Almost three years ago I wrote an article about Crow recognition. I set myself out to photograph and document the local families with the quest to recognize them.
Good Luck with that!!
Here is a link to that post so you can read up on my plan and follow a link to see if you can tell crows apart. This article is from NPR called “The Crow Paradox”. They can tell us apart but we humans can’t identify them even if our life was at stake.
Now years later, I want to regroup on this topic with the few crows I do know. The reason I know them is they are either gimpy, banded or major regulars of mine. Quite a few of these birds I have written about and have been watching for many years.
First is the crow I think is Ellie the baby crow we raised in 2006 after she fell out of a tree across the street. She is gimpy with a twisted foot, so she hops on one foot like a ballerina. She is a very determined crow and tells the rest of her family what she thinks when I throw food on the street. She will give them a good cawing and acts like a crow in charge.
Next is a crow up on 39th that is much shyer than Ellie. She is usually with her mate between 108th and 106th. There are times she will come down and get a peanut or piece of bread and then there are times she will hang out in the fir tree. She squats down lower than Ellie and seems to balance her breast on things.
This article also shows off the two banded crows on 39th. One hangs out around MVD and 107th while the other is more up by 102nd. The MVD bird has more green blue bands. I have even submitted him to the banded bird tracking site. However, I never got a confirmation on who banded him. My request was sent to the professor from the UW but he never responded either. Here is a quick article on that:
Last today is Mochs who hangs out in our back yard. Well, he isn’t there all the time but does swing by daily for a bite or two. He is the crow featured in the tortilla crow post I recently did. He has quite a taste for human food. We had an extra piece of pumpkin pie that he made quick work of yesterday. There was other bread put out with it but he went right for the pie. No doubt he knew that was a tasty treat to not be ignored. The other crows would bamboozle him out of it if he didn’t hurry.
In February of 2012 I filled out the information on a banded crow pictured above. Over the last couple of years I continue to encounter him and have written several posts about him and other banded crows.
This week I received a response from the USGS on the sighting. It is pretty exciting because what they sent me is a letter that was sent to Dr John Marzluff, who is one of the worlds experts on crows. He is a professor at the University of Washington with several books and documentaries on crows. Coincidently, I am currently reading one of his books “Gifts of the Crow”. This letter is asking him to confirm this is one of his banded birds. I was not able to get the number on the silver band but the color sequence should give him enough info to identify it as one of his.
I will keep you all updated if I get a formal response. Took them a long time to sort it out but now I am inspired to continue documenting the crows in my area.
Walking to the park I came across two of the banded crows in the neighborhood. I think there are three in the area. One is near my house on 107th and have shown you him several times. The second one is really the first one I photographed over on 39th close to 100th. This third one on 42nd this week finally let me take his photo. A little bread helps a bunch.
How about some photos of all three so you can compare the bands.
Mr 42nd has red and white bands
Bread always helps win them over for a photo shoot.
39th Street Southwest has two banded crows and two gimpy ones. Today I got the pleasure of seeing three of these four birds. Remember back to my discussion about crow recognition? That is next to impossible without any major determining characteristic. This is why I keep track of the banded and gimpy crows because it is very clear who they are and what their territories are. First here is the crow that hangs out close to MVD and 39th SW. He is still pretty shy of me and I had to hide behind some bushes after putting the bread out. His partner wasn’t shy at all but he waited till my back was turned.
Next comes the gimpy crow hanging out on a roof and a car. Her foot is pretty bad unlike the other one on 39th who uses the bad leg as a prop. This bird is a ballerina of sorts on one leg.
Lastly, the other banded crow on 39th started following me from about 105th to 102nd. He was not shy about getting his share of the bread and I got some good pictures of his bands. Enjoy!
In my walk today I ran across another banded crow. Here is a picture to document him. He was just off Barton Ave SW and 31st SW. Pretty sure not the same one that frequents 107th but I need to look at the bands more closely.
Updates on our backyard group, gimpy and banded crows:
The local family we call Mocha’s family have lost their fear of our backyard. Or was it just they grieved over the robbed nest. Whichever it was, this weekend they have been back in force for peanuts and bread. They brought their babies with them some of them even know how to crack a peanut. As in most seasons one of the babies is a little younger and a bigger cry baby. This is true here again this year. Not sure if the youngest is more spoiled or the parents are just so tired of the baby tending at this point that the last one gets pushed out earlier. Hence the cry baby behaviour. We also have a baby Steller Jay who does a similar wing puff as he crys. He is more sqwaky than the baby crow but his behavior gives him away as a youngster.
Gimpy crows in the neighborhood are still around. The one I call Ellie down on MVD and 112th continues to thrive. She might be a he from what I saw last week. Their territory extends over to the next street 37th and as I walked up that street I fed the flock. There was my gimpy crow and she/he was very much in charge. Doing the cawing and boasting stance that you see the males do. Pretty hard to sex crows but we always thought Ellie was a she.
Another gimpy crow that lives north on 39th also is still around. This crow can still use the damaged leg to balance herself on. Been seeing this crow for a few years now and today there she was again. Still so shy of me she won’t stay around long enough to snap off a picture. Won’t even come down for a peanut while I was watching. Does go to show being a disabled crow does not mean they won’t survive. It actually allows me to identify a crow which as you have heard me state earlier is near impossible to do.
Lastly I spotted the banded crow up on 39th & 100th again. Only a couple of houses down from where I took his picture in March 2011. Just like the gimpy crow in this neighborhood he is very shy. When I fed him peanuts he grabbed and disappeared. Didn’t come back for the second round I threw out while I watched. Crow studies have shown that crows remember humans that are good or bad to them. I have never really been bad to these two crows but they have been hurt or chased by people so they are shy. If I went up that street more often and fed them perhaps a little trust would form.
Surprise Surprise – on my walk today I figured there would be furious nest-building. Instead I heard two baby crows crying. Was just looking for sticks being hauled like 2 x 4s to be used in the development of nursery trees. There is no mistaking a baby crow sound. It has the quality of a crow caw but it sounds like mama mama. Might be my imagination that it sounds like that but it sure has a non-adult bird sound. If you hear it just follow that sound to the nest or to where they are hanging out. Maybe you will be treated by seeing a blue eyed baby crow. Remember, don’t touch them unless they are in mortal danger. You will be in danger from the parents if you do decide to snatch that baby. Plus raising one is no walk in the park. Like any baby they require feeding and attention in frequent intervals, 2 to 4 hours apart. Makes for a poor nights sleep. So, think twice before you take them home.
One was in the alley between 42nd and 41st and 102nd and 100th SW. He was in a big fir-tree with the parents coming and going like crazy to keep this little one fed and happy. At one point I thought I saw the baby come out and land on a light pole. I practically ran around the block to get to the street (I was in the alley). All the while I was getting my Kodak zoom camera out, started & zoomed to the max. When I got there I watched the crow move closer to a house cawing. This wasn’t a baby however, there was a cat there in that driveway watching and waiting. The parents were serving him notice he had better stay home and not come to their tree. The best part was this crow was banded. Not the one I have been seeing over by 39th & 109th. (here is the blog with picture of him http://wp.me/p1d1cX-ha ) I am 100% sure of that because I had just 15 min earlier fed that crow over on 108th and this would be out of his territory. More important, the bands were not the same. I don’t have a perfect count & color but they weren’t the blue green ones my other guy has.
About a year ago I posted an article about a banded crow over on 39th and 100th. I think this might be the same crow. Here is the link to that blog – http://wp.me/p1d1cX-4J. If it is, this shows a banded crow might be a little limpy like my 39th & 109ths one but they can breed or be an active member of a family. I’ll see if I can get a better picture of him and confirm if it really is the same. There might be three banded crows in the area because I did see one over in the alley between 41st & 40th in the fir trees next to the house that burned down last fall. (another big story in the neighborhood) By golly, I might not be able to tell the average crow apart but with gimpy or banded ones there is hope at identification.
The second baby was over on Roxbury and 42nd SW. A little quieter and a lot less activity here. However, I was able to get a picture of the nest. Don’t get excited, no baby picture just a bunch of sticks in this photo.
David surprised me a week ago when he said there was a crying crow baby down at the corner of 35th and 110th. I thought it was early but guess the crows have been very busy raising families.
Last but not least, we think in our neighbors backyard that is behind our house the pair of lovers I have posted before are building a nest. In the last few days the larger flock is pretty scarce and we only see the pair every once in a while. I am thinking they are done building and the sitting has started. This quiet time is because they don’t want to be seen or discovered. I will keep my eye on the tree and keep you all posted. Maybe a baby in our own back yard.
The banded crow is now confirmed to be a resident and not a visitor in Arbor Heights. I walked back to 107th & 39th looking for him and had a suspicion that the family he was with ranged down the hill onto 109th. For many years I have seen a group in the area around the intersection of MVD, 109th and 39th. Sure enough there they were on 109th between 40th & 39th. Here are some grainy pictures of our banded friend and his family. That’s it for today. I wasn’t very successful in my identification project beyond the banded guy.
I like to be a good Crow Observer and report whenever I see banded birds. Today on my rounds I was feeding a flock of crows hoping to see a gimpy one that belongs to this area. I did not see the crippled crow but I did get some good pictures of a banded bird. First time I had seen this guy. The last one I saw in March of last year it took me several tries to get a photo. Banded birds tend to be shy but this guy went in for the bread without hesitation.
Face to face with this crow my left he had blue on top of green. The right was red, green and silver. Here are two pictures for the bird trackers of Seattle.
After many times seeing this banded crow I finally got a picture to share of his bands. Looks like facing him the left foot is green on top white and the right foot is red on top of silver.
He hangs out in the alley a lot but this time I saw him at the house where I have seen one of the gimpy crows. Didn’t see that crow today. Remember he is the one who actually still uses his handicapped foot to balance on. Unlike the ones who hop around like a one-legged ballerina.
Here is his pictures for those that track banded crows. This was on 39th Ave SW a couple of houses south from 100th.
Hope this helps the cause for tracking this banded Crow.