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 in Renton

Snow Gone – Time for Baby Crows

This time of year I get excited in anticipation of crows huddling into pairs, pulling sticks and building a new nursery.

On the March 8th, lo and behold, there was a crow fighting with a stick in the maple trees. I take that as a sign that spring is here and the snow is really over here in Seattle.

This tenacious guy or gal got free of the tree branches with the treasure and headed south. I ran into the next room to see where the nest site was.  To bad the crow was faster than I and had disappeared down the street.  Watch out Mr Crow I am watching for you and will find your home yet.

You see if you want to know where a bird nest is you need to be alert early in the season for those tell-tale sticks, moss and other building materials carried in beaks.

This year I don’t have a photo yet of the stick masters but do have a couple of the local crow pair getting an afternoon treat.

Unfortunately, the pine trees outside my window have died in the last year.  I had been sad by this for several months. The first one to turn brown and go was the nest tree from last year. Then his mates to the north went and now the ones to the south are going. The nest tree got cut down by our landscapers and the rest will be gone soon I bet.

The crow family confirm my suspicious that a beetle has found a crack in the trunks and mined them to death. Here are a few picks of them having a snack.

Afternoon treat for Mr Crow

If you want to learn more about sticks and crows here are a few posts I have accumulated over the years.

Too Many Sticks – says Mr. Crow

Magic Sticks

Posted in Baby Crows, Crows in Renton

Empty Nest!

Monday (the 4th of June) I came back looking for my baby crows who were busting out of their nest Friday. Remember weeks ago I estimated they would fledge around the 1st, however, I thought they seemed so young to actually leave the nest.

Guess what they had fled the nest over the weekend and my heart sunk at the end of my baby crow love fest. At first I did not see them and kind had given up on ever seeing them again. After a bit of searching I found the big brother in the maple tree next to the nest tree.

Found the oldest – he is in several trees over from the nest tree

Baby was missing and I worried cause he was so young but then mom came flying in and there he was still in the nest tree several branches down.

empty nest tree – baby hiding in boughs below

As the day progressed baby stayed put and big brother kept trekking across the trees.

Found oldest in Pine on the left
Oldest is moving quick to Pine on left.

Mid day I lost track of oldest and figured that was it. Went out and looked in the street and around making sure he did not meet his fate with a car. Did not see anything so figured he flew successfully across the street. Baby did not leave his branch and mom kept visiting him.

Next day Tuesday the 5th I came in to find baby still on his branch.

Baby is still in the nest tree – not coordinated enough to jump from branch to branch

Then there was the oldest in the second pine to the left of the nest tree.  Here is a view of all the trees so you can see how far he has gotten. That is the dark green tree to the right of the tree that partially obscures the IKEA sign. The next tree is the crooked tree another 4 over.

view of all the trees – nest tree is the short dark green one on the right – oldest got all the way to the far left trees so quickly

Oldest got into the farthest pine tree and I got a video of him playing around.

Here is my last shot of oldest in that far tree.

Tuesday oldest in another pine tree further away – one of my last photos of him

Wednesday dawns. Baby is still in the nest tree and mom has an interlude with him that I could not resist.

Baby still in nest tree and mom comes to check on him
mom hanging out with baby who is still in next tree
Mom is not impressed by baby big pink mouth
Feed me is all baby can say
Mom gives baby the crow mom eye while he begs

And a video for you to watch their interaction

That afternoon baby finally got courage and moved to the maple tree off to the left. Basically following brother into fledghood.

Baby finally got out of nest tree

Here is the video I took of baby moving around and becoming a big crow.

Late in the afternoon I walked around the trees looking for big brother. Baby was still in the maple. Then out of nowhere came three adults really pissed. They gave me hell about being around their baby, I think the brother was in the brush somewhere but decided to leave.  Those crows made a compelling case for me to get the hell out of dodge. Oh and all along I thought there was only two adults. Guess I was wrong about that.

The next day, Thursday, I didn’t see baby any more. A little walk around and the nagging adults came back. They even were working over folks walking along the sidewalk. My instincts tell me the babies were there but hidden.

Today, Monday the 11th, no sign of the babies. The nest is empty and my crow gift of watching them build, sit, hatch and raise babies is over.

Treasure the moment is all I can say when you are given a gift of nature.

I leave you with the last shot of baby.

Last picture of baby in maple nest to nest tree – 6/6/18
Posted in Baby Crows, Crows in Renton

Life in a Crow Nest

The Renton Crow nest outside my window is getting a bit crowded. Two baby crows and parent are starting to push the limit of the stick basket the parents built. My baby crow math has them at about 4 weeks old and have about another week to go before they adventure out onto the tree limbs.

Big brother looking over younger brother

If you eyeball them next to their parents they do seem to be about 3/4 adult size or maybe even bigger than that. Imagine having to share this little space with your baby brother/sister for another week while stretching and flapping your wings.

This week I got two good videos of the activity. The first is from Tuesday 5/29 my first day back after the holiday weekend. They are busy preening and picking at their feathers. They still have this waxing tube like thing over some of their feathers (called a feather sheath). This needs to be cleaned off.

Fast forward to Friday 6/1. I swear every day they get bigger, less fluffy and their beaks start to be the right size for their face. I think of baby crows feet and beaks like puppies and kittens. They too have oversize paws to their body size.  Kind of goofy cute!

One of them is in serious training by stretching and flapping. When mom shows up he gets even busier. Kind like he has to show off to her that he is ready to leave the nest. You see she is pushing them to fledge. It is not that safe in the nest and by moving them to different places every night the parents are increasing their chance of getting their babies to adulthood.

Here is a series of photos showing their cuteness throughout the day.

Fluffy Baby Crow in Pine Tree Posing – see sibling behind the boughs?
Baby Crows – which is older by a few days? Hard to tell.
Fluffy and downy feathers show well in this light.
Good look at the pink mouth which is a giveaway that this is a young crow.
Dang this nest is getting small mom!
Baby in training by flapping and stretching
Check out the waxy coating on the baby’s wing feathers.

So, another week in the crow nest passes. Next week I hope we will see the babies get even more active and show off the skills they are practicing this week.


Posted in Crows in Renton

Bigger every Day!

This last week the two baby crows in the pine tree out my window continue to grow quickly. I noticed the oldest is darker now and looks less like a hairless bird. His beak isn’t quite as big in comparison to his body either.

Stretching out to see the world

When you see the two babies side by side as in this short video, you can see how the elder is larger and has more feathers. Amazing what even a few days difference in their hatching can make. It must be getting tight fit in that nest and they are not even half way to adult size. Have to imagine all hell will break loose in another week or two.

This next series of shots shows parent and babies interacting. This pair of adult crows are working their tail feathers off to keep their brood fed and groomed. Both show up together at times confirming that they are working in tandem. I have not seen a helper watching in the trees close by. That is fairly common but my pair in Renton are on their own.

Mom feeds littlest crow while older sits under mom
Mom keeps busy taking care of twin baby crows

Been away for 5 days on vacation/holiday, so I am excited to get back to work on Tuesday to see how they are doing.

Word of caution for both myself and all of you. Baby crows are fragile. I try hard to contain myself and not get too attached. One stroke of bad luck is all it takes.  That is why I had a nightmare weeks ago of a cat climbing their tree. The parents were dive bombing when I work up with a start.

See this crow stalker is really part of the murder.

Posted in Crows in Renton

Crow Team Baby Raising

Team Crow have been busy raising their babies. As of Friday May 11th I had still not seen the babies. I saw a flash of pink but the photo I have is inconclusive.

To keep you engaged in this crow nest I do have some activities to share.  One is how they work together on the feeding and the second is some serious cleaning activities.  Pooping babies require constant attention.

Here is mom sitting on the nest hanging out and along comes dad.

Mom gets up and moves to the right behind the pine boughs and lets dad bring in some goodies.

He gets busy and pokes his head into the nest and feeds the little ones.

Then between shots he is gone!

Mom peeks into the nest to make sure all are situated.

Then she gets back ontop of them.

Now lets talk about some serious cleaning. The photo at the very top is her butt up in the air as she preens the babies and nest. A still photo does not give this activity justice so I took a short video.

Enjoy!!  And tomorrow we will see what the weekend has brought. I still caution everyone, baby birds are fragile and attacks on nests are common.


Posted in Baby Crows, Crows in Renton

All but the Waiting Now

A couple of weeks have passed since I wrote about our Renton Crow Nest outside my window. It is not easy being expectant parents, even for a pair of crows. So, I am happy to tell you that when I left on Friday that the nest was still being sat upon.

How about we do a little baby crow math?  The first thing is how long have they been sitting there on those eggs. The first day I saw her/him sitting in the nest more than a few minutes was on Thursday April 12th. On the next Monday the 16th it was a serious sitting and no nest building. That was the day she had a bit of a kerfuffle with another crow mentioned in my prior post.

The approximate egg incubation is about 19 days. Yes do the math!!  That makes it about time to start having little mouths to feed. I wrote in my crow diary the 4th or so would be it. On Friday (the 5th) they were a bit more active and were exchanging time on the nest. Best thing I saw was their head first into the nest. Could we have some hatching?

Next critical date would be when do they fledge (leave the nest)?  That is another 35 days which is around the first week of June. Ahhh to see the youngsters dancing in the tree tops will be a treat indeed.

A word of warning here! Crow babies or for that fact any bird baby do have a pretty high mortality rate. A lot of things can go wrong from too hot, too cold, not enough food and a predator finding the nest. Here is mom panting on a rather warm day a week ago.

Let us hope for the best.

Posted in Crows in Renton

Time for Sitting

The nursery is decorated and now all there is left to do is to wait.

Since my last blog on the Renton Crow pair who built a nest outside my office window, the nest has grown and been finished with some soft things inside.

On Monday the 2nd of April when I got in, they were still busy. To give you a good feeling of what things look like here is a distance shot.

Broken tree becomes home for a crow family

I couldn’t help zeroing in on the rope looking thing in the nest. Here is that shot. Anything will do to get the babies a good place to live.

Rope and sticks make a nest

Speaking of building and lining the inside, here is a photo of tail up. The crow is head down fixing up things nice.

Tail up!! Getting it ready for the kids.

By the 6th the nest has grown a bit more. Check it out & see the rope?

April 6th is here and the crows are not going away

Thursday the 12th you can see there is still some fluffing going on.

The 12th and the nest is just about done

Friday the 13th she is sitting in there hanging out.

Patience is a moms virture

Then I swear in this photo she is looking right at me thru the window.

Friday the 13th – nest sitting to be safe

Monday the 16th we had a bit of excitement. It happened so fast I have no pictures. There she was sitting in the nest and another crow kept coming over and landing next to her. She got more than a little pissed. The first time she just chased them out & went back to sitting. However, the second round she actually chased them across the street and over the buildings there.

I have been wondering if this was a nest robber? Perhaps jealousy and going to destroy the eggs? or was it her mate? She basically chased him away so he would not be a clue for others to know she was sitting. I almost think it was a spouse squable around keeping things a secret.

Here is a photo of a crow in the tree, which I have not seen since.

Watcher on 16th.

Then the 17th here she is showing the tail end.  Most of the time she sits head headed south. This rare shot is her headed north.

Tis the 17th and I am still here

Thursday the 19th I got a good close up of her just sitting patiently.

Peeking out at you on the 19th.

And took a little video of her doing her thing.

Friday brings the weekend and here she is showing us her tail again. Hope you enjoyed the adventure with me.  A bit like watching paint dry but just wait till there are babies!!

Friday the 20th!! Made it a week!
Posted in Crows in Renton

Crow Nest under Construction

How about a little series of photos showing the progress my Renton Crow family made this week building their nursery?  Might seem a little boring but for those that are big crow or bird fans here is a chance to see how it happens.

To get you started here is where we left off on Thursday 3/22/18.  Plus a link so you can see the video of the pair too.

Team Crow start building

Crow nest in Renton, WA – 3/22

I was off work on the following Friday, so the next photo I have is from Monday the 26th.

Monday 3/26 am – Renton Nest

It is subtle but the size is growing upward to form a deep bowl so no baby will fall out.  That day I also got this shot of one of the pair’s tail sticking out as they work away on their new home.

Working away

Tuesday came and the nest is still seeing a lot of action.

Tuesday around 2pm – nest is growing before our eyes

Sometime Tuesday before the above picture was taken, some frayed rope, fur or natural fiber appeared stuck to a branch.  See it middle of the nest pile?  I am going to try to get a better photo next week of that.

View of tree top with mom/dad working away on Tuesday

This tree shot gives you some perspective of how the tree has a broken top. This lends to a good foundation for the crows and a perfect view for me out of my window.  The tree got damaged in an ice storm that happened about 5 years ago.

Wednesday came and construction is moving along.

Wednesday 3/28 – 8am snapshot of crow nest

Now it is Thursday and here is a new view of how big this crow nest is getting.

Renton nest grows more – this is Thursday 3/29 around 8:45am

This brings us to Friday and our last view until I go back to work tomorrow.

Time for the weekend – Crow Nest Friday 3/30 – almost 2pm

Stay tuned for more on our favorite crow family next week.

Posted in Baby Crows

Secretness of Crows

This crow way up at the top of the fir tree was on the wire holding a stick. Then he went flying by me to this tree. See in picture above how that stick he has is poking out to the right side of him?

Here is a photo of another crow with a stick to give you an idea of how he looked before he got to the tree plus a wide angle look at the neighborhood he is living in.

Off to do some home improvements with this piece of lumber

General view of Mr Crow in the small fir tree

Not so fast this crow said! When he saw me, he tucked his stick into the tree top. He (she) did not trust me or thought maybe a peanut was coming soon. The stick could be retrieved later.

I tried waiting him out by hiding a little behind my coat collar. Turned away and waited some. But every time I looked back he was still watching me and no heading to the nest with the stick.

Crows are just so secretive. They know their children’s future is precarious and so they don’t want anyone to know where they are or are going to be.

In this photo below you can see how he stashed that stick.  See the stick poking out on the left of him? It is all ready for future retrieval when the coast is clear!

Crow stashed stick in tree while he watched me below.

I get excited this time of year because as I see the sticks fly by they lead me to where the nest will be. Baby crows are in our future!