Baby blue crow eyes surrounded by baby blue “Forget-me-nots”
In late March, 2008 a family in Puslinch found a baby crow underneath a tree. There had been a storm and the family worried that the crow had fallen from the nest. In this situation, the parents of the crow would retrieve the baby when they thought it was safe to do so. I am unaware whether the human family waited to see if the crow parents returned for their baby or whether the human family took the crow baby hastily not knowing that the parents were there watching. Either way, the crow was brought to the nature centre and we were given the task of looking after a beautiful and very adorable baby crow that we named “Edgar”. I learned a lot about baby crow behaviour from Edgar. When Edgar was hungry, she would caw and we would feed her canned dogfood, giving her little scoops at a time. When she was full, she would make soft, happy sounds that were higher-pitched than her guttural cawing sounds. Her favourite place to perch was the top of a human’s head and she was a sweetheart. After raising Edgar for a while, we brought her to S.O.A.R. in Rockwood, where she could have an outdoor flight cage to prepare for an autumn release. It was a blessing to have been able to care for and love baby Edgar during her brief time with us. The following spring and many springs after, a family of crows moved into the spruce trees behind my house. They successfully raised many baby crows. Crow begging calls became music to my ears in fond remembrance of raising Edgar. One particular morning a few years ago, I opened the front door as I was heading to work and there on the doorstep was a baby crow. It turned its head to the side to get a better look at me and then started to talk to me in that funny high-pitched voice that I remembered Edgar using when she was content. It hopped towards my shiny car and tried jumping onto the silver hood, slipping off awkwardly. I envisioned some very patient (and probably nervous) crow parents watching uneasily from the shelter of a spruce bough. I picked the baby up and set it on the lawn in front of the spruce trees and waited at a distance. I remember hearing crows calling and when I returned to look for the baby, it was gone. People say that when we become aware of something in nature, we begin to hear and see it more often. However, I think that there is more to it than that – something deeper and more spiritual. I believe that when we connect with something or someone in nature, they become a part of us and we become a part of them – creating a beautiful flow of energy. Some might call that love.
Crow with feet planted before take off. (Waterside Park, Rockwood, March 2014)
Certain birds require a running takeoff to become airborne. Crows can lift straight into the air from any given spot whereas ravens must run to take off. These trail patterns can aid in species identification. (Bird Tracks and Sign*, page 150).
On page 17 of “Bird Tracks and Sign*”, Elbroch and Marks discuss bird foot morphology. “The most common arrangement (for birds) is anisodactyl, with three toes pointed forward and one backward. The toe that points back is commonly called the hallux”.
Crows have an anisodactyl arrangement. “Ornithologists number the toes of each foot from 1 to 4 (called the digital formula). Toe 1 is always the hallux and the other toes are numbered in sequence, beginning with the inside of the foot and circling out.” (Bird Tracks and Sign*, page 18).
*Elbroch, M. & Marks, E. 2001, Bird Tracks and Sign, Stackpole Books, Mechanicsburg, PA.
Alexis Burnett shared a cool track identification tip for corvids (Crows, Ravens, Jays etc.). In Corvids, toe 2 and 3 are close together (see photo above). In comparison, toe 3 and 4 are close together for members of the Blackbird family (Cowbirds, Grackles, Blackbirds etc.). This is also a good way to tell if a foot is left or right.
*When determining the difference between crow and raven tracks, size is important but foot morphology is also important. Toe 1 on a raven’s foot is “ice cream cone” shaped and looks more like a trapezoid (thicker than a crow’s Toe 1).
This crow trail was located near the remains of a European Hare that had been eaten by a fox.