Posted in Crows of the Hood

What my 39th Avenue Gimpy Crow can Tell 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.

Great Balancing act for this gimpy crow on a car roof rack.
Good shot of Gimpy Crow’s bad foot.

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.

gimpy crow on 39th showing her bad leg
Gimpy means you just have to be smarter

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.

Photo shows the disabled leg of gimpy 39th crow
39th Gimpy Girl shows her crouch off

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.

See gimpy foot as she sits on the bird bath
Using gimpy foot to balance

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.

Hanging out on a car rack for better balance


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.

Take off shows how she dangles one leg.

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.

April of 2017 – eating her peanut in the gravel near 106th & 39th SW

We made it to today. Here she is on the wire after grabbing a nut.  Got that balancing act down.

Today Feb 2018 – here she is still on 39th Ave SW

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.


Posted in Crows in Renton

Renton Gimpy Crow

Crows with bad legs or feet are more common than you might think. I have several in my neighborhood of West Seattle that I have tracked over the years.

This last couple of weeks I have seen a youngster limping around our parking lot. I finally got a few photos of him to share.

More important than just finding another poor disabled crow is the fact that their gimpyness allows me to recognize them. How do you tell crows apart? It is near impossible since they all wear the same black suit and have very few distinguishable markings.

Over the years I have tried to figure this out and wrote two articles on the subject. All I got to say is good luck with telling them apart.

Do you know that crow?

Crows I know

So, back to my local Renton crow that I can watch limp around from my office window. He does seem to be in bad feather since it is molting time. That could be made worse by his not feeling that great. This somewhat fussy photo shows his foot with what seems like white stuff. That is a form of avian pox that can be nasty. Since the photo is a bit poor I am not 100% sure if that is the problem. So.. more to come on that.

Gimpy young crow in Renton - notice left foot
Gimpy young crow in Renton – notice left foot

Don’t feel too sorry for this little guy. Other gimpy crows I have tracked are surviving year after year and even raised families. This crow has not lost all use of his left leg like one I know on 39th Ave SW. He can still get around on it which means he has a good chance of making it. Here is a very short video showing how his gait looks.

Keep your eyes open and you too will see nature and wildlife at your doorstep.

Posted in Crows of the Hood

Gimpy Crow survives

On my way home I fed crows peanuts. Where 39th crosses 106th SW there was one of my gimpy crows.   She (he) snagged a peanut and took it to a yard she often frequents. This must be safe territory for her and she landed on the bird bath there.

See gimpy foot as she sits on the bird bath
See gimpy foot as she sits on the bird bath

This crow has been in my photos and sightings since late in 2012.  Three years later she is surviving well and even was bossy to the other crows in her flock.  They let her go get two of the peanuts before they got their nibbles.  Because I can recognize this crow (try telling them apart) this is a good example of how they inhabit the same territory.  This gimpy crow is always in this area when I spot her.  – check out this post on telling crows apart. Take the quiz and see how you do.

What I found most fascinating was how she used her crippled leg to support herself on the edge of the bird bath as she softened the food in it.

This shows how smart and adaptable our crow friends are. Even when they are dealt a bad leg they make use of what they have.

Crow uses gimpy foot to balance
Crow uses gimpy foot to balance
Posted in Crows of the Hood

Crows I know

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.

Baby Crow Ellie right after saved from cat
Baby Crow Ellie right after saved from cat

A gimpy leg doesn't stop this Crow from getting bread

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.

Good shot of Gimpy Crows bad foot.
Good shot of Gimpy Crows bad foot.

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:

Banded Crow on street sign in Seattle
Banded Crow on street sign in Seattle
Banded Crow with White band around 39th & 102nd.
Banded Crow with White band around 39th & 102nd.

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.

Yum Tortillas for me!!
Yum Tortillas for me!!


Posted in Baby Crows

Sing for my Dinner

Singing will get me dinner...right?
Singing will get me dinner…right?

Baby crows continue to sing for their dinner this week.  However, the parents are now immune to the sound and just let them wait.   The little ones are starting to feed themselves but not until everyone ignores them.  Then they peck around until they find something that remotely resembles food.

While at the beach today I took a series of photos of this family on a log.   I got some good singing baby pictures but when I got home I was surprised.   One of the parents is our gimpy crow from MVD I highlighted a few posts ago.  In the photo below check out the bird’s foot on the right.  See how it is curled and deformed?   That’s my crow!!

I have to confess my better camera’s battery ran out and this series is from my little Canon point & shoot.  Then to get the shot at first I had the sun over exposing the family.   The next photo was earlier & once I started moving around to get the light better the little camera came through with the picture above.  Bird photography is all about shooting the pictures as fast as you can.  One never knows when they will spook and fly away.  I often go for an over exposed picture like the one below vs no picture at all.  No one ever says I took too many pictures…  instead we say dang I didn’t take enough.

Back to our singing baby crow — check out how pink his inner mouth is.   That is a tell-tale sign of a baby crow.  It will turn black when they get older but for now it is a strong visual that he is a baby singing for food.

Gimpy Crow & Singing Baby
Gimpy Crow & Singing Baby
Posted in Crows at the Beach

Gimpy Crow Beach Family Day

This weekend was a minus tide here in the Puget Sound.  When I went to my local West Seattle beach I found that it had been turned into a Crow family day.   Crow parents had brought their youngsters to the tidal area to learn how to forage for themselves.  Ask them how well that was going?   Baby crows are begging machines.  At this stage they can find a few things but any time a parent gets food they are right there in their face crying for a snack.

More exciting was I spotted one of my gimpy crows with a baby.   Nothing has stopped this crow, not even a damaged foot.  This particular crow lives up off Marine View Drive and I have seen her there more often than at the beach.  When she does show up on the beach and I am feeding the masses she usually gets a bite but is very careful.   She is a ballerina on her one leg and lets everyone know around her what she wants.   Here is a link to a prior post highlighting her.

Now the big proof that she can survive with one leg is her little one trailing along at the Beach Family Day.   This video not only shows you how she gets around on one leg but just how impish Baby Crows are at this stage in their development.

Posted in Crows of the Hood

Nub leg Crow

Look close - this crow has only one foot
Look close – this crow has only one foot

Today walking in the alley behind the Barton Pea Patch I fed some crows peanuts.  Then this guy came whizzing by and landed on the bird bath.   I thought he was one of my peanut recipients.  But no… he had bread and to my surprise he was missing a foot.

This is the fourth bird in my area that is gimpy.  I love these guys for two reasons.  One my baby crow Ellie ended up with a bad leg.  Second, this is one way I can tell crows apart; gimpy legs, banded birds, crooked beaks or discolored feathers.

By documenting my identifiable crows I can tell how long they live and what their territories encompass.  Now that I have seen “nubbie” I will be back to get better pictures and document his life.


Posted in Crows on the Road

39th Street Banded and Gimpy Crows

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.

Banded crow with green blue bands – the shy one

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.

Good shot of Gimpy Crows bad foot.

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!

Banded Crow with White band around 39th & 102nd.
Banded crow with white bands – good shot because he isn’t shy of me
Posted in Crows at the Beach

Gimpy Crow and Beach Update

Today went to my beach area and found that the hill that has been sliding for years gave way some more.  We have been having some moderate rain and storms after many days of dry weather.   Fall is here.   This area is very unstable and I won’t sit under it when I am hanging out down there.   For many years some old decks and stairs have been dangling.   Check out the photos to see how they are now on the beach.   You might remember me talk about the Crow Nursery Tree.  This pile of stuff is now off to the side of it.

The other update is on my gimpy crow Ellie.  I had not seen her for several weeks.  The last time was on the beach and she appeared to be quivering and not very strong.   Ever since then I have looked carefully for her and was beginning to think she had passed.  This crow must be around 6 years old and that is a good life span for a cripple.

On my way home from the beach, I saw her on the street behind MVD.   She was just fine and took every peanut I gave her.   Made my day!!

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Posted in Crows of the Hood

Neighborhood Crow Update

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.

    Dancing on one foot on Marine View Drive
  • 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.

    Banded crow waiting for bread