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:



© 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.


The Calligraphy of Crows

This is an excellent time of year for studying crow calligraphy.

Their inky brush strokes are never more distinct than when scrawled across the blank parchment of a pale grey Vancouver winter sky.

The bulletin can be simple — “yup, it’s grey and boring down there in the human world, but every day is an adventure for us crows!”


Often though, the fleeting sight of a crow in an urban setting seems like a cypher — a key to de-coding a much bigger message.

As we dash around in the city it’s sometimes possible to forget that nature even exists.

Even if I try my hardest to feel connected, so many things can seem to stand in the way; the constant metropolitan hum-m-m of sound; getting from A to B;  worrying about paying bills, meeting deadlines, not getting run over; the latest news …

I know there’s another storyline beyond it all — one that I really need to pay more attention to.

I know I’d feel better if I could tune into it, but can’t for life of me quite remember how it all fits together.

It’s like a neglected language.

One I’ve never been fluent in.

I’m sure I once knew how to hold a rudimentary conversation, but now the grammar eludes me.


Then, one random day, I look up and see four crows rolling and tumbling in the sky and then snapping  back into a purposeful formation.

For reasons I can’t understand it brings to mind just one key bit of the syntax.

Like stumbling across part of a cypher to that complicated secret message — never quite enough information to crack it entirely, but offering a glimpse.

Everything does not suddenly make sense — but I am at least reminded that the other language exists.

I still don’t see the answers, but there’s a certain joy now in the not knowing.

I hope to spend more time in 2023 paying attention to, and working with, crow calligraphy.



© 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.


Sometimes the best way to tear yourself away from binge-watching the TV is to drag yourself outside and tune in to the always entertaining Crow Channel.

I’d planned an archival Ken Burns-style documentary for this blog post, going over everything that’s happened with the local crows since I last did an update last fall.

After sorting through months of photographs I was still trying to wrap my mind around a way to fit everything into a post that would be slightly shorter than War and Peace.

A lot happens with crows in a few months!

This morning, while walking the dog. I had a epiphany. (This often happens, don’t you find?)

I decided to write the blog just about the hot-from-the-press crow news as gathered on the current morning walk — coming to you live (-ish) & local from East Vancouver.

No sign of Marvin and Mavis first thing, so Geordie and I headed out and put their Sunday morning breakfast (scrambled eggs) in the fridge for later.

The first star appearance in today’s crow drama is Mabel — of George and Mabel fame, and cover model for the 2018 crow calendar.

She and her new mate “own” the western end of our street. I’m sure it’s Mabel, partly because she knows me so well, and partly because of her bad eye. From one side she looks like any other crow.

But from the other, I can see that the eye that was starting to deteriorate when George was alive has gotten worse. I’m not sure if she can see out of it at all now, but somehow it doesn’t seem to slow her down. She rules her territory like a corvid Boudicca, faulty eye or not. All crows are action heroes.

Time for a short crow calligraphy break in the programming as we spot one of the several  Garibaldi School crows, creating an interesting silhouette agains some wavy branches.

Back to some supporting actors in the ongoing crowp opera. There are quite a few characters on Napier Street that I haven’t named yet, although they seem to know me (and Geordie) very well. The white blur in the photo below is Geordie walking between me and the crow. Dog and crow seem to take each other’s presence for granted.

Portrait of a crow, photograph by June Hunter<br /> ©junehunterimages2019<br />

Another un-named, very confident, Napier Street crow …

It’s always a bit tricky when you get to the corner of a block, or wherever the boundary between crow fiefdoms lies. Here we’re on the border of Pants Family terrain, but the Napier crow on the stop sign seems inclined to make a bold incursion this morning.

Napier Street crow on the edge of his territory

Mr. Pants is not amused at the audacity.  We might have had to include a “Warning: Crow Violence” sticker on this program, but I traced my steps back a bit so I could distract the Napier crows with a few peanuts before having a short visit with the Pants Family.

Since the great moulting season of 2018  — see Red Hot Fall Fashion Tips — Mr. Pants has been lacking the feathered trousers that earned him his name. Now that it’s getting a bit colder, he does seem to be getting a bit fluffier around the nether regions, but I’m not sure if he’ll ever be quite so pantaloon-encumbered as he once was.

He probably enjoys the more streamlined life.

The Pants power couple.

Mr. Pants, dashing with or without trousers.

Brief pause for a commercial break … 

June Hunter Studio Sale Feb 2019

And now, back to scheduled programming …

On to William Street next to check in on the White Wing plot line. I know this is Ms. Wing by the way she greets me, even though I can’t see her distinctive wonky feather from this angle.

There we go …

A brisk wind catches her protruding feather this morning. It looks kind of awkward, but she seems to manage very well. In fact, of all the local crows, she was the most successful mom this year, successfully raising three fledglings to independence.

Another break for a spot of crow calligraphy.

The commotion in a tree near William and Kaslo made me think a crow or eagle must be involved, but it seemed to be an all-crow kerfuffle. The one on the far right had something in his beak and it seems that the others felt it was not rightfully his.

They chased him out of the tree, back to the tree and dive bombed repeatedly, but he stubbornly held on to whatever prize he’d managed to score.

On the home stretch  we run into two of our old favourites, Eric and Clara.

They’re Marvin and Mavis’s closest neighbours and there’s been a bit of rivalry between them lately.  When I stop to greet Eric and Clara, I immediately see and hear Marvin on a power line, making grumpy territorial calls.

Eric and Clara

As soon as I get a few steps closer to home, Marvin comes down to claim my full attention. Time for breakfast.

But no … there’s a final twist to the plot (isn’t there always?)

Mavis is watching something else from another hydro wire and she seems perturbed.

Raven!!!! Furious cawing and they take off to escort the intruder out of their territory.

It takes Marvin a few minutes to calm down after that little burst of crow-drenelin.

I thinks he’s earned a good breakfast, so the scrambled eggs are brought out again.

Marvin graciously lets Mavis have the first serving. Since she developed a spot of avian pox on her right foot late last year, I notice she’s a lot pushier about getting the food and Marvin seems to know she needs as much nutrition as she can get. You can see the small lesion on her back foot in the photo below. It doesn’t seem to be growing, so I’m hoping she’s got enough of an immune system to hold it at bay.

‘Scuse my table manners.

Marvin the patient.

And so today’s Crowflix programming comes to an end … and we didn’t even cover the Slocan Street Trio. Perhaps they’ll need their own episode. Remember, there’s probably a live crow show on offer in  your neighbourhood too. You just have to step away from the TV and out the door.