We returned to one of our favorite Resorts. It is on Agate Pass off of Bainbridge Island, just a short ferry ride from Seattle. That short ferry ride is part of what we love about this place. Within a half hour you are out of the city and in a whole another world. The resort is owned and run by the Suquamish Tribe and has a fabulous view of Port Orchard Bay.
The totem pole there was originally carved and displayed at the Northgate Mall. When they remodeled a few years back the pole was in disrepair and the tribe adopted it. Now it is all restored and is displayed facing the bay.
Not only do you sight right down the Bay but the trees and the totem pole make a fabulous picture.
The Crow Family that we encountered last year was still in residence. Last year I did a small write-up on the Clearwater family. http://wp.me/p1d1cX-1z
This year when we went out on the balcony they were there right away. I swear they recognized us and were doing fly bys before we even got the peanuts out. Like last year I counted about 10 members to the murder and they certainly make their rounds for good chow. Here is a small video I took of them playing what I call the peanut game. David throws and they catch gladly.
This weeks I was given a grand show by a Pileated Woodpecker. Remember Woody Woodpecker? If you do then you know what they look like; red crest with a black and white body. Known as the third largest woodpecker in North America they make a striking pose when you see them. You might hear them first with a screech that takes you back to cave man times. Yes I almost expect to see a dinosaur around the corner after hearing that sound.
When you hear them drumming on a tree they are not only looking for insects but they are marking out their territory. Like Crows they have a territory and they defend it for sure. It is much bigger in size than the Crows plus they don’t really like each other. That is except their mates who they marry for life.
This particular bird was chowing down on madrona tree berries. I have to wonder if they haven’t started to rot and ferment which would lead to drunk birds. That is a pretty funny sight when it happens. Lastly, I know he is a boy because of the bigger red comb on top and a red streak on his face.
The Crows this week are still in big flocks that when I throw bread become bigger and bigger groups as they tell their friends and relatives that the smorgasbord is open. They followed me from the beach up to the Peanut House. Must be around 35 or 40 of them. Certainly more social than the Woodpecker I saw all by his lonesome in the woods.
For those that are Amanda Knox info hungry. Still no sign of the paparazzi in the neighborhood. Guess she is old news till her book comes out.
The Crows are becoming more and more elusive except when my husband feeds them in the back yard. I decided to go to a different park for my Sunday walk. It is Schmitz Reserve Park which is on the East hill behind Alki Beach. This is basically a ravine with a creek running through it. It was donated to the city between 1908 and 1912 by Ferdinand Schmitz and is apx 53 acres of trails and old growth forest in the middle of the city.
On a previous visit to the park I stumbled upon some great Urban Art painted on the underside of the Admiral Way Bridge that crosses over the park ravine. I confess I was trying to get off the trail into the brush to take a piddle and there was this cool kitty painted on the cement. Once I got down under the bridge I found a flow of art that takes your breath away.
Today when I took a peek to see what the Urban Art looked like it was not recognizable. Now it has eaten itself with ugly tags and someones practice space. What a shame. Then I went for my walk to see the big trees & they did not disappoint. On the way back to the car I found more art that was a surprise as I rounded the bend. An alligator log. Hope you enjoy the pictures of the Street Art and the Big Trees.
Crows are everywhere. All you have to do is become aware of them and there they will be on the wire, in the yard and in the road. Couple weeks ago the subject was territories and how they build them around good feeding areas. As Mike on American Pickers says… “The Honey Hole”. Imagine for a crow what Costco must be. There are lots of people with food products and the always present dumpsters. The little ones dropping their pretzels and pizza in the parking lot make for a true Crow Honey Hole.
Today when I went to our local Costco, which just happens to be Costco Store #1, sure enough there was a small family on light posts and on the building. I watched one do a hover for 15 seconds trying to figure out if he could grab the dropped food product before a person scared him. Crows do have amazing flying abilities but seeing that hover was remarkable. As my luck goes I couldn’t get my camera out fast enough.
Next time you are out and about on your Christmas errands see how many crows you spot. After a while you will find them again and again in the same place. You will have then have identified one of your local Crow Families Territories. Go for it and you will be hooked like me on watching these fascinating birds.
No Crow news today, instead I want to share with you the Estate Sale I went to that was right out of the TV shows Hoarders and American Pickers. Combine a 60’s psychedelic artist and you have a one of a kind adventure.
The sale was in an area that is still part country roads and part new developement complete with strip malls and big box stores. However, off the beaten path was this house that had no electricity and full of stuff. It was a three bedroom rambler with rooms full of books and odd items ranging from artist paints to things collected to incorporate into his art. When I say books I am not kidding. I would say this 1200 sq foot house had well over 1000 books of all types. Stakes and stakes everywhere and all viewed by crawling around things with a flashlight.
The best part though was the garage, it was still being excavated by other pickers and the sale employee told me they kept finding odd art items they had no clue were there. This is when I started taking pictures.
Words don’t really explain this place so here is a series of pictures to give you an idea of how much stuff was in the house, garage and shed. Stacked with art, books and stuff.
Crow families are a lot like us humans. When old man winter blows into town they stay close to home. They get together into their bigger family groups and hang out close to the best feeding spots in their territories. That might be a beach area or a family that feeds them. They might even have more than one honey hole feeding spot. When they go in group to another place within their home range they will leave a guardian. Then if another crow family invades or if food is doled out that guard crow can put out the call for all to come on home.
This last week I checked out my crow families in the area. For those that like data here are the spots and counts I took.
Marine View Drive & 114th – 6 members including my gimpy crow Ellie
Peanut House on 35th – apx 40 – it was high tide. When it is low tide they usually only have one or two here. Great example of a Murder with two honey holes.
Our House – every morning our neighbor starts the day with peanuts to Mocha’s family. Then my husband gives them bread. apx 10 members in our home group. Like the Peanut house they leave a guard crow when they travel away.
104th & 41st – small family of 3
Roxhill Garden – apx 30 members. This must be a great honey hole & that is why the numbers are so great. They also range into Roxhill Park where there is lots of tender handouts. Again, guards are posted around the key areas. Easy to see them since it is more urban next to the school with light poles and buildings to hang out on.
30th & 104th – small group of 3 hanging out next to the swampy drainage area that this street turns into.
31st & 106th – another small family with 2 members
That is well over 100 crows in a couple of square miles that I have observed. One has to figure there are at least twice that. Or am I fooling myself since they all look-alike. That’s right, we can’t tell them apart but they sure remember who we are.
Final Note on another subject – The Amanda Knox paparazzi seem to have disappeared or made themselves very thin. Makes one pretty happy that they are not bugging her family like crazy locust any more.
I decided with it being high tide time and about 35 degrees outside I would go to the woods. Being next to the water would make it colder than under the tree canopy.
The Crows were not active which I attribute to the cold. One thing of note was I saw the gimpy crow that lives around 39th and 106th. Couldn’t get a good picture clicked off before she disappeared so I’m going with a slide show of the fall leaves. Seemed like I kept seeing the most glorious fall colors and before I knew it I had a bunch of photos.
Today’s walk was about an hour after high tide so the beach crow family was up on 35th SW by the Peanut House. They started demanding their bread before I even got to the usual spot. The crew numbered about the usual 35 or so. They followed me around the hair pin corner up MVD towards the Beach trail crossing over the territory boundaries they had observed all summer. None really followed me down the trail but I heard a few down at the beach cawing. I fed a few but they were distracted by a pair of Eagles and played tag with them.
The tide was up fairly high. I had a small swatch of sand to walk down and it was pristine smooth with small pebbles. Then I saw the bunny. At first it looked so real I thought it was a dead rabbit on the beach. When I got closer it became clear it was a stuffed bunny. Some poor child is now mourning its loss.
I felt so bad for the little plush bunny I found a nice driftwood log for him to sit up on. There he can dry out and not be washed back out into the sound. Maybe some other child will find him and love him in the future.
It is odd to see something like this on the beach. The usual trash is an assortment of bottles, floats, chairs, plastic bags and tires. Never have I seen a toy like this. After saving the bunny from floating away, I traveled down the beach to see what the Crows were doing. They were still chasing the eagle but I figured I could throw some bread and see how many came. Never got to do that because when I went to crawl under the big tree that blocks the beach I found another toy. This big tree is called High Tide Fort and it has tons of driftwood hung up on it. It also hangs out so far into the Sound that if the tide is up one has to climb over and thru the logs. While I was balancing myself on the driftwood I saw her stuck under them. She is a big doll, probably 3 feet tall and stark naked. Her hair and head were stuck face down in the wood pile. Check out her poor tangled mess.
I managed to get her out of the driftwood and then pulled a blackberry vine out of her hair. She was now covered in sand and required a bath in the surf. Took her up to the junk pile we have for all the bottles and other debris we find on our beach. There is a broken up green lawn chair that was perfect for her to sit in and view her kingdom from. Being a modest woman I had to find something to cover her nakedness with. Not even a good plastic bag in sight so it ended up being a big piece of brown kelp to make her look more presentable.
Dang her hair is a mess!!
Lastly, I had to take a good picture of her poor mop.
That’s it for this Sunday. Not much on the Crows but some strange beach debris.
Last week at the beach the Murder was well over 60 strong. Today I figured that being fall/winter time that they would all be there again. I was so wrong. The group was maybe 20 members today. From how they behaved when I fed them, I would say they were the usual family that is at the beach year round.
That leads me to the topic of today’s blog, where do the crows go? Why one day is there a huge flock and then another there is only the resident birds?
Another thing I have been watching is as I drive home the crows are flying in formation to the south and east. Working in the Renton valley every year we witness thousands of crows in the evening on the buildings and in the trees around Springbrook Creek Wildlife Area. Do the crows in my neighborhood go there too? Or do they have another place they congregate?
Lastly, why do they roost in such big groups? The bird researchers claim it is to share feeding sites and sleep together for protection. Could that be all it is? Or do they find mates? Do they teach their youngsters Crow Lore? Do they share stories and tips on best nesting sites? Do we really know what these very smart birds are doing and thinking?
Many unanswered questions. Some will never be answered. This Crow Stalker might just have to go for a dusk time drive to follow them to solve the where do they go question.
Yesterday was a wonderful fall day in Seattle. It’s crystal blue skys, low tide and warmer weather made for a great walk to the beach. On the way I fed my usual Crow Families on MVD. The gimpy crow I call Ellie was there which put my mind at ease that she wasn’t the one that drowned a couple of weeks ago. I was worried that since she has that bad leg she was the one who got bumped in group flight and landed in the drink at high tide.
Today the tide was an average low tide exposing about half of the beach and a few crows were feeding on the seaweed all pushed up from the low tide earlier. When I started to feed the bread I noticed in the distance the local Murder of Crows in the sky zooming around. They heard there was free food to be had and started flying towards me. The first five photos in the slide show attached gives you a good idea of what that was like. The last two photos are of them going back up over the Sound and up in the Madrona Trees. They were having fun for sure.
It is the time of the year that they build up big flocks and the strict territories of the summer disappear. Earlier this week during the day while I was at work, my husband had to chase off this same beach flock from our house. They showed up about 60 strong to beg for bread and peanuts. He said you are too many and threw a small firecracker at them. That ended the party quickly. They are way too smart and finally figured out where we live. I”m sure they will be back and join Mocha’s family who own the territory around us.