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.
Family life with a pre-teen. I think I remember those days myself.
One minute they’re all grown up and don’t need their parents AT ALL, next — they just need a snuggle and some comfort food.
At least, when I was raising my kids, I didn’t have moulting to deal with as well.
A moulting crow is a cranky crow, and the whole family is starting that process now.
At least the fledgling can entertain himself with his own escaping feathers
At the same time, Marvin and Mavis are dealing with a pre-teen (Lucky) who is going through the two steps forward, three steps back process of learning to feed himself.
Lucky can definitely come and get his own peanuts from our deck. He has demonstrated prowess (well, competence, at least) in this field.
At first he’d just get one peanut and then wonder what exactly to do with it, but now he’s on to the advanced level of stuffing his gullet to capacity before flying away and hiding some for later, just like mom and dad do.
Other advanced skills include perching on the water bowl and dipping snacks to moisten them.
For most of the day, the family is off on adventures around the neighbourhood, while Marvin and Mavis are presumably teaching Lucky the skills needed to grab more “in the wild” food.
Yet several times a day I still hear Lucky making his begging calls, and every once in a while see one of the parents wavering in their determination to get him self sufficient by stuffing a snack into his waiting beak.