Always Something New …

After over ten years of watching crows every day you sometimes think perhaps you’ve seen it all, but no — they always have something else amazing up those feathery sleeves.

I’ve written before about the crow (and squirrel) festival we have at the end of our street when a combination of walnut, hazelnut and chestnut trees start producing their harvest. Hundreds of crows stop by on the way to the roost in the evening and have big noisy get-togethers while feasting on the bounty. This usually starts in September.

It’s only August, of course, but it’s been so hot and dry that the trees are dropping fruit early. Bongo and Bella are anxious to get in on the action on their home turf, so I’ve seen them a few times now dropping walnuts, still in the green husks, from the hydro wires onto the road to try and break them.

Anyway, there was either Bongo or Bella dropping a nut this morning when one of the fledglings came over to have a look at what mom or dad was pecking at.

Instead of begging for a taste, they crouched down and started making the rattle call.

The rattle call continued as they went on to adopt a fully prostrate pose in the middle of the road. I’m not sure if they were addressing this display to the parent crow or the walnut.

Bongo or Bella decided to leave the fledgling to their walnut-worship and sauntered off.

Left alone with the prize, the fledging took a few investigatory pecks and also wandered off.

Lessons no doubt learned. But what exactly that lesson was, I’d love to know.

 

More on Bongo and Bella and the kids tomorrow …

 

 

 

 

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© 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.

 

 

Sounds of Springtime

It can be a bit confusing to hear the sounds of fledgling crows begging loudly for food as early as April.

We’re still weeks away from the excitement of the first fledgling appearances — so what’s going on?

You’re hearing the sound of female crows begging food from their mates. They sound just like hungry fledglings and also adopt the classic begging pose — wings out, head lowered.

It’s just another part of the nesting dance. The construction of the nest is probably complete and the female is getting ready to lay eggs, but first she needs to remind her mate that she, just like the helpless fledgling she’s mimicking, is going to be relying on him for food soon.

The Walkers have been displaying this behaviour for a week or so now.

Mr Walker feeding his mate, Wanda

Shortly before laying eggs the female crow loses feathers on a patch of her underside so that her body heat will pass to the eggs without any feathery insulation getting in the way. This is called a brood patch — and only the mother crow has one — so for two to three weeks it’s her job to sit on the nest and incubate the precious eggs, while her mate is responsible for guarding the nest and keeping her fed. If he fails, she will be brooding in more way than one …

Wanda (blind in one eye) in a cherry tree

Wanda is starting to insist that Mr. Walker feed her, even when she’s got a beak full of food already,  just to jog his crow brain into remembering his coming duties.

Mr. Walker, dependable father to be

Here’s a little phone video series of the current daily routine.

Part one: As always, Mr. Walker dashes along beside us. At the moment his route is decorated with drifts of pink snow from fallen cherry blossom petals.

Part two: As usual, Wanda arrives at the peanut destination first (having come via air travel) and gets first dibs on the snacks.

Part three: in spite of having more than her share of peanuts, Wanda insists that Mr. W feeds her some of his. He gallantly obliges.

The Walkers at Home

Let’s hope the Walkers have a successful season. Like many of the local crows, their 2022 nesting efforts went unrewarded, so a couple of new little Walkers this year would be extra nice.

Junior Walkers 2021

Mr Walker, reporting for parental duty

 

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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

Mabel: A Requiem

Her Mabelness was the third crow in the City Crow Stories.

And now she is the hardest one to write an update about.

Those of you who have been following me for a while may have noticed I haven’t posted anything about her for a long while. Partly I kept hoping she’d reappear, and partly I was reluctant to share more bad news, however small, with the world seemingly awash in the stuff.

Anyway — Mabel was the crow I’ve known the longest, dating back to when she and George Brokenbeak were our “house crows.” She’s certainly the crow I’ve written the most about, following the her trials and tribulations with George Brokenbeak , and her survival and thriving after the loss of her mate.

George and Mabel’s love story is one of my most popular posts, and was even “stolen” and mis-told in a viral post that has been circulating for years.

Last spring Mabel seemed hale and hearty and preparing for another nesting season with her new mate. I took the next photograph of her April last year, not knowing it would be the last time I’d see her.

When she vanished for a few weeks, I didn’t worry at all as it’s normal for female crows to seemingly go AWOL for about three weeks as they sit quietly on the eggs in the nest.

But then May rolled around, and then June. The summer passed by with no sign of Mabel. What happened is a mystery and I just have to assume she went to join the great roost in the sky, where perhaps she’s reunited with George at last.

I still miss Mabel, the Queen of  Frazzled — capable of looking dishevelled and yet regal all at once …

Apart from being a devoted mate to George, she was a pretty darned amazing parent.
Here are some of my favourite and oh-so relatable Mabel-being-a-mom moments from years gone by …

The classic  and ever-popular “Art of Parenting” shot

A slight look of panic in Mabel’s one good eye as the brood descends

So hard to get a moment of peace and quiet …

I will especially miss Mabel in the next couple of weeks when the pink plum blossoms appear on the local street trees.

The plum tree branches were always a favourite material of hers for nest construction. It was Mabel who was the model for the rather lovely and hopeful moment captured in Sky Messenger as she flew over me trailing a long garland for the nest.

Mabel was perhaps most at home upon her throne, inherited from George — a specific rusty yellow ring holding the chain at the entrance to the local school’s parking lot.

For a long time, only Mabel was allowed to perch there.

I noticed in the year before she disappeared that she’d occasionally permit her favourite offspring to take a turn. Perhaps she knew they needed to practice that regal pose.

I assume that one of the crow couple who took over Mabel’s corner includes one of those favoured heirs.

They’re certainly carrying on the Mabel tradition of confidence and sense of place.

One of the new pair is prone to making a beeping noise, something like heavy machinery backing up. So talented!

So here I present Mabel’s descendants, exalted inheritors of the golden ring — Beeper and Bopper.

More crow updates coming soon …

See also:

For a history of George and Mabel’s amazing lives:

 

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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.