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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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 will leave you with a video of these two squirrels doing their dance. Hope you enjoyed the Terrible Twos.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Check out this crow going in for a dip at the main pool.
The main pool is pretty special with a bit of greenery and a sloping beach down to the water.
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.
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.
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.
Hope you learned a little bit more about this lovely place in nature called “the Crow Pool”.
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.
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.
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.
The tide was out and several starfish were clinging to the pilings above the water line.
See what I mean about the pilings marching into the surf? How about a closer look at the starfish?
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.
Enjoy your summer by looking for adventure and new things where ever you go.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.