The Walkers’ Progress

I know many of you have been waiting for news on the Walkers since Mr. W injured his eye back in April. Sorry for the delayed update — there’s been a lot going on in both my crow and human worlds, so I’ve acquired a backlog of crow and fledgling info.

But let’s start with the Walkers, as they are in a bit of a cliffhanger situation.

Pre-eye injury, everything was full steam ahead for Nesting Season 2023. They’d  selected what seemed to be an ideal nesting spot, and Wanda was ready to lay those eggs.

Post-eye injury, there was nothing for the Walkers to do but put the nesting process on hold. There were a couple of worrying weeks when Mr. W sat, very still and very quiet. He stayed in high branches or up on wires as Wanda kept an eye (as it were) on him.

Wanda keeps watch over Mr. W, April 30

His eye still isn’t back to normal, and I’m not sure it will completely heal. At least it didn’t get infected and, in classic crow fashion, he’s learning to adapt.

Sometimes he has the injured eye completely closed — usually when he’s more relaxed and on a higher, safer perch. When he’s on the ground and in a “high alert” situation, he can, and does, open the injured eye enough to give himself a more complete view.

As I mentioned in earlier posts, Wanda is completely blind one eye, yet she’s managed to adapt and go about her crow business pretty much as normal, so I’m hoping the same will be true for her mate. Wanda is blind in her right eye, while Mr. Walker injured his left, so between them, they have panorama vision.

The other good news is that nesting is now very much back on the agenda. Only a couple of weeks after the injury, the Walkers were refreshing the furniture in the original nest site.

Mr. Walker was, once again, feeding Wanda when she begged for food.

As was pointed out when I posted this photo on social media, you can see another possible way Mr. Walker injured that eye back in April. Wanda, with her one functioning eye, perhaps doesn’t have the best depth perception for performing this delicate feeding dance.

By mid-May, Wanda was sitting on the nest again.

Wanda sitting on the nest, May 17

The once perfect-seeming nest site is now my main causes for anxiety for the Walkers.

When they first chose this spot way back in March, it looked ideal — a covered chimney with a nice little roof for shelter from rain and sun, camouflage from passing eagles and too high for easy racoon access. Another bonus was the quiet, empty lot next door.

If not for the unforeseen delay in April, everything would have gone much more smoothly.

As it is, just as Wanda started sitting on the nest, construction started next door. Naturally, there’s been a lot of hammering and sawing; the house is going up fast. I don’t think the Walkers are particularly worried about the noise, but I’ve been nervously watching to see what happens as the builders get right up next to the nest.

Right now the workers are just a bit above the nest as they work on roof assembly. When they selected this spot back in March, I’m sure half a dozen humans banging around at eye level all day long was not something the Walkers had in mind. Somewhat miraculously, crows and construction crew seem to be co-existing — so far.

Earlier this week I was able to spot at least two little beaks pointing up to be fed. Fledglings in the nest really do look a lot like those ceramic pie vents made in the shape of blackbirds.

Mr Walker watches over the nest from a nearby washing line

The Walkers are now almost a month behind the neighbours (Bongo and Bella on one side, and the Wings to the other) in the nesting game. Both other families have very mobile fledglings who don’t yet know about territorial boundaries and keep flapping too close for comfort the Walkers’ nest. This, of course, leads to a lot of noisy inter-crow -family squabbling.

From the activity in the nest now, it looks like those hatchlings will become fledglings any day now. They have to get down from that chimney and avoid the myriad fledgling’s-bane hazards out there; raccoons, cats, cars, eagles, other crows, dogs, flying accidents … it’s amazing any of them make it, really.

I’m hoping they exit the nest during a break in construction. Evert time I see them, I advise the Walkers to try keeping those babies in the nest until the weekend.


Every crow parent works long and hard to get their offspring out into the world, but the Walkers have certainly faced and overcome more than their share of hurdles this spring.

Keeping fingers and toes crossed for whoever is up in that nest to at least make it out of the chimney and on to the next set of fledgling challenges.

For more on The Walkers:




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Late Summer Surprise

2019 has been a rough year for fledgling crows and their parents. Marvin and Mavis had three babies up in the nest one day, and then the local bald eagle swooped by and suddenly there were none.

Mr. and Mrs. Pants, Whitewing and her mate, the Kaslo and the Napier crows were all fledgling-less by the time I got back from my UK trip in June.

Mabel and Gus, however (see most recent post) bucked the trend by successfully raising three babies, born in June some time. Their territory has been the neighbourhood nexus of juvenile crow begging sounds this summer. Both parents are looking a bit exhausted at this point and looking forward, I’m sure, to the young ones becoming fully independent any day now.

Mavis and the Terrible Trio back in early August.

The young ones still occasionally beg for food, but you can tell their hearts aren’t really in it. Mabel and Gus are pretty much ignoring their pleas now — encouraging them to become self-sufficient little urban foragers. The neighbourhood was becoming quiet.

So imagine my surprise when, only last week — well into the second half of August — there was a brand now source of begging sounds. It was the tentative call of quite a young juvenile crow. It took a while to spot her*, but there she was, way up in a sycamore maple, softly quorking …

… and playing with leaves.

It was on a corner I pass by at least once a day walking the dog, and one where I don’t usually see any crows. It’s a buffer zone between two crow territories (the Slocan trio and the Firehall Family) and is generally crow-free. I’m not sure where this little family came from, although I suspect they might be an offshoot of the Firehall gang (for reference see: A Puzzlement of Crows.)

She isn’t a brand new fledgling. She can already fly reasonably well and her eyes have transitioned from the just-out-of-the-nest bright blue, to the grey colour that comes next. But she is obviously several weeks younger than Mabel’s brood and still very much dependant on her two parents. Her beak is still rosy pink at the sides, marking the bright pink inner mouth (gape) that makes such a good target for the parents to deliver food to. Over and over again.

All of this begging and feeding is very usual, but not in late August. So what happened?

I imagine these parents lost their first batch of fledglings to one or more of the usual disasters (eagle, hawk, raven, racoon, car, cat, flying mishap, etc.) quite late in the first go-round, and decided to give it a second try. I can only imagine how much hard work went into the repeat project.

If it had been one of the recent summers, which have been hot and bone dry, I don’t think they’d have managed to find enough food and liquid for the baby so late in the season, but this year has luckily been a bit damper. I’m not sure where they kept her, safe and secret, until I first saw her last week, but they did an excellent job.

Our neighbourhood newcomer has the benefit of two parents devoted to her welfare, but she’s going to have to be a fast learner to catch up with the older juveniles and be able to join them all at the safety of the Still Creek Roost as the nights start to draw in.

She’s a lot noisier now than when I first spotted her last week. I can hear her from our garden (a couple of blocks away) calling to be fed. That in itself can be a bit of a predator-attracting risk when your’e the only noisy one around.


Luckily she does seem to be a quick study. While she still needs her parents to break food into tiny pieces for her, she’s already mimicking their food caching strategies.

Here she’s hiding a peanut that was too big for her to eat under a bit of moss. She’s enrolled in the accelerated Being An Adult Crow class, while still a baby.

She’s got all the curiosity needed to gather important information about this new world of hers. What is, and is not, edible is something that takes a while to figure out.

Now that’s one giant berry …

(… so if you find your Christmas light a bit sticky this year …)

She’s beaten the odds to have made it this far, so here’s hoping she makes it through the next few risky weeks and graduates from her Crow Adulting 101 class with flying colours.

May your late summer be full of nice surprises too!


*I’m referring to this young crow as “her” fairly randomly as, of course, at this point I have no way of knowing her gender. 

Crow Calligraphy

Nest Building Triptych

It’s that time of year again.

Most of the local crows seem to have suddenly become enrolled in some sort of corvid witness protection program.

The normally gregarious garden visitors, and dog-walk-followers, are suddenly either absent altogether, or shifty and secretive.

It’s nesting time, and I’m resigned to not seeing so much of Marvin and Mavis and the others until later in the summer when, if we’re lucky, they’ll come back to show off their offspring.

But I don’t give up on watching crows for these few months.

Instead I watch for the calligraphy in the sky.

Big Twig

The crows start to exist in my consciousness as quick brushstrokes, furtively flitting by with tell-tale beak attachments.

The latest cargo for the nest in the poplar trees has been grass, leading me to believe that we’re at the finishing, soft furnishings, stage of construction.

Crow with Soft Furnishings for Nest

There are only a few short days to gather clues as to who’s nesting where. Just now, the trees aren’t quite leafed out, and the nests under construction are still visible.

But the crows are smart and have tactics to confuse.

I believe it’s Eric and Clara who are building in the poplars and  they have at least two nests on the go. I imagine they will decide which of the two to inhabit (or perhaps they have a third that I haven’t spotted at all) once the leaves give them full camouflage.

It’s a bit of a mystery/thriller, illustrated with simple silhouettes.



There are characters other than crows in this year’s storyline. Ravens have decided to try the charms of city living in our neighbourhood this year.

Raven Call in Poplars


I’m thrilled. The crows are considerably less happy. Ravens will steal eggs from the their nests, so they’re on the “naughty” list, along with eagles, hawks, racoons etc.

As such they are mobbed relentlessly, making for a very busy crow spring.

Not only must nests be built – but ravens must be energetically harassed from dawn to dusk.

Raven Mobbed by Crows

Sometimes, it all just gets too much for the tired corvids.

One day last week I watched this raven in a tree, surrounded for about twenty minutes by a harmonious crowd of crows.

One crow even seemed to getting very close – perhaps trying for a diplomatic detente.

Raven Crow Detente

Note: Video follows, so if you’re reading this in email format, click HERE to go to the blog so that you can see the video.

For a moment it seemed that a crow/raven understanding might be reached …

… but talks broke off and hostilities resumed. I guess the crows were just taking a much-needed breather.


So, at this time of year, keep an eye on the sky for calligraphic messages from the crow world. You  might just learn where it’s going to be best to avoid (or at least to use an umbrella when walking by) later in the season.

See Dive Bombed by Crows! for more on this …

Twig Gift