Up With the Crows

Northwestern Crow

Two days ago, we experienced a fairly significant wind storm.  It is an odd time of the year for this.  Such a storm is typical for November, but not April.  Early yesterday morning, I headed over to West Beach in Deception Pass State Park to see what the surf was like.  The conditions there can be just like open ocean.

Northwestern Crow

Off the Strait of Juan de Fuca it was still windy in the park, with only moderate surf.  Next to Cranberry Lake, I encountered a pair of Northwestern Crows (Corvus caurinus).  One was perched on the bench of a picnic table.  He was preening wet, spiky feathers.  Apparently, he had just finished a bath in the lake.

Northwestern Crow

"Do you mind?"

Northwestern Crow

"Alley-Oop!"

Northwestern Crow

Northwestern Crow

Northwestern Crows are a bit smaller than their cousin the American Crow and have a deeper voice.  They nest and make their living around salt water beaches.  Like gulls, they will fly up and drop mussels, clams, and snails onto rocks (or concrete sidewalks) to break them open.  You might catch a couple dozen patrolling the West Beach area in the park.

Also like their cousins, they will exploit any food source.  The Safeway parking lot in downtown Anacortes is fair game.  I have a resident pair near my home.  They will perch and wait for me to bring goodies when I am working in the yard.

Northwestern Crow

"Hey!  You, with the camera, get off my lawn!"

Northwestern Crow

Northwestern Crow

Meanwhile, his mate was foraging at the edge of Cranberry Lake.

Northwestern Crow

Wading at the edge of a fresh water lake like this was new behavior for me.  She thinks she's a heron.

Northwestern Crow

"Hey!  You, with the camera..."

Northwestern Crow

When I continued on my hike, the pair followed me all the way through the Sand Dune Forest.  From the trees, they called and jeered and scolded.  Whatever they were saying, I am sure it wasn't very nice.  This was another new behavior I had never experienced before.  Apparently we should never stare at or photograph a bathing crow.

Northwestern Crow

It continued to be windy at the park.  As I was leaving, one of their companions seemed to be having a bad hair day.

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