Posted in Crows on the Road

Crows Grubbing Out

We have a little problem in the Northwest these last couple of years.  It is called beetle larvae.  Some folks call it White Grubs.  Whatever they are they are killing lawns with the help of wild critters such as raccoons, otters, skunks and of course my black friends… crows.

They cannot withstand the temptation of a lovely grub meal so they rip and churn the turf to find every last morsel.  I head one person call this attack a “grass massacre”.

Here they are down at Lincoln Park next to the parking lot.

Note: I had to find a tool online to flip this video. Shame on me for recording in vertical.

Back to the crows & their meal. Check out the damage they did to just a small stripe of grass.

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Posted in Baby Crows

Terrible Twos

In our backyard is a small sideshow from two pairs of twins. One set are a pair of baby crows that their parents left in our yard to fend for themselves. Guess it is time for them to grow up and the parents know it is a safe place with some food and water sources. (see them on the fence in the title photo) The other pair are a pesky set of squirrels. Their mom, who we named Rudy, comes around still. We think she has no control over this pair and they are just running amok in fine squirrel form.

Hence we have the Terrible Twos!!

Crows always come before squirrels. Let me introduce you to this pair of little dickens. This first photo shows them on our fence with a good view of the covered patio where the bird feeder hangs. This area has heavy traffic in it’s covered space by birds, squirrels and other critters.

Crow Twin arrive to look for a snack in our backyard
A motley crew of baby crows
Would you name them Heckle and Jeckle? and which one is which?

As usual they are pretty tough to tell apart so here they are individually. Just a pair of baby crow twins trying to make it in the world without much parent help. Tough love is what the crows do or they will beg forever. This way they just have to figure it out.

This is the older of the two and tends to be more polite.
Here the youngest and goofiest of the twin pair.

One of the things they have figured out is how there is seed in the edge around our patio that is full of river rock. Above this is the bird feeder and lots of folks graze on the ground for the stuff that falls out.

The sly approach making sure no one will catch him.
Rocks have treasures under them!!

This little crow has learned quickly how to dig around in the rocks to get his dinner. Hope you enjoy this short video of his ingenious use of his beak to get to the goodies.

Next we will explore how the two twin pairs cross path. This happened when we threw out some old lunch meat for the crows to eat. Yes we are one of those folks who feed crows stuff. Not like some who do it every day in big piles.  Just do this when I have bad food that I think they will like… like lunch meat!!

What happened was the squirrels were curious about what was so exciting in the grass and one decided to investigate.

Squirrel and Crow worlds collide

To help you with how this meeting really went here is a video of the squirrel on the fence. He had better thoughts about half way down the fence post.  Kind of amazing how he clings to vertical wood.

The standoff continued up on the fence. Crows win in the end
Crow seeks snack in grass while twin looks on
Twin one gets his snack
Twin two wasn’t far behind

The squirrels don’t give up and decide a little rock rooting works for them too. They are not as good at moving rocks but they do get some tid bits out of the rock drainage area.

Rock Rooting is for Squirrels too
Twins share the seed bounty

Where the squirrels excel in bratiness is around a barrel we keep garden weeds and cuttings plus any vegetable scrapes from the kitchen. They have their favorite foods and will pass up several things like tomatos and peppers. However if there is avocado skins or chunks/seeds from squash then they are all over it even before we get up in the morning.

I’m just hanging out!! Nothing wrong here!
Waiting for more goodies to come to the barrel
Twin love around the barrel
Avocado skin licked clean
Hoping for some more goodness on skin!

I will leave you with a video of these two squirrels doing their dance.  Hope you enjoyed the Terrible Twos.

Posted in Baby Crows

My Baby Dearest

Ahhh – a mother’s love for her baby. This crow family is no different than humans. They love their families and want only best for their kids.

Watch this mom clean up her whining baby. He wants a snack but mom wants to rid the little rascal of dirt and fluff his growing feathers.

This tale of crow family life began with my hearing the Momma, Momma Baby Crow Caw. Looking up I noticed them on the wire next to the Fauntleroy Preschool.

Mom and Baby hanging out on wire together

I found a good spot across the street. The edge of the sidewalk was lined with bamboo in a raised bed. I sat on the edge of that to get some stability for my photography and got this next shot zoomed in.

Just a little closer

Then I got into some serious zoomed shots and a short video. My favorite of the series is the one with mom’s open beak grooming and baby crying for food. Just a mom and her baby interacting!

With that I leave you with the photos and the video – enjoy this baby crow moment in the middle of your busy human life.

Cute Baby Crow Face – see the telltale poochy corner of his mouth
Baby dear let me cuddle you.
My favorite photo of mom loving baby up
Then they alerted to another crow’s warning of danger
Ah mom – will you knock it off – I am so embarrassed.
See Mom – I can do it myself!!

 

 

Posted in Crows at the Beach

Crow Pool at a Glance

My current favorite spot on the beach deserves a moment in the lime light. Come with me to discover it’s wonderful beaches.

Fauntleroy Creek comes out into the sand and driftwood of Puget Sound right next to the Ferry Dock for the West Seattle to Vashon Island run. Before it joins the sound it parallels the bigger beach creating the famous crow pool and animal beaches.

It is a popular destination for crow families and a few other species. The crows are the main attraction and usually have a ready team of life guards on duty.

Crow Club watching over the pool

Using my best ability to determine who is who in this gang, I am guessing most are male crows. It is their hang out while the moms feed and try to corral the babies. The girls fly in periodically with the whining little ones in tow to this safe zone the boys are guarding.

Guarding the pool is serious business

Let us now highlight the pool itself. The creek flows along between the logs and actually has three distinct beaches. Check out the lay of the land before we go into each pool.

Fauntleroy Creek creates several beaches and bathing pools

The favored pool is at the top of the picture. It is the most secure area and it is the favored area. The lifeguard crows are always vigilant around this one. Conveniently it has a natural lifeguard shack that an observer can use to watch over the antics.

Pool Crow Guard

Check out this crow going in for a dip at the main pool.

It is not a shadow but rather a crow bather

The main pool is pretty special with a bit of greenery and a sloping beach down to the water.

Closer look the Main Crow Pool

Check out how the sand gently slopes down – easy access for all birds

A few logs and a bit to the north is the middle pool. This is basically an overflow area for when the main beach gets crowded. That can happen when the whole murder want to have a dip or drink. In my counts of this flock I estimate it is around 50 individuals.

Mid pool – not as secure by still has good beach access

Then we have the third beach. This is a bit more north towards the dock and where my viewing area is just at the edge of the dock. The photo below is what it looks like in my spot. It is out of the sun and a bit secretive so the crows will not be bothered by the my observations of them.

My viewing area slightly under the ferry dock. The Crow pool is to the left of this shot.

The last beach I call the Other Species Beach. This was where I found the gimpy duck and other little birds who want a drink. I have noticed quite a few pigeons here too. Like the crows the pigeons feed on all the human food left behind. Plus they have a perfect place to hang out up in the rafters of the dock.

The Other Species Pool/Beach

Hope you learned a little bit more about this lovely place in nature called “the Crow Pool”.

Posted in Birds and other fun topics

Day at the beach with the Crows

Lovely day in Seattle down at the Ferry Dock that goes between Vashon Island and Fauntleroy on the Seattle side. On the south side of the dock the Fauntleroy creek meets Puget Sound. Depending on the tide it meanders next or under the giant dock.

Today’s adventure finds crows bathing and some star fish clinging to the pilings.  Lets go take a peek.

This piece of beach has a small crow murder (aka flock) that own all the goodness that falls from the ferry terminal. It is also a great place because of the fresh water the creek provides for drinking and bathing. I have written several posts about them frolicking around the creek and beach.  Here is one on Crow Cleanliness

Today was just as enchanting with them bathing in the flowing creek all together.

The dock draws us all – birds, water creatures and humans

Group of Crows enjoying the fresh water of Fauntleroy Creek

A still photo does not do this justice like a video. I have to note that YouTube did not like my first title which was Murder bathing together. Thought it was clever to use the crow flock word but the sensors did not. Had to rename it before I could publish it publicly.  Kind of reassuring that they are watching after how bad people have used the site for very awful things.

Before I caught the group getting all wet this single crow did his thing all alone.

Private bath time for this crow

The dock had it’s own drama. The pilings hold up all the cars waiting for the ferry. They march down the beach into the water.  Here is an emergency ladder that we doubt has been used in a long time.

Ladder at ferry dock in West Seattle.

The tide was out and several starfish were clinging to the pilings above the water line.

Purple and Orange Starfish cling to ferry dock piling

See what I mean about the pilings marching into the surf? How about a closer look at the starfish?

Starfish locked together

Even closer you can see their roughness and how one has two arms that are more skeleton looking. Not sure what is going on & my quick research did not explain it.

Two Starfish on ferry dock piling

Enjoy your summer by looking for adventure and new things where ever you go.

Posted in Crows of the Hood

Rooftop Crow Love

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.

Crow Love for all to see in West Seattle

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.

Home is where the heart is for these two crows.

Posted in Crows at the Beach

Crows Patrolling Young Bald Eagle

Crows and Eagles have a hate relationship. Lets say there is no love lost between them.  This weekend down on the Puget Sound beach (great low tide) I caught a young bald eagle flying around.

At first a couple crows would take turns chasing the eagle.  They were on guard patrol.  I heard at least two baby crows crying in the madrona forest on the hillside. This made me worry that the eagle wanted a quick snack. This is what the pursuing crew of crows are trying to prevent. If they chase the bigger bird away, then he won’t find their precious nursery sites.

After a few pass over the bluff, the eagle landed in a madrona tree. This is where I got my camera out and took a few pictures. The first one is a distant view that will give you perspective of what I mean by madrona forest on the hillside.

Madrona’s growing on bank overlooking Puget Sound. Eagle and crows are in the tree sticking out on the right (center of photo)

As you can see this tree is a long ways from where I am down on the beach.  A telephoto lenses and a good pair of binoculars are a must to sort out what these the birds are really doing up there.

This photo is a bit closer to the action.  The red arrow shows you the dark blob that is the eagle.  The blue arrow is the guard crow making sure the family knows where the pesky predator is.

Eagle & Crow in madronas – red is eagle & blue is crow

Now that you know where the players are hanging out here is a little more zoom on the camera shot.  You can clearly see the eagle blob is more than just tree.

Closer view of Eagle & Crow standoff

Then another crow decided he needed to get up close and personal with the eagle. He landed on a branch on the same tree as the big bird. Before he did that he did a fly by & swooped as near as possible.  This also gives you a better look at the eagle.  It is a bit tough cause he is on the other side of all the trees branches.

Crow Guard #2 flew in for a closer look

Getting even closer with the camera zoom, I am trying to tell which way the eagle is facing. I think he is looking away from me towards the south. His perch is such that we are looking thru the tree at him. It is open on his side so there is a clear view of the water and likely snacks he is seeking.

Which way is the eagle facing?

To wrap this up – here is a really zoomed view of the eagle. I think we are looking at his butt but I will let you decide.  Nothing like an eagle butt to make us all giggle like little kids.

Closest photo of juvenile eagle

 

 

Posted in Crows of the Hood

Crow Doings in the Hood

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.

Lincoln Park nest building crow

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.

 

The perfect stick picker

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.

Crow nest right above this intersection

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.

See the dark area above the light? that is the nest.

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.

Can you see it now?

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.

Lot of sticks went into this crow nursery.

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.

Crow Nest – Arbor Heights 39th SW & Marine View Drive

Want to know more about crows and sticks?  Here are two articles I have accumulated over the years:

Crow Stick Wizard

Too Many Sticks to Get

Plus here is a post on a crow nest as it is built over time.

Crow Nest Construction

Posted in Crows on the Road

Car Wash Crows

Yesterday I went Brown Bear Car Wash to wash some of the winter dirt off. As I was sitting in line I saw a pair of crows on a wire overlooking the entrance of the wash.

As it goes with wildlife photos, by the time I got my camera out they took off. Then it was my turn to pay and get into the tunnel of soap. The lady taking my money asks me if my rear mirror ornament crow was a raven or a crow.  Then her buddy comes over and tells me how much they love it.

My car rear view mirror crow ornament

Crow or Raven? – I always thought crow but maybe it is a raven

I told them about the pair of crows I saw, and to my delight they said they nest on top of the building there. Plus how a co-worker is so obsessed in a bad way about them.  They were giggling about how crazed this person was and they loved the crows.

Then it was time to get my car clean. After I got out I drove around to the other side of the building and took a few photos. The sun glare made them not the best but you can see how crows know a good thing. A place with food, friendly people and water.  Plus the Des Moines Marina and beach were only a block away.  Crow heaven.