Bongo News

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post about the Walkers, there has been some friction on the Bongo-Walker borderline.

Bella and Bongo’s fledglings are very mobile now and prone to showing off their new flying prowess by cruising all over the neighbourhood, often landing too close to the chimney nest for the Walkers’ comfort.

Much parental cawing ensues.

Bongo and Bella staring down the Walkers after a bit of a territorial conflict yesterday …

In the next video, you will note that Bella makes a more “normal” rattle call and Bongo chimes in with his signature bong call. I assume that the “bong” is his own idiosyncratic interpretation of “rattle.” Anyway, Bella gives him quite the look afterwards — whether admiring, or confused, it’s hard to say …


Someone asked me if I thought any of Bongo’s fledglings might take after him, bonging-wise. I don’t know how these things are passed on, but I do know that one of the fledglings is already showing signs of being a vocal virtuoso.

You can see that this one has a lot to say and is already starting to make the bowing motion that is part of the overall rattle/bong performance.

Clearly, this one is the chatterbox of the family!

The Bongo clan seems now to be down to two fledglings. It’s hard to be certain with them flying around so much. Up until yesterday evening when these videos were taken, I was almost sure there was only one — so number three could potentially still be out there flying around the neighbourhood.

As you can see, the Bongettes are showing signs of becoming teen crows. Their blue eyes are now a lovely soft grey. Their parents are already showing them how to pick up their own food, rather than always shovelling it into their beaks via the direct deposit method.

Grey eyes instead of blue, but the pink beak colouring will last all summer and sometimes longer.

I’ve had an amazing couple of weeks following the progress of the Bongo-Bella babies and have amassed quite a collection of photos.

One of my favourite phases was the rose garden period where flowery garden fences seemed to be their preferred hangouts. Their eyes were still blue at that point.

The next image — in which  baby crowses supposes that roses is … food?  — is such a favourite that I made it into a print for my shop.

Rose Garden

All baby crows spend a whole summer sampling all manner of things — wood chips, moss, bits of paper, their own feathers — trying to figure out the all- important “Is It Food Or Is It Not Food?” question. I imagine rose petals could fall tantalizingly between categories.

I’ve also made a set of Baby Crow postcards, some of which feature the Bongo babies (along with some of White Wing’s and others in the neighbourhood this spring.)

Never a dull moment at this time of year. I’ve noticed both the Wings and the Bongos chasing squirrels up and down trees at a rate that could have them auditioning for the next movie in the Fast and Furious franchise. On the other hand, I also noticed this squirrel chasing some of Bongo and Bella’s fledglings; hard to say if with malevolent purpose or just for fun.

Possibly a juvenile squirrel messing around with a fledgling crow — a full mischief bundle!

It’s a tiring time of year for crow parents, leaving so little time for Bongo’s operatic offerings, but hopefully, he is managing to pass along some of that talent to the next generation of potentially bonging crows.

Who knows, maybe they’ll go in their own direction and take up pinging or chicken impersonations like the crow up the road. Each crow must find their unique path to creative fulfilment, after all.

I leave the last word to this vocal up and comer …



For more on Bongo and Bella:

Bongo and Bella’s Announcement

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!

Look at those pristine little feet. It must feel good to have a little toe stretch while learning how to cling on to branches — an important new skill.

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.”



© junehunterimages, 2023. 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.

Bongo The Busker

Since my old friend Mabel disappeared a year ago, her corner and the prized “ring of authority” have been inherited by a new pair of crows, Bongo and his mate, Bella.

Bella is currently keeping a low profile while sitting on the nest.

Bongo, it transpires, is a musical performer — a local vocal virtuoso.

It was around this time last year when he first stopped me in my tracks. Perhaps he felt that, since he wasn’t Mabel, he was going to have to go the extra mile to get my attention …

I’ve been trying to figure out what prompts Bongo’s vocal performances.

Things I have noticed:

  • they are certainly not a daily occurrence
  • they seem to be saved for the spring nesting season
  • it often seems to be raining (but that could be more to do with nesting season occurring in typically wet spring Vancouver weather)

Here is one recent and especially impassioned rendition …

In this video there are calls from other crows that he pauses to listen to.

On most other occasions he waits for a quiet moment and seems to be putting on a concert especially for me.

It could be that he has mistaken me for a visiting impresario, and is hoping for a  Broadway breakthrough. More likely — he’s cleverly deduced that a short recitation results in a few more peanuts.

He certainly puts a lot of effort into his performances — tail  and wings outspread like a maestro fanning out his tailcoat for dramatic impact. A deep ceremonial bow is also part of the performance.

What does it all mean? Is he mimicking something, or is he interpreting the world through song? Is he a crow poet … a bird bard?

Each time I hear him I come up with new ideas.

Is he doing his impression of:

  • the back-up beeping of heavy machinery?
  • the distant “boing” of a dinner gong? (not that this is really a “dinner gong” sort of neighbourhood …)
  • a cat’s plaintive miaowing?

Or is he simply expressing his feelings with a heartfelt “wow” at all the wonders of the world?

When I’ve posted his calls on social media, a lot of people fall squarely into the “sounds just like a  cat” camp. Somehow I’m not quite convinced, as Bongo’s “bongs” don’t sound quite like our cat, Edgar, whose miaows are a considerably more sustained and dramatic.

But that might just be Edgar.

The following video of White Wing (also captured during nesting season) has her making a series of short “barks” followed by a much more convincing, soulful cat and Edgar-like miaow/yowl.

Another thing to note about the Songs of Bongo are that, although soft sounding, they travel far amid the other chaotic city sounds. Rather like a raven, Bongo has excellent projection.

Anyway, Bongo has become one of my favourite crows — and not just because of his troubadour skills. He’s an engaging model and is being a conscientious dad by staying close to his corner and keeping an eye on Bella and the nest.

Bongo is the subject of one of my latest print images, Rust and Crow, in which he manages to look all at once fierce, elegant and (like his forbear Mabel) ever so slightly frazzled — a combination that only crows seem able to pull off perfectly.

I shall give the last, short word to Bongo, who sometimes gives single-bong recitals.
Brief, yet full of meaning …





© junehunterimages, 2023. 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.