The Caramel Crows of Lincoln Park

We are going to start today with a word I can’t seem to pronounce….. Leucistic. Here is the definition per Wiki.

Leucism (/ˈluːsɪzəm, -kɪz-/) is a condition in which there is partial loss of pigmentation in an animal—which causes white, pale, or patchy coloration of the skin, hair, feathers, scales or cuticle, but not the eyes.

The crow in the picture above fits this description to the tee and so did the first one that we will zero in on next.

Here I was at Lincoln Park in West Seattle looking for the caramel crow that I had seen weeks earlier.  Lot of folks knew of the caramel crows when I would ask them if they had seen one. Several even thought it was something besides a crow.

At first, I had only a partial sighting where the murder was up in a stand of fir trees having a caw fest. That is where I saw one of these light brown/white crows at the top of a tree. He was being dive-bombed by one of his black brothers.  When I went for my camera he decided he had enough of the disrespect and fled the area.

So much for that sighting so I wandered the woods for a bit following the murder on the southern edge of the park. When I got back to the area where a ball field backdrop stands and the place of my first sighting I made a good decision.  That was to pull out the peanuts and see what happened. I only had a few black crows in view.  However, as soon as the nuts hit the dirt it became a large crowd. To my delight a caramel crow showed up.

He wasn’t too shy now but did end up on top of this dead snag of a tree.  Photos and video tell the story better than any description or words at this point.

First Caramel Crow on snag watching me feed peanuts

Isn’t he/she a beauty? Lets get closer….

Leucistic Crow close up – buffy chest, white wings & dark face.

Best of all he stayed put on the old snag long enough for a short video.

I was happy to see a black crow sitting very close to the caramel crow. I think that means we have a bonded pair. After seeing the dive-bombing earlier this showed that even a different colored crow can be accepted by the larger family.  Crows are very social and this is important for their survival and well being.

Caramel crow with black crow mate.

After a bit the crows started moving around and I decided to leave. I didn’t get very far down the path when they decided to have an intervention.  Meaning they wanted more peanuts. My caramel crow came with the gang and I broke down shelling out peanut goodness.  He was down on the ground getting closer & closer because the black brothers kept getting the nuts even though I would throw them close to my brown beauty.

Where is the peanut for me? I trust you now, so cough one up!!

I even got a video of his pacing & begging.

At last he got one and flew off with it.  Either to store or better yet eat in private so no one could steal his treasure.

Then to my surprise another caramel crow showed up. This second guy was lighter with a whiter back than the first. Today I spent a bit of time comparing the photos to confirm that there were two.  I started to doubt myself when I was reviewing photos & video. It was so much more obvious in real time but that is how photography can roll.

Caramel crow with really white wings, tail and back of his head.

Let’s get closer with some progressively zoomed in photos.

A side shot of our second leucistic crow
Second Caramel Crow showing his stuff

Of course I got a short video too.

To wrap things up here is some research on prior sightings around this area.  Here is what I found:

  • April 2008 the West Seattle Blog posted an article about a caramel crow up on California Avenue and Thistle Street.  Her local families called her “Leucy” and said she had several children.  Unfortunately, late July of 2009 she was found dead, a casualty of the heat wave that summer.
  • June 2017 – Corvid Research Blog posted a lot of photos of a leucistic crow. No location was given but I am pretty sure it is a West Seattle Park.  Bet it was Lincoln.
  • September 2019 – On Reddit there was a photo posted of a caramel crow. When I posted my first sightings on r/crows someone directed me to r/RealLifeShinies. There was a pretty similar crow & could even be one of the two I saw this week.

Nature never stops giving us surprises. As my motto states one has to be open to Adventures in Serendipity.

4 comments

  1. And what beauties they are, too.
    Put us humans to shame with their tolerance.
    There is a crow near where we live that does not croak etc but gives a high ‘boo, boo’ sound. I could not believe my ears at first. Well, now it has a youngster making the same sound.
    Tolerance. At least among crows – you don’t want to know what they do to blackbirds.

  2. Isn’t the natural world fascinating & can teach us so much. We had a crow that mimicked the chickens in the area. I thought there was on the loose till I notice the crow on the fence. Super smart for sure. Thanx for stopping by over & over!! Appreciate the feedback

  3. Aug 3, 2020, today I saw a caramel crow youngster at the 46th and Rose area in West Seattle (right above Lincoln Park); it was on the driveway of a newly built home being fed by its black crow mother. Quite a demanding youngster. The first such crow I’ve seen; looked up “brown crow” and found this blog!

    • Wow – this baby must be from one of the caramel crows I noticed earlier this year. Interesting to know that they mated with a non leucistic crow. Thanx for the update and visiting my humble little blog.

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