical accompaniment.

The cawing is accompanied by the random percussion of nuts hitting the tarmac as crows drop them to break the shells.

Bombs Away!

There are other seasonal delicacies on the menu too …

While the raucous crow chaos is the big story here, as with all big events, it’s made up of so many small and personal sub-plots.

I love to pick out small groups or individuals in the crowd and watch them for awhile, trying to parse out the individual stories.

In the seemingly undistinguishable line of crows on the wires, you can often detect a family group — parents and fledglings, or just couples taking a quiet moment in the midst of it all.

The other night I spotted a personal acquaintance on the wires.

White Wing!

I’ve been worried about the Wings as they’ve not been in their usual spot for most of the summer. As if to confirm this was indeed her Wingship, she came down and landed by my feet …

The party rages on, but still full of individual little crow vignettes.

One young, ambitious and agile crow takes a moment to show off the Cirque du Soleil skill set they’ve been working on.

Look, Ma, only one foot!

I’m an a-crow-bat!!!!

Another independently-minded crow in the crowd decides to add a distinctive yip to the chorus of cawing.

A quiet young crow whiles away the time by catching and playing with one of their own recently moulted underfeathers before it floats away on the evening air …

And so the nightly Hazelnut Happening hurtles on for a few days until, finally, the nuts are devoured and relative quietness returns to the ‘hood.

Don’t worry though — the fall festivities are far from over. It’s just time to move on to the Dogwood Disco up the street.

More on this later …

You might also be interest in:

 

 

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© junehunterimages, 2022. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to junehunterimages with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

The Unbearable Itchiness of Moulting

While this looks rather like a sea urchin, or some other mysterious spiny undersea creature, it’s actually the back of poor Marvin’s neck.

Mr. Walker, as you can see below, has a similar situation going on.

It’s moulting season — that time when our local crows shed their old feathers, worn out by a year of constant use — to grow their very own shiny new wardrobe.

The new and waterproof feathers usually arrive just in time for the winter rain and wind — a miraculous feat, but an itchy and uncomfortable few weeks for the moult participants.

Apart from looking like low budget pirate movie extras, the whole moulting and regeneration process is physically and psychologically taxing for birds. Luckily the fledglings are pretty independent by now, as mom and dad’s supply of patience is even shorter than usual.

The young ones seem to instinctively end the summer-long begging for food just before the moulting crankiness sets in, though I suppose the odd parental peck may also have something to do with it.

Do not mess with this parent …

Those “sea urchin” spikes on the back of Marvin’s back are new feathers poking through the skin.  Curious as to what exactly is going on, I looked up a few articles about new feather growth.

Apparently these little barbs are called “pin feathers” — I imagine because the poor bird feels like a pin cushion. They’re also called “blood feathers” because they have a blood supply and nerves, making them super sensitive and delicate ( empathetic wince.) They look even more spiky because they have a protective keratin* sheath around them.

Even Marvin’s new fledgling, the lovely Lucky, can’t escape the process. You can see here the “reverse mullet” effect of the missing feathers.

 

Lucky, September 2022

Another moulting fashion phenomenon is the “straggly beard” effect caused by the temporary loss of throat feathers.

Mr. Walker, September 2022

For a glossary of crow Fall Fashion terms, see my blog post from 2018 — Red Hot Fall Fashion Tips

Lucky with an Elizabethan style ruff of moulting neck feathers

Moulting usually begins with an overall fluffy, almost glamorous look as first feathers start to float away …

… and ends up like this, with even tiny “eyebrow” and “nostril” feathers going AWOL  …

The remaining feathers are dull, and often display moody shades of sepia, grey, indigo and mauve.

The only real comfort to be found before the new finery comes in is in the loving attention of family members, like Mavis allopreening Marvin in the video below. I like to think she’s simultaneously offering words of encouragement — “no, honestly dear, you don’t really look THAT bad …”

All in all, it’s a trying time of year to be a crow, but luckily they, as a species, seem to have the chutzpah to carry off whatever outlandish look nature sees fit to bestow upon them.

As with all avant-garde fashion statements, confidence is key.

 

 

*Keratin is a lightweight protein. Different types of keratin form everything from feathers to fingernails, hooves to horns.

 

 

 

© junehunterimages, 2022. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to junehunterimages with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

A Crow’s Narrow Escape

This week has started with a hawk heart attack.

Barely awake, and with freshly brewed and highly anticipated coffee in hand, I chanced to look out of our back window to the Hydro pole where Marvin, Mavis and Lucky usually perch.

A bird landed on that pole. “Not a crow,” my sluggish brain remarked as I grabbed the ever-handy camera.

A hawk — the first I’ve seen around here all summer.

I looked at the hawk. The hawk looked at me.

Then he or she bent over to preen their feathers …

At that moment another bird landed on the other end of the pole’s cross beam. A crow — Marvin or Mavis!!

My heart stood still. You can see the hawk, still bent over at the bottom left of the the next photo.

Time stood still.

It seemed as if neither saw the other for a micro-second … and then they did!

The hawk dove at the crow and both tumbled off in a flurry of feathers and claws — stage right and out of view behind the shed roof.

Coffee forgotten, I raced outside, very much expecting to find a scene of carnage in the alley.

Instead I found Marvin and Mavis on the next Hydro pole down doing some stress preening and stamping around.

No sign of the hawk.

Marvin quickly returned to the original pole as if to reclaim it, fluffy moulting feathers and all.

Mavis moved to our roof to continue preening …

… and also keep an eye on the sky …

My coffee was a bit cold after all this, but I hardly needed it — heart thumping as if I’d just downed an entire carafe of espresso.

Phew, crazy crows!!

 

PS In case your mind, as mine did, immediately went to Lucky’s whereabouts, I have seen him, safe and sound, since this incident.

 

 

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Crow Parenting, Summer 2022, Part 4


Removing The Training Wheels

Just look at how grown up and fully crow-like he is already!

It’s been about twelve weeks since I first saw Lucky out of the nest, and he’s come such a long way since those first helpless days.

The first time I saw Lucky, back on June 11

Now that he’s going to the mix and mingle at the roost every night, I can’t help thinking he must be starting to feel the temptation to fly off to see the world with some fellow teen crows.

On Monday and Tuesday of this week I didn’t see or hear him at all, so I was beginning to think that was that for our little family of three.

Marvin and Mavis having a quiet morning to themselves

But no — it seems he’s not quite ready to ditch those training wheels yet. As grown up as he’s looking now, he (or she, just a guess at this point) is wise enough to know he’s still safer when mom and dad have his back.

In the photo below, Lucky looks just like a fully independent crow coming for snacks, but further investigation reveals a watchful mom, waiting in the wings in case of emergency.

I think she’s also making sure he’s following all the protocols he’s been taught over the past few weeks:

  • look left, look right, look up, look down, look left again and right again and up again, etc.before taking a moment to grab a snack … and repeat
  • grab the highest value snack items first in case this is your only chance
  • dunk snacks in water to add hydration boost
  • pack beak and gullet with maximum efficiency before take off

Nice work, but remember, look left, right, up …

Efficient snack packing starts with careful planning

I noticed that the constant begging (feed me, feed me, feed me) sounds that filled the air all summer have recently ceased.

The photo below, taken on August 18, was the last time I witnessed Lucky begging from his parents — and you can see the somewhat cynical and unobliging look he’s receiving in response.

He still calls for his parents, but it’s more of an “I’m here. Are you there?” type of communication.

From a distance, Lucky looks just like a grown up crow.

His eyes are no longer grey or blue — they’re now close to the same brown as an adult crow.

The pink gape at the side of his mouth is now quite subtle when his beak’s closed.

Still goofy, but then aren’t all crows, regardless of maturity?

However, as soon as he opens his mouth, especially when the sun hits it, that pink gape lights up like a stained glass window!

His mouth HAS been open a lot this week — not for begging purposes, but for keeping cool in the ongoing hot weather.

Aside from expelling heat via the open beak, he also sits with his wings held out from his body to let the heat out that way too, and catch any hint of a cooling breeze — just like mom and dad showed him.

I have so many photographs of Lucky now — partly because he’s so darn photogenic and partly because there are weirdly few other bird models around at the moment. That’s another, rather anxious, story for another day.

Suffice to say, at this point I have so many pictures of Lucky, he could easily have a calendar all to himself.

I have to stop and watch and photograph every time I spot him because I can’t shake the feeling that each time might be the last.

Of course, I’d be so thrilled if Lucky turned out to be one of those fledglings that sticks with mom and dad to help out and learn the ropes of nesting next year, but I can hardly bring myself to hope for that much.

Any day now he could decide to take off to complete his crow-ducation at a faraway institute of corvid higher learning.

I just hope he’ll remember to look left, right, up, down etc and to always take the good bits first.

 

 

 

For more Lucky:

 

 

© junehunterimages, 2022. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to junehunterimages with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

7 Reasons Why You Need a City Crow Calendar

I’m hoping to pick up the 2023 City Crow Calendar from the printer in the next couple of days — and then will begin the mad flurry of mailing out all the pre-ordered copies.

In the calm before the storm, I’ve been thinking of the reasons why you, or someone you love, might find you really need one … if you haven’t already booked your copy, that is.

Like all calendars, they’re handy for jotting down birthdays and dentist appointments and the usual day to day stuff, but here are a few more reasons to consider dedicating some precious wall space to a City Crow Calendar.

If you’ve owned one of my earlier versions, you may have thought of other uses, so if you have suggestions (polite ones only, please!) send them to me and I’ll write a sequel to this post!

FOLLOW THE SEASONS CROW-WISE

Sometimes, living in the city, you start to recognize the passing of the seasons only by the changing nature of the items on display in local shops, or in our social media feeds (back to school items … must be July, Halloween décor … what, August already?)

I like to think that City Crow Calendar owners will:

(a) be inclined to get outside to see what their own local crows are up to, and thus witness first hand what the sky and vegetation have to say, and

(b)  start to see the crows themselves as messengers of seasonal change.

Crow seen with sticks in their beaks … aha, must be the beginning of nesting season.

Croaking duck-like sounds, followed by slightly strangled cries of ecstasy … obviously summertime with crow parents feeding their insatiable fledglings!

Raucous gangs of crows roaming the neighbourhood … yup, it’s the beginning of fall and the crow parents are feeling their first freedom since nesting season started, and the fledglings are now teenagers meeting other teenagers, and the suburban trees are dripping with fruit and nuts — it’s party-time!!!



GET IN TUNE WITH THE MOON

When everyone is saying “that moon looks amazing — is it a full moon?” you will be able to answer sagely “not quite, but tomorrow night will be the Full Crow Moon” and your friends will be duly impressed by your one-ness with the universe.

(Really, you just had a quick look at your City Crow Calendar, but I won’t say anything if you don’t. )


BE AN URBAN NATURE ENTHUSIAST

There are any number of calendars you can own that will show you breath taking scenery on the coast, in the mountains or in the deep woods. The City Crow Calendar (the hint is in the name) is specially designed for those of us who, for one reason or another, spend most of our time in the urban jungle.
It’s a daily reminder that you don’t have to wait and wait until you can finally get out of town to experience really being in tune with Nature  — you can find those moments any day, any time by just going outside (or even just looking out of your window) and checking in on what your fellow city dwellers, the crows, are up to now.

Of course, in addition to the calendar, you can also subscribe to this blog, and/or follow me on social media for regular reminders on the wonders of urban nature.

 

 


CONVINCE THE “CROW CAUTIOUS”

We all have at least one friend who has not yet realized (poor benighted soul) how amazing crows are, and how worthy of watching every single day.

Buy them a City Crow Calendar and see if it can sway them.

It HAS been known to happen!


ENHANCE YOUR COCKTAIL PARTY CONVERSATION

Now that people are starting to attend social gatherings again, it’s time to dust off those small talk skills. Looking for a conversation opener?

Try, something like this …

“Did you know that if you see a crow in springtime with white goop on their beak it’s probably because they’ve been removing their offsprings’ fecal sacs from the nest?”

Just watch those jaws drop!


MAKE SOME NEW FRIENDS

If, for some inexplicable reason, the party poop chatter doesn’t earn you a mass of new human friends, you can always be inspired by the City Crow Calendar to get out there and get to know some of your corvid neighbours on a personal level.

Like Marvin here, most local crows will at least pretend to be impressed by your wit and wisdom if you happen to have one or two peanuts in your pocket.


WALLPAPER WITH CROWS

Of course, I LOVE IT when people buy my signed crow prints as it keeps the wolf from the door, but I’m also happy to know that City Crow Calendar owners don’t usually chuck their copies out at the end of the year, but keep them — and sometimes put the pictures up around the house.

If you’d been collecting my calendars from the beginning, you’d have enough crow portraits by now to wallpaper a small room!!!

 

 

© junehunterimages, 2022. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to junehunterimages with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Crow Parenting, Summer 2022 Part 3

Family life with a pre-teen. I think I remember those days myself.

One minute they’re all grown up and don’t need their parents AT ALL, next — they just need a snuggle and some comfort food.

At least, when I was raising my kids, I didn’t have moulting to deal with as well.

A moulting crow is a cranky crow, and the whole family is starting that process now.

At least the fledgling can entertain himself with his own escaping feathers

At the same time, Marvin and Mavis are dealing with a pre-teen (Lucky) who is going through the two steps forward, three steps back process of learning to feed himself.

Lucky can definitely come and get his own peanuts from our deck. He has demonstrated prowess (well, competence, at least)  in this field.

At first he’d just get one peanut and then wonder what exactly to do with it, but now he’s on to the advanced level of stuffing his gullet to capacity before flying away and hiding some for later, just like mom and dad do.

Other advanced skills include perching on the water bowl and dipping snacks to moisten them.

For most of the day, the family is off on adventures around the neighbourhood, while Marvin and Mavis are presumably teaching Lucky the skills needed to grab more “in the wild” food.

Yet several times a day I still hear Lucky making his begging calls, and every once in a while see one of the parents wavering in their determination to get him self sufficient by stuffing a snack into his waiting beak.

More often the scenario plays out like this …

… and even …

 

 

 

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© junehunterimages, 2022. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to junehunterimages with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.