The Bothell Crows

Thousands of crows roost on the University of Washington Bothell campus every night.
Thousands of crows roost on the University of Washington Bothell campus every night.

I have always loved crows. And recently I learned about the tens of thousands of crows that roost at the Bothell campus of the University of Washington. Of course, I had to go check it out. I don’t think any number of pictures or videos I share will help share the experience with you. It is just something you should experience for yourself. They covered trees. They covered rooftops, they filled up light posts, the goal posts on the field. They flew around by the hundreds. There were literally crows everywhere. After dark, they descended upon the field itself with the lights shining down on them. It was like the most raucous, fun bird party ever. And they do this every night! The sounds they made are indescribable. It was really amazing to experience.

Some might think it is straight out of a horror movie, but for me, these crows are fascinating. I was in awe for hours watching them gather. They met up like old friends and family at the end of their day. They flew in from every direction–from far away. While I was on my way to the campus I felt like one of the crows going towards the great meeting place. It was just really something I cannot explain well enough. I can’t do it justice.

I think I’ve found the place I will visit as often as possible.

That said, here are some links for more information.

  • Crows on Campus (University of Washington page on the crows)
  • Bothell Crows Facebook page (They have their facebook page…they are that big of a deal!)
  • A great video of them (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X98N18-Kp88)
  • The Experience of 10,000 Crows (The Metropolitan Field Guide)
  • A video about the crows made by The Metropolitan Field Guide (https://youtu.be/T6MFRpwiZ7A)

Crows and ravens can nest as early as February

The Crow's Nest.jpg
The Crow's Nest.jpg by Tony Margiocchi (Snapperz)

Most birds start to nest in the late spring and throughout summer but there have been observations of crows and ravens nesting as early as February. According to these observations,1

  • American crow: Allen Larner observed adults nest building on Feb. 23, 2000, and Feb. 21, 2005, both in Staunton. American crows live on territories the year round in family groups of 2-10 birds. Adults and young of the previous year may assist in raising the young of the newest brood.
  • Common raven: Our earliest breeding record is a pair carrying nest material on Feb. 3, 2008, at Fishersville. Beth and Harry Lumadue made this observation. It was on a large billboard. They kept close track of the nest and discovered eggs on Feb. 28.
  • Allen Hale discovered another nest with eggs on Feb. 28, 1988, at the quarry on Statler Boulevard in Staunton. It was unusual to find a raven nest right in town.

Now is as good as time as any to put out things in your yard for the birds to find to make nests. Twigs, scraps of light material, etc. But please as always it is important to not let plastic bags end up all over the place. Recycle them properly or better yet, commit to not using plastic. Use your own reusable canvas bags, most grocery stores offer them for like $1 and you can use them time and time again. Or use paper. Plastic is so detrimental to birds not to mention the entire plastic island that is accumulating in the middle of the ocean. =( *jumps off soapbox*

  1. http://www.newsleader.com/article/20110202/SPORTS/102020330/1006/SPORTS []

Common Ravens and Egg


Common Ravens and Egg

Originally uploaded by poecile05

This is the second raven baby/egg photograph and post. Thanks to the photographer, poecile05, for sharing this on flickr and allowing us to blog it.

If you read yesterday’s post, you know how much a baby raven can and must consume. I shared with you a small part of a book I read, “Mind of the Raven” by Bernd Heinrich.

The high maintenance baby ravens don’t stop with just a need for attention and an enormous amount of food. They also require some special attention to see to their “bathroom” needs, if you will. You may recall from yesterday’s post that nestlings eat A LOT of food. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

Yep! That is right. Almost every amount that goes into the baby ravens must come out. Since they can’t lift themselves up to hang over the side of the nest for at least a couple of weeks, their parents must take care of this expediently. Remember, if they eat six woodfrogs and two mice IN ONE FEEDING, then you can imagine how much waste that much food produces after EACH and EVERY FEEDING! They would quite literally be drowning in a bowl (their nest) full of their own liquid dung (also known as ‘mutes’).

In order to prevent this from happening, the parents scoop up the “mute” with their beaks as it is coming out and dumps it over the side of the nest. They are the equivalent of live pooper-scoopers. Not so fun, not so simple. Imagine how much time this takes and then recall how much food they need. You can see clearly how much time parenting takes in a raven’s life.

We are lucky as humans that we only need to go to the local grocery store to obtain food for our young. Imagine the raven’s life…