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”.
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.
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.
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.
I was born many years ago in a cedar tree nest. My family owned a wonderful home and the surrounding area. Plenty of food, places to play and watch for the bad guys. That was our home territory.
When I got older my parents passed down to us the cedar grove. We raised our family there and kept the place safe for our extended murder.
Now I am grandma crow and my favorite time is how we all fly to the valley to see our friends.
Have you ever been to the Renton Valley and seen a horde of crows fly by at dawn or dusk? That is the big roost in motion before we settle down for an evening nap. Many think we are just one big batch of crows. They are so wrong!
During the fall and winter we crow families at an hour or so before dark all fly together to meet our friends. Some we meet on the way, some we meet there and best of all we have plenty of stories to share.
Batgirl who is writing this for me said that the reason she wanted to interview me was because of what she saw last week.
As she waited down in all that pile of human junk to hit the big black band they travel on, she saw a group of crows. They were flying to the south through Renton to the roost. That was when she noticed a small group land on the hotel there. They one by one followed their leader to gather up before they hit the big crowd. Other crows flew on but this family thought it was a good place to make sure the kids were all accounted for.
At dawn we do the same thing. Get up and say good bye to the big murder. Then head home to have breakfast and check on our home turf.
You see we do have our family ways. We stick together and make sure each crow is looked after, even a grandma like me.
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.
Buried deep inside of Discovery Park is none other than a sewer treatment plant. This large park has trails that skirt the perimeter of the plant. The dense brush and trees along the tall cement fence disguise its presence. That is except the occasional whiff of sewer.
I traveled the North Beach Trail which is sandwiched between the plant, the beach and a lagoon enjoying the winter day. First I found a flock of ducks bathing in the lagoon. Not too far from them I stopped to try to catch a glimpse of a wren or chickadee I heard calling. I did not see the small bird but did see a family of crows perched in trees on the rim of the plant. Serendipity lead me to my black friends. I would have just kept on down the trail and never seen them.
To help you see them here is a little closer view. They have moved around but now you can see them better.
One of the small trees that is bare of leaves is a perfect place to watch the world. Plus I bet this is the leader of the pack.
As is common this time of year there are mates hanging out close to each other.
As luck would have it I got a lift off shot. Yes this is luck cause one cannot click the shutter fast enough if you see them in flight like this. I was just taking a bunch of photos in sequence knowing I would get something good. That is bird photography.
The trail was busy and several folks stopped to ask me what I was seeing. I get a mixed reaction when I talk about the Black ones. Never fails that their legend of evil has outweighed their true nature of smart and family orientation. This little murder of about 10 crows have it made is what I told one couple. They have food from the workers at the plant, the park traffic and natures bounty in the forest and shoreline.
As I left I gave them a peanut treat. Never hurts to make sure they know I am one of the good humans. Then off I went to find my way back up the bluff to the parking lot. As I headed down the trail I spotted a guard in a tree. That is right, they always have guards on duty to make sure the core flock is safe from intruders or the goodness of dropped food on the trail.
On my journey back I came across an overlook of the Treatment Plant. Right away I saw a crow on the wall. Here is a photo of the bigger view there. This actually faces back towards the lagoon and where I had found the main body of the murder.
He proceeded to fly down to a small tree between the two fir trees, kind of behind the blue guard shack. Never know where a meal might have been discarded or lost by some poor human!
Something caught my eye in the distance and I was curious if I could see the main murder in the distance. There they were!! If you look carefully in the photo above just to the right of the cement tank you can see them in the trees.
First I want to share a zoomed photo of my suspected leader of the pack on a tall tree.
Then I saw a pair up in a tree over there on the west boundary near the North Beach Trail. They jumped down on the wall of the Plant. I was quick enough to get them in the tree but not for their landing on the fence. Next they drifted down into the plant out of sight.
The sewer treatment plant has lots of man-made things for crows to perch and observe us from. Nothing like the silent black fellows hanging out mysteriously.
The pair on the rail flew off and left the designated guard in a nearby tree to keep an eye on things. Hope you enjoyed the doings of the West Point Treatment Plant Crow Murder.
Just north of where I-405 crosses Monster Road and the Longacres Entrance Units Relics stand I have observed a Crow family that seem to hang out on the railroad tracks. Here is a link to the article that started my Longacres historical adventure – Longacres Relic
The first time I saw them was back last summer when a little baby was doing the momma momma cry right on the rails.
Here is a little video so you can see what I mean.
When I went back in November last year here was the family a little south of I-405 and north of the train station along the same rails. Another clue that this territory is owned by a murder.
That brings us to yesterday. I swung by the entrance units to see what was up with a skatepark that was built next to them. For your viewing pleasure here is a link to the new post I did today on the latest developments. Longacres Relics and Skate-park under I-450
This place has a funny loop of a road that is the left over from before the freeway was built in the 1960’s. This comes along the railroad, goes under I-405 and then between the two entrance units. At the north end where I saw the baby crow over a year ago there was this proud crow staking out their home. (the main picture at the top is a close up of this same crow yesterday)
What I did not notice until I put the photos on my computer is the well done graphic of Rocky the Flying Squirrel of cartoon fame. This is the Family Fun Center over on the other side of the tracks.
So, why would a crow family find this railroad area their home. I think it is a combination of human food access and wild areas. This is an unusual combination of old, new, developed and undeveloped. Close at hand is the Fun Center with many children running around with food product. There is a major train station to the south too. Right close to where I found them is the skate-park and off on the west side of the tracks per the skaters is a homeless encampment.
Sweet!! Lots of free food for the family. Combine that with nooks and crannies, trees and bushes to have a nursery and you have crow home.
If you live close to corvids, watch and see if you can’t identify a family’s territory. We may not be able to recognize them but bet you it is the same team beating out a living.