Not only is spring in the air but so is LOVE. Check out these two crows at the West Seattle Junction in plain sight of all showing a little love.
I do wonder if this is child to parent behavior but whatever way you cut it … it shows love and concern.
Take a final peek at them hanging out in their rooftop lair.
Last couple of weeks there has been a frenzy of crow activity to get their nurseries ready. One of the biggest clues to where a crow is building is to follow the sticks. Well not literally, but if you see a crow with sticks or grass in their mouth they are not eating it. Just follow them to the tree they drag it into. There is a good chance they are building up in the top of that tree.
Here are two examples of this behavior. First one is a male crow in Lincoln Park. I can tell he is a boy because his head feathers are almost like he is wearing a hoody plus the little beard under his chin.
This guy is working on the grass part so they must be close to finishing it. Never did see where he went. He was close to the trail and right after I got this picture someone came along. You know this crow disappeared just like that.
Then right outside my window here is a stick connoisseur. Never saw where he went. I think this crow is one of the pair that had babies in the pine tree outside my window last year.
Better yet than a still photo is this little short video showing off his treasure hunting.
So much for the stick as a way to find a nest. Not a lot of luck this year but maybe my luck will change.
That brings me to the other way. That is to listen for that special baby crow cry. It sounds like “mama mama” with a caw twist. As walking around 39th SW & Marine View Drive I heard a little one. I walked around to MVD thinking he must be up in the fir trees. Kept listening and watching but to no avail. Then I heard that the sound was coming from behind me. Like zeroing in on a cell phone location, I started to triangulate where it was.
To my astonishment I found the nest in a deciduous tree. Not unheard of but fir trees are really crow’s tree of choice.
Here is a good distance look at the nest up at the top of the tree. It is right above the light pole. If you just follow straight up the pole into the tree you will see it.
How about a little closer? Now you can start seeing the shape. When I first saw the nest, I saw a crow sitting on the nest with my binoculars. I don’t think the pictures capture it.
It is a big nest. The tree does not give it a lot of cover or support, so these crows worked hard to get it sturdy for their brood.
Finally – a close up so you can see the heavy lumber they used. I call it lumber when you think a crow lugged this up there.
Want to know more about crows and sticks? Here are two articles I have accumulated over the years:
Plus here is a post on a crow nest as it is built over time.
Today the sun was shining and it had warmed up to mid-40s. Yes funny how just getting out of freezing temperatures gave us all spring fever. This includes the birds in the hood. All along my walk to and from Fauntleroy Park I could hear them shouting out their happiness. Whole lot of singing love was in the air. They are not wasting time finding a mate or re-engaging with their long time honey.
On the subject of bird pairs, I was graced by seeing a Pileated Woodpecker pair on a dead douglas fir tree. This must be the same pair I had filmed on the west side of the cedar grove. The tree they are on was on the southeast corner of the cedars. Basically another gully over. They gave themselves away by their knocking and thunking which echoed across the forest. Once I located them I took some photos of one of them to share. However I at first did not realize that lower down was his mate.
Enjoy this little clip – I swear he would stop and say to the grubs in the tree – “Come out Come out!”
I was really quite away from the tree they were on. Notice how the video wobbled a bit? That is because of the zoom I was using without a tripod. This next pic shows you how far away they are and if you look carefully you can see the male up toward the top and the female hanging out lower on the tree trunk.
How about another episode from my walk? I found this place up in the brush above the Cambridge street entrance that someone put three stakes in the hill-side and three boards across. I came back to it today and sat down to enjoy the birds, sunshine and forest ambiance.
Here is a set of bushes that a song sparrow and wren were chirping away and even showed themselves a couple of times. Sorry no bird photo. I was inhaling their excitement over some warmth instead of fussing with my camera.
While I was sitting there a little Anna Hummingbird came flying up between the limbs of an alder tree directly in front of me. Maybe less than 6 feet away. He(she) stopped stared at me and then decided I wasn’t too bad. He then went over to a piece of hanging moss and poked it. Could be he is doing a little sip of moss dew or perhaps seeing if it would work in a nest. Then he just flew over my head up the hill behind me and was gone. Later I saw him flying around the area doing his hummy click click sound.
It was a special place just like the hummy was trying to tell me. Check out the moss that was glowing from the sun behind it. It had some lovely shades of pale green.
During my walk to and from the park I kept notes on where I saw crow families. Not surprising they were in the places I tracked 2011.
On an even happier note, I saw my gimpy crow that hangs out at 39th & 106th. I had not seen her(him) for many months and feared her time had run out. The first time I saw her was in November of 2012 which would make her at least 6 years old. She is living proof that crows are tough birds with a lot of plunk and determination. If you want to see more on her here is a link to a post just about her. Gimpy Crow of 39th
Back to documenting where they are hanging out. Here is a little map I marked with my crow sightings today.
I wondered if the three crows seen on 106th in two places might be the same. It is possible but the second place in the alley between 41st & 42nd I did not see Gimpy. My prior research had them as two separate clans. Today’s alley group range further to the west towards MVD and the 39th clan are more along 107th and into the Arroyos.
Hope you enjoyed my adventure. Never know what you will see if you look up.
In the beginning of Crows of Arroyos I created a Google Map of my Crow family sightings around Arbor Heights. When reviewing some photos I took of a pair in the alley between 39th SW and 40th SW I remembered these old maps. I wondered if the families and their descendents were still hanging around.
Here is a link to that map. It dates back to 2011 and now 9 years later the families are still owning the same territories I documented. When you open the map I have the icon changed to a yellow bird for ease of finding the spot where I am.
The pair tagged along after me. I have fed them peanuts for years and they remember or were told about me. We got to a new waist height fence and there they gave me the what are you waiting for looks.
Next one of them turned towards me and gave me a very direct look. There was no mistaking that get with the program stare.
How about a good close up of my being eyeballed by this pair. They sure know who I am and are not afraid. They are confirming not only that crow families are territorial but also do tell their family members about who is naughty and nice.
So much excitement had one of them fanning their tail in anticipation.
This revisit of my old research was so gratifying and I am glad I actually documented my sightings back in the beginning. Think this spring I will need to make a baby nest map. Here is a link to that old map for your viewing pleasure. Remember… just look about yourself and the world will deliver the most wonderful things.
Here in West Seattle crows are plentiful and have staked own their homes just like us. Over the years I have documented many of these crow colonies. When I drive to work the same tribes are hard at seeking out breakfast in the same place each day. Thought I would give you a short tour of a piece of my route, so you can see what I mean.
Long ago my husband named one of the crows in our backyard Mocha. Then came the son of Mocha and now we just have her family. The tour starts with a look at one of them watching over the territory.
I walked out the front door and lo and behold there was another family member checking out the front side of the house. Guess they have our number! They do remember who is naughty or nice and we have been pegged as nice since we feed them all sorts of things. Add to that the crow urban legend that we saved one of their babies from a cat. That is what started us down the road of being in cahoots with crows.
I hooked it down the street, around the corner and down 108th. I did not see the 108th crowd at this time nor the bus stop family. They must have been off in a tree or a yard pecking out their living for the day.
As I headed up 35th, only two blocks up from the corner crowds home turf, I spotted just that. A crow in a yard looking for something to eat. Perhaps this was one of the corner crew but I don’t think so. This was close to 106th where another family has taken as theirs.
This guy was not too shy, he was up close to the front door checking out for human food items. Of course he would take a bug or worm any day but human scrap is the best.
Crows adopt human families and move into your yard. This crow seems pretty comfortable, so I bet this is the center of his home turf.
Off I trucked again towards 106th. My goal is to walk the way I head to work and show you how many crow families there are along the way.
Off I went down the 106th hill into the area we call the dip. Get to the dip and slightly off the street behind the houses is a water retention pond. I never disappointed when I see the red wing blackbird. Several years ago they dug this pond out so it would quit flooding the houses near by. The blackbird got displaced and was up the hill at our bird feeder. Now the red wing family is back in their territory where they love the marsh and cat tails.
Out I popped back to the street and guess what? I found a member of the dip crowd pecking at something in the street. This area has a couple of tall Douglas Fir trees. They make good nurseries coupled with good road kill you have a prime crow home spot.
He must be an older crow because he knew what the traffic was going to do. As a big truck rumbled by on the opposite side of the street he barely budged from his food foraging. Later I was watching from a block away when a small box truck came down right at him. He looked up, judged the distance took another peck and then as the truck got close flew to the sidewalk.
Up the hill I went towards the store and the lawn mower shop. Found a clue to the resident family in the grass… a feather. If you watch closely, you will see that most stores or restaurants belong to a crow family. They know that eats are consistent and the extended family guards and holds onto their territory for years.
I got to the intersection which is so busy it has a stoplight. The family grocery store has survived for years and just beyond is the lawn shop. Lo and behold there was the resident family. They were in the street cleaning up behind us humans.
Like the dip family crow down below they are not afraid of a car or two unless it is coming right at it. They have learned how to dance with the traffic.
Then a car came down the hill and he moved to the grass strip.
We have gone about 10 blocks since the crow in the flowers. See how many families there are packed into this neighborhood?
Here is one more shot of the mower/grocery family. They are right at the entrance to the shop showing us all they own this spot.
Up the S-Curves hill I went and there was the next troop or family of crows.
We have made it to 22nd at this point and my count of crow residences is 5. I know there are more but who is counting?
I did not see anything too exciting until I got to the very busy intersection of 107th and 16th. This is White Center and this is a crow heaven spot.
One corner has a Taco Bell (yummy trash), a convenience store, a funeral home with a great old tree, and a grocery store (more good eats). Major traffic light here and of course traffic. That means good road kill as well as things people throw out of their car window. I was not disappointed by the crow population here.
I did not cross the street but rather headed north. This is such a good crow spot I was not surprised by how many were hanging out watching me for a treat.
This little crow looked real funny. He had no feathers on his neck which gave him the funniest skinny neck look. He saw me and fled to the building. At first I did not notice his buddy was up there. I think the other crow was his mom but not sure.
Around the corner I went and walked back south up an alley. It would lead back to 107th and home. Here I found of course more crows or perhaps they were the two on the wire.
Speaking of alleys, as I walked back home I checked them out. In two different alleys I saw kitty cats, a tabby and a white one. They certainly were enjoying the morning just like the crows.
Back at the s-curves I saw some of the extended family of the mower shop crew. First check out Mr. Daredevil.
Off to my left over the guard rail I spotted a skinny crow on the road below. He was in poor feather after a long hot summer and it being molting season.
Walked the back way to my house and came out at the corner where I had not seen the usual bus stop family. Guess what he was following me and flew into a tree to watch for a few peanuts.
Guess I have a reputation to keep up. Once I got home these two of Mocha’s family were hanging out hoping for some bread.
Hope you enjoyed my tour of the crow families in the hood. Keep your eyes open and you will be surprised at how many crows live right along side of us. They are tight family units and stake out their territory for years. Sound like us?
At least for me crow recognition is near impossible except when they are banded or have disabilities. Without those visual clues one cannot be 100% sure of seeing the same crow.
That brings me to what we can learn from this gimpy crow. First of all she is always in the same place on 39th Avenue SW and second I know approximately when she was born or first appeared in the area.
I first spotted her in November of 2012. One leg is pretty much useless except as a prop at times. She (I call her a she but she could be a he) usually squats down low when sitting or eating. Of course there is hopping around too. Flying and landing do not seem to be a problem at all for her.
Here is a photo from about 6 years ago using a car to stand on her one good leg.
A couple of months later feeding the crew bread she came again. This is in March of 2013. These two pictures give a good idea of how she can balance on the one leg and her crouching down in a low stance.
Almost a year later here she is again in my photo library. Same block of 39th between 106th and 107th. These photos show close up how her leg is disabled and she overcomes that to survive.
Late 2015 there she is again. Now she has to be at least 3 1/2 years old. And guess what? She is in the same block of 39th.
What a testament to this crow’s ability to adapt. Here we have a one-legged crow who did not perish from her bad leg. Her family still surrounds her and I have to imagine she or he has been involved in raising babies.
Time is moving along and January 2016 she was front and center making sure she gets a treat from me. She is showing us that yes crows do remember who you are and now when she sees me she makes sure I see her up on the wire. Then when she gets her peanut or bread she eats close enough for me to get better photos & a little video of her.
Spring of that same year there she was still in her spot and I got a good shot of her taking off after eating a peanut.
2017 I had several sightings of her and this one shows her crouching in the gravel to eat her treat. Still a survivor and adapter to life with one leg.
We made it to today. Here she is on the wire after grabbing a nut. Got that balancing act down.
What did she shows us? Having a defining attribute to identify her each time I see her has given my crow research and watching a big boost. That her being about 6 1/2 years old with a disability has not stopped her living a full life. She also confirms that crows own defined territories and that crows do have a home just like us.
Happy Holidays from Crows all over the World!!
We give you a smile and a big smooch this wonderful time of the year!! Spread the Love wherever you go.
Nothing like a good pile of garbage to attract a family of crows. Check out how they are taking turns dumpster diving for treats.
The baby crow was taking his turn and you can hear him crying at his family. Then he came up with nothing. Still has a lot to learn is all I can say!