Mr. Bongo Crow and Ms. Bella Crow are proud to announce that they have fledglings!
Quite a few, it turns out …
I heard some baby burbling coming from the trees on the morning walk earlier this week, but it wasn’t until lunchtime that I spotted the first one.
There is honestly nothing I find more adorable than the grumpy little face of a newly fledged crow — those blue eyes and the down-turned little pink mouth edges.
Baby, you may notice, was having a bit of a hard time swallowing the peanut bits that mum or dad had just crammed into that little pink beak.
There was more soft quacking coming from the upper tree branches, so I assumed there was at least one more up there.
That evening we were amazed to see one of the youngsters actually doing a bit of rudimentary flapping from tree to tree. The flying proficiency leads me to believe that Bongo and Bella have been doing a top notch job of keeping their little family well hidden and protected for at least a week to get them to this “off the ground” state.
You can see from the view of a pop-up wing (below), that they’re still not fully developed. Early flying efforts are a challenging combination of mechanical issues and inexperience!
The last thing we saw before going home that night was either Bongo on Bella on sentinel duty atop the school’s flagpole — scouring the 360 degree horizon for potential danger...
First-fledgling time is a sort of Christmas-Morning-With-High- Anxiety experience for me, ridiculous as that may be. Couldn’t get to sleep the next night and I was awake and out of the house before 6 am.
In spite of wandering their block for a while, I saw only mom and dad — still on guard duty.
Bongo and Bella came down for peanuts, but didn’t take them to feed babies breakfast — just stashed them for later use.
The lunchtime walk was looking similarly fledgling-free until I decided to make one more pass (poor Geordie) and heard a little quack. Looked up and spotted baby number one.
I could see another shape up there and moved around to get a view of what I thought would be baby number two. Surprise, surprise — TWO more ridiculously cute little figures perched together!
Fledgling one having a bit of a wing stretch …
Fledglings two and three, with three doing some more toe flexing …
I spent quite a while admiring the three of them until my neck got too kinked from pointing the camera straight up. All the while, proud dad Bongo kept me company down below.
He even made the official birth-bong announcement …
Yes, that WAS four bongs.
There was indeed a fourth fledging, but he or she didn’t make it. I found a detached immature crow wing on the ground yesterday, so the unlucky one must have fallen victim to a raccoon or cat.
The surviving three are far from out of the woods. Only 50% of crow fledglings survive to the end of their first year and I suspect that number might be higher given the extra challenges presented by the hot dry summers of recent years.
Bongo and Bella are not registered for baby gifts, but they did have a couple of small requests in lieu:
- Please put water out so that parent birds can soak food for the fledglings, and those still in the nest, to keep them hydrated. It’s only May and already, here in usually wet Vancouver, there is no trace of puddle water and the dirt is too packed to dig up worms. Keep changing the water throughout the day and keep the bowl clean to stop the spread of diseases.
- If you must have an outdoor cat, please keep him/her indoors during fledgling season. To you, your cat is “Fluffy Pudding-kins.” To crow (and all bird) parents he or she is “Harbinger of Doom/Destroyer of Worlds.”
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