City Crow Stories … A Year On

These last three years have seen time moving at a peculiar pace. Individual days have seemed very long , yet somehow entire years have rushed past like a river in flood.

Perhaps that’s just me. Nevertheless, it seems both a very long time ago and also “only yesterday” that I started on my little book, City Crow Stories. After much hooing and hawing (literary terms) about what exactly to write about, I decided to try and let the crows tell their own tales by profiling seven of my local crowquaintances.

As a crow watcher, you can never get too complacent. One day you think you know exactly who’s who on the local crow scene and the next day you go out for the daily catchup only to find that the crow chess pieces have moved. It’s a new game and a new puzzle.

Time now, I think, for some updates on The Magnificent Seven I wrote about — and what I do and don’t know about them all a year on.

Starting today with …


Marvin and Mavis were the first two crows profiled in the book.

Until last fall I’d see them every day in my garden — this summer bringing with them their fledgling, Lucky.

I wrote extensively about their busy summer of parenting in the Crow Parenting series.

Lucky, August 2022

To my great happiness, Lucky has stayed with Marvin and Mavis over the winter. This much I know!

Marvin, Lucky and Mavis on a neighbour’s roof last week.

It used to be very clear that, if there were crows in the garden, those crows would be Marvin and Mavis. Due to a local population shift, things are not longer quite so easy.

When Marvin and Mavis lost “their” stand of poplar trees 2020, they had to go slightly further afield to find safe nesting sites. They tried the tree across the alley from us several years ago, twice, but lost the nests both times to racoons. They refuse to try that tree again.

Not so these two newcomers to the ‘hood …

The new crows had better luck and managed to raise one fledgling, in spite of the raccoon raids.

Naturally, they now think our back yard is theirs too.

I had to curtail the daily peanut offerings on the back deck as they were in danger of casing  crow riots. The newcomer crows cannot keep a secret, and crows from the other end of the block have started keeping a close eye on things and now zoom in whenever I open the back door.

One of the new crow neighbours

Apart from the general racket, I was worried that some crow was going to get hurt in the competitive dive bombing that would ensue as soon as a single peanut appeared.

Marvin, as often seen these days, in fierce “head feathers up” mode to try and deter the interlopers

On snowy days I still put out some provisions for the raucous gang, but mostly I now try and wait to see if Marvin and Mavis come later in the day for a quiet visit, or go out and find them on “their” corner.

Marvin and Mavis serenading from upper deck

With the current crowfusion, it’s harder to tell exactly who’s who at a glance. Mavis still has one slightly blunt claw so it’s often up to zooming in on feet to make a reasonably accurate ID. That, and noting the direction from which they arrive.

Mavis in the snowbell tree, Dec 2022

Marvin, Mavis and Lucky — October 2022

The photo above is Marvin on Christmas morning, 2022 beside a small tree. This is one of the saplings finally planted to replace the lost stand of poplars. It will be while before the new trees are nest-worthy, but a small sign of hope for the future.

A quiet visit from just Marvin and Mavis (and sometimes Lucky) is a rarer thing that it used to be — but it still happens and is all the more appreciated.

Stay tuned for the next City Crow Story update …




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Crow Therapy, January 2020


2020 has left me feeling rather hopeless so far. Everything I’ve thought of writing about seemed trivial to the point of being worthless.

As usual, it took a crow to get me to pull my metaphysical socks up.

It helped, I’m sure, that a day without rain permitted me and my air cast to venture out past the confines of the back yard.

It been early December since I’ve been able to get around far enough to check on the corvid situation and I was happy to get out and see Mabel and family, Art and the gang and Ada the young crow.

I’m not sure why, but it was Ada who adjusted my mindset.

I’d been thinking that posting pictures of crows and other birds on social media, even making art from my bird images, seemed just so inadequate. I should make more impactful, statement-making art.  I should quit taking photographs altogether and devote myself to action for climate, social and political justice.

Possibly all of those things are true, but Ada pointed out that sometimes the best thing you can do is keep on keeping on with the small, hopeful projects.

My photographing and writing about my local crows is unlikely to change the world.

I do have small, subversive ambitions. I hope that my words and images create familiarity with other species … leading to love and protective instincts … leading to action.

So, here is Ada.

She came down to see me and I put some peanuts down for her, but she was being intimidated by some more senior crows. She was tempted, I could see, to fly away and leave them to it, but she stood her ground.

You can see she gives a nervous little wing flap after the other crow caws above her, but ultimately decides to stick it out. She did get the peanuts in the end.

So, there you are. Just another little bird anecdote.

More coming in 2020.

If you feel you need daily #crowtherapy or #birdtherapy you can follow me on Instagram or Facebook, where I try to post at least once a day.

Ada also wanted me to pass this on. If you’d like to help out the countless creatures displaced and injured by the fires in Australia, you can donate to WIRES, an Australian non-profit wildlife rescue association. To help people who have lost everything in the bush fires, you can donate to the New South Wales Rural Fire service.