Tis the season for crows mobbing our building at dusk before they all get cozy in their night-time roost. This week we and the crows all admired the crimson sunset.
A little video really shows you the wonder of this crow herd swooping and frolicking in the sunset.
After the stream of crows whipping by they landed in the trees to the south of us.
Everyone got settled in for the last few minutes of daylight before it is nap time over in the wildlife reserve. An empty semi-truck went thru the intersection below and set off a big bang. Then all hell broke loose as they flew up and out. Then they just went back to the trees and went back to their crow business.
Come for a ride with me into the Renton Roost of a thousand or more crows.
This week they came flying into our parking lot across from IKEA. At first it was a few that landed in the trees. They arranged themselves like Christmas ornaments. I snapped a few shots of them perched and flying around between family units.
It was not quite dark yet so they were a gathering storm of crows getting ready to go to the Renton Wildlife Sanctuary. The energy is growing as the crowd grows. More and more birds are flocking into the trees around me.
Then all hell broke loose and I switched to video. It was a sight to behold as they fly in a big swarm. I hope you are as amazed as I at their ability and how a thousand heartbeats can all be in the sky at one time!
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.
This week the crow roost in Renton continued to grow in size. Plus when I arrive to the parking lot when it is barely dawn, I get to see them fly off towards their home territories.
I was rewarded one morning with a parade overhead of the murder who live east on the hill behind Valley General Hospital. There was many of them flying in small family units and talking to each other.
Now when I said talk you must have thought of the crow harsh caw sound. There was some of that too but most of what I heard was more intimate. They were chuckling and cooing to each other. A little crow early morning family chatter.
A couple of weeks ago I heard one of our local crows imitating a chicken. My head must have swiveled off my neck when I heard it. But there was no chicken in sight and the crows were sitting right on my fence making that sound. What is that? a Crow Trickster?
What does all that crow chatter mean? Not sure we really know but here is a link on some interesting analysis done by others.
Best of all, I kind of like this quote by Bernd Heinrich who is a famous Raven Scientist.
He states in “Ravens in Winter” the following, which seems equally true for the American crow as the Common Raven.
“We have hardly begun to decipher the language of the raven. Its dictionary so far contains but a few ‘words’. Perhaps our analysis has been too coarse-grained to catch the meanings. Our research has been something like that of aliens from outer space who make sonograms of human vocalizations under different situations – eating, playing, loving, fighting, etc. Certain differences noted in frequency, intonation, and loudness are correlated with feelings and emotions. But human sounds convey much more, and perhaps ravens’ do, too.”
That puts us in a special place to understand these black “aliens from outer space” and figure out what they are saying. Crows, Ravens and Jays are so smart how do we communicate with these intelligent species? I need to ponder that some more.
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.
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.
As the day progressed baby stayed put and big brother kept trekking across the trees.
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.
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.
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.
Wednesday dawns. Baby is still in the nest tree and mom has an interlude with him that I could not resist.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Speaking of building and lining the inside, here is a photo of tail up. The crow is head down fixing up things nice.
By the 6th the nest has grown a bit more. Check it out & see the rope?
Thursday the 12th you can see there is still some fluffing going on.
Friday the 13th she is sitting in there hanging out.
Then I swear in this photo she is looking right at me thru the window.
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.
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.
Thursday the 19th I got a good close up of her just sitting patiently.
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!!