Crows react to Baby’s death

It is true as I thought Friday before last, the baby crow in Renton was dead.   When I arrived at the building on Monday I did a quick look through my binoculars and the little guys body was no longer draped across the nest.   I started scanning the shrubs around the base of the tree and didn’t see anything.   When I put my binocs down there he was.   I don’t know how I missed him laying sprawled on the pavement below his nest home.

I don’t want to really talk about his demise in detail and I have attached a picture so you can see what it looks like out my office window.   Later in the day I could not stand looking at his pitiful little body and got a paper plate and plastic fork.  I then shoved him on the plate and gave him a dumpster burial.   Rest in Peace my little baby crow.

On to the title of this article – How did the crows react to his death.   His Mom knew he was dead but she kept poking him that fateful Friday to be sure he was gone.   What I found most interesting is most of last week there was not a crow in sight of our parking lot or even our next door neighbor’s.   In my human brain I think if it was me I won’t want to re-visit the sight of a dear ones death either.   Is that what is happening here?   Do they sense the bad juju this nest tree has and have started avoiding the area?  Is this their way of mourning?  On Friday I did finally see a few crows in the trees again.   Not the nest tree but they did start coming back around.

What makes me think this isn’t just the Renton Family’s way is the changed behavior in our backyard after the attack on their nest.   They used to flock to our yard for peanuts and bread before the nest was built.   I assumed they all left to raise their own families and give the couple space for theirs.   However, now that several weeks have passed and it is obvious that the attack did end that nest’s success they have continued to stay away.   Past years parents would drop off their little ones because it was safe here.   Now only two yearlings from last year come by occasionally for a hand out.
Death does seem to have an impact on them.   Is it they are avoiding the area because they think danger still lurks or do they really mourn their loss?   Could be both or something in between.

Here is the picture of the little guy –  note his feathers still were covered in a waxy substance.   We usually don’t see the babies till this has been removed or fallen off.   Reminds me that Mother Nature brings life and death; there is the Ying & Yang –  good and evil of the world.   Our job in life is to navigate these ups and downs and find our way somewhere in the middle.


  1. Death does have an impact on the murder. Years ago there was a crow sitting in my back yard. Several crows were in the trees above, no sounds, no berating, just waiting and watching. He didn’t protest when I picked him up, put him in a nice toweled box and grabbed a can of Terrell’s that I keep around for just such occasions. He died a few hours later, from what I haven’t a clue, but I set the open box out in the yard, everyone kept an eye for a few minutes then flew off.

    The whole experience was very effecting and I wrote about the deathwatch. Wasn’t surprised as I’d grew up with crows in the house, but the death watch really threw me for a loop.

    Thanks again for such great crow posts.

  2. I feed the crows, they come every morning and evening for handouts, today we saw one of the babes dead on the road, I lifted it into a bag and my daughter and I put him in some tall bushes in the park, I looked up and saw the crows watching, I threw some peanuts as we left and they didnt touch the peanuts they seem to be in mourning:( I couldnt just leave its little body on the road, Im glad I moved it. I hope the crows dont think Im the cause of death.

    • Thank you for the kind crow words. Yes it is very sad to see baby die. Like a lot of nature they do have a pretty high mortality rate. A friend of mine said once, if they all lived we would be knee deep in crows. Then they won’t be so exciting and interesting.

      And more important, they do mourn their own. You just became part of the eulogy by moving the little one from the road & showed them respect. They know who you are and they count you as one of the good ones. I swear they even know my car now and crows in odd places fly close and look at me like… hey where are the snacks.

      Keep up the good cause of spreading the word on how marvelous these creatures are.

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