Thursday, June 21, 2018

Canuck the Crow Loses Chicks

Canuck the Crow is a well known
(throughout the world) Vancouver
Avian Celebrity

It was very sad to read in the local news last evening that Canuck the Crow, who I have posted about before on this blog, and his mate Cassiar lost their nestlings this year.  Here is the report from Canuck's official website and I will have more comments to follow:

With nesting season, there is a lot that goes on. With the building of the nest, egg laying, nest sitting, hatching, feeding, protecting, and teaching; Crow parents definitely have their work cut out for them.
There are many ups and downs throughout this time of year, and I was there to experience it all. There will be future posts showing all of these experiences, but for now a statement needs to be made.
It is my sad duty to inform all of you that Canuck and Cassiar's babies did not survive this year. I will go into more detail in future posts however right now I'm going through quite the emotional roller coaster ride and can't bring myself to discuss the details at this time.
To be blunt, I'm devastated. The parents are doing okay but are visibly sad. I'm not a Crow expert, but I now know what it looks and sounds like when a Crow cries.
I will be taking a few days for myself to recuperate mentally, and to spend time with my friends Canuck and Cassiar as they deal with their loss.
Thank you everyone.



Greencrow says:  The news item was brief and did not give details other than that Cassiar, Canuck's mate, had laid some eggs which had hatched but did not survive.  As someone who watches crows in this neighbourhood all the time and has, over the years learned a lot about them, I can make some educated guesses as to what may have happened to the chicks.  First, there are other birds, eagles, hawks and owls that prey on the young of smaller birds.  Second, there are other predators, squirrels and rats...yes, city rats will attack a nest of baby crows when the parents take their eyes off it even for a second.  It wouldn't surprise me if raccoons and cats also prey on baby crows in the nest.

It is a very dangerous world for crows. I saw a documentary about crows years ago on "The Nature of Things", a TV science show narrated by Vancouver scientist David Suzuki.  In that documentary they tagged a group of crows and were astonished that none of the tagged birds lasted more than a year.  The mortality rate for urban crows is very high.

There are two crows in my own neighbourhood that I follow.  I call them "Fatstuff" and "Slimboy".  They feed on peanuts I leave in a birdbath in my front yard.  When I had house guests and we were talking on the back deck, Fatstuff and Slimboy came, perched nearby and examined the newcomers with interest. It was like they were invited guests at a gathering. Whenever I'm in the backyard gardening they do "fly overs" to see what I'm up to.  This spring they disappeared for a while and I assumed they were tending a nest.  Then just last week one of them came and sat on my roof while I was on the back deck.  He or she was cawing/crying.  It was quite clear that the bird was distressed.  I asked him or her if she had lost her babies.  That's what I suspected from his or her behaviour.

Then the other evening there were about 30 or so crows sitting high in the trees of the nearby park.  It was quite obvious that the parents had taken their fledglings out for an evening "flying lesson".  You could tell from the behaviour.  Older, larger crows flying around and noisily urging the smaller young...who perched precariously on the branches...not having acquired their stability quite take flight.  So while many survive...and this is a very crow-friendly neighbourhood...many neighbours also feed the crows...every year some crows do not.  Many succumb to injuries associated with foraging, such as broken beaks (quite common) and lame feet.

I know the neighbourhood that Canuck the Crow lives in. It's a very crowded urban center with few natural amenities.  It would be a hard life for a crow family at the best of times.  My thoughts are with Canuck, Cassiar and their human friends.


Greg Bacon said...

I've always loved watching crows, which seem to be the most intelligent bird species in N America.

There's also the old tale that says, if you see a flock--murder?--of crows repeatedly flocking to one place and cawing a lot, that was the location where a number of native Americans got killed.

greencrow said...

Thank you for your comment, Greg. I remember seeing a dead crow on the sidewalk a few years ago. There was another crow perched on the telephone line above, cawing and crying. I am certain that it was the dead crow's mate, lamenting loudly. Crows mate for life and are extremely devoted to one another.

Another predator of crows I forgot to mention in my post are the human variety. Some people just don't like crows and call them "flying rats". Some folks are just oblivious to the fascinating crow society around them and go about cutting down trees with nests in them, etc. My neighbour cut down his tree last year, destroying a nest and the eggs inside. I brought it to his attention and he was surprised. He did not know there were crows nesting in the tree. I asked him if he could give me the nest and he brought it over. I repaired it and use it to display one of my carvings (of an embryonic dinosaur) you can see it if you go to my arts and crafts page by clicking on the link at the top of the main page.