The Crow Summer of 2023

Bongo and Bella Edition

Bongo and Bella are both looking pretty scruffy these days.

Like all crow parents, they’re dealing with the late summer trifecta of ongoing drought, moulting season and teenagers.

There has been no bonging lately, so it’s impossible for me tell, for now, who of the couple is Bongo and who is Bella.

Below: Bongo in the early summer, making his signature call. It seems to be connected to the early months of nesting and fledgling rearing as he seems to stop doing it by mid-July.

Both Bongo and Bella started moulting in July this year. From the crows I watch, it looks as if the crows that fledged their babies earlier in the year also start moulting earlier, as if the whole process is a linked timeline.

Or … it could just be that raising crow babies is so stressful it makes your feathers fall out.

One of the couple started losing some head feathers a few weeks ago …

General bits of feathers are making their escape

This morning silhouette shows the typical late summer “hipster beard” as throat feathers thin out

Certainly they both look as though they could use a week at a spa and, if such a thing existed, they have earned a spot.

Cue the daydream about what amenities a crow spa would offer … nice muddy puddles, an unsecured garbage bin buffet, unlimited preening time, no demanding fledglings allowed …

I digress; but I’m pretty sure most adult crows are engaged in similar relaxation reveries at this point in the breeding season.

Bongo and Bella started out in late May with four fledglings. The first one I didn’t even see — only a bit of a wing, probably a casualty of the local raccoon family or one of the outdoor cats.

There were three babies through early June but down to two by the end of the month.

By a combination of good luck and endless hard work, they seem to have kept the other two alive to reach teenager-hood.  One of them even seems to have some of Bongo’s vocal virtuosity!

Here are a few photos of the Bongo siblings learning the important “what’s food and what isn’t” lesson through the long hot summer.

Early summer — just waiting for food delivery from mom and dad

Rose petals? More of a garnish than a main dish.

Empty peanut shell? Close, but nope.

Plastic bag? Hard no.

Squished orange? Some juicy bits yet, so yes!

Unripe walnut hus? A bit too much work.

Mom or Dad shows how it’s done with a delicious bit of discarded watermelon

Only a few more weeks to go, thinks Bongo, and Crow Spa here we come!


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