This morning, I was getting the ducks and clucks set up for the day in the aviary when I noticed the crow crows were taking snacks up to the tree and feeding their baby fledgling.

I asked them nicely if they would bring down their fledgling to meet me and hang out, and they said they’d think about it.

Sure enough, a few minutes later, their baby flew down on his own to see the yard for himself. He hopped up on the aviary and stared at the ducks and clucks. He walked on top of the net like a trampoline and decided he liked the handicapped kids. He sat and stared at them for a good five minutes.

Then he hopped down to the crow’s water dish and washed down the cat kibble and hard-boiled egg I’d given his parents to feed him.

You can tell a baby crow from an adult crow by the pink sides to their beaks and their blue eyes. As they grow, those eyes turn a dark brown and their beak turns black.

Baby crow really liked just sitting on the side of the water dish and staring into the aviary at the ducks and clucks.

He’d take a drink, gulp it down and sit and stare. I would have cleaned the water dish if I’d known they were really going to listen to me and bring their baby crow down to meet me!

Then something crazy happened. The two parent crows left their baby with me and hopped up high in the tree. They chatted for a bit and then flew off over the house next door and across the street.

“Um… hey baby. How’re you doing?”

“Do you know when your parents are coming back?”

“Am I getting paid anything to babysit you right now?”

“I need to take Lionel to the vet in a bit, just so you know. So maybe you want to call them or something?”

Baby crow decided to jump into the water dish for a quick splash. I’m pretty sure this was the baby’s first bath. Can you see the pin feathers growing in under his wing?

Then he went back to staring into the aviary at the ducks and clucks.

Baby crow is a gangly little thing. Goofy and playful and awkward in all the best ways.

He hopped back and forth across the deck.

And kept hopping up and down on the water dish to get a drink.

Look how big those talon-claws are already.

Aww baby… you’re beautiful!

Baby crow just kept hopping up and down and around while I chatted with him and took photos from all the way across the yard with my big lens.

Isn’t he just the most perfect little baby crow you’ve ever seen?

Time for more hopping!

I was getting a little worried that the parents were going to be gone for a while. Baby crow was just chilling out, but I needed to get moving to take Lionel to the vet.

Hoppity hop hop.

Flappity flap flap.

Just then, an adult crow swooped down to the water dish! I didn’t have time to react and get photos, because the two parent crows swooped in too as the baby crow cried and flew up into a tree. The swooping crow was not a parent!

A rogue crow had swooped down on the baby to attack it. Thankfully the parents were closer than I thought, and they came flying in at break-neck speed to chase off the rogue crow.

The rogue crow and his mate sat on top of my house while the crow parents sat on top of the neighbor’s house. They argued with each other for quite a while, with the baby crow safely in a tree. I have noticed these rogue crows for a few weeks now. I think they are also feeding a fledgling of their own, down the street.

They’ve figured out that I’m the neighborhood treat dispenser, and they want in on that action. I can usually tell if they’re pretending to be my yard crows, because they’re more skittish and frankly not very good actors.

I had to get going to take Lionel Ernest to the vet for a re-check, so I set out some cat kibble for both couples and went back inside.

The parent crows gave me a look like they were disappointed in my babysitting skills, but it was my first time. I hope they give me a second chance. I cleaned the water dish, so I hope that helps.

Even if it turns out to be my only crow babysitting gig, it was quite an honor.

16. June 2012 by Silly Human
Categories: Yard Stuff | 8 comments

Comments (8)

  1. Saw Craig’s retweet of your story. Great stuff! Thanks for sharing. I sometimes see juvenile birds, but never ever babies… until end of May. Check out my shot on G+?

  2. Nice! How close to the “baby” could you get?

    • I didn’t try to get close. I always try to earn their trust and not test their trust. I was sitting about 20 feet away in a lawn chair with my camera.

  3. Wonderful post and beautiful photos! Crows can recognize human faces and remember them their whole lives. I’m not surprised they know you as the treat lady. There are so many crows in my neighborhood, I’ll have to try to spot the babies now that I know what to look for. What type of lens do you use?

  4. This would make a wonderful children’s book!

  5. The tiny blue jay I found grew into a fine big bird. After 6 weeks he wanted to be free and I released him. It’s surprising how much I miss him now.
    I just watched a DVD from Netflix, “A Murder of Crows”. It’s real good and a lot of it was filmed in Seattle. (It’s the PBS Nature program and it’s 1 hour long.)

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