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.”

 

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© 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.

Mr Walker Strides On

Mr. Walker is number four in my City Crow Stories book of crow characters — and his life  seems to be rambling on much as it has in previous years.

He and his mate Wanda wait for the dog and I each morning. If Mr. W is busy in the alleyway checking out the bins, Wanda will let him know it’s time.

Time to drop whatever he’s up to and get himself into position for the daily gallop alongside the “bringers of the peanuts” to the sacred spot at the foot of the massive cherry tree.

Here he is in action this very morning — showing fine promenading form once he gets neck and neck with Geordie, the dog …

As per usual, he strides/ambles/scampers alongside Geordie, waits for him to have the customary sniff at his tree, and then up onto his pedestal for the peanut payoff.

As is also routine, Wanda, having arrived at the tree via air (I’ve never seen her lower herself to pedestrian pastimes), drops down from the branches above to get in first dibs.

Mr. Walker this morning, looking as suave as ever

I wrote last summer about the Walkers’ early nesting failure and, though they did seem to be working on a second nest, I think the stress of another hot dry summer led them to just give up in order to concentrate on keeping themselves fed and hydrated.

It’s a pretty exhausting business raising fledglings, as seen in the book with pictures from 2021 when they raised two of them

They went AWOL for the latter part of the summer and imagined them just kicking back in the shade, tiny sunglasses balanced on their beaks, waiting for the cooler weather. Far too hot for any jogging, even for peanuts.

And, indeed, by fall they were back at the appointed spot — Mr. Walker ready, willing and eager to get back into training for the peanut Olympics.

On this occasion, for once, he beat Wanda to the goodies!

The simple reliability of this little daily ritual is strangely comforting — and Mr. Walker’s enthusiastic perambulation technique always brings a smile.

 

See also:  Meet The Walkers (2020)

 

 

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© 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

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.