The Daily Bucket is a place where we get together and share the things we've noticed in the natural world around us. It might be that robins are building a nest in the old apple tree out back or that the crickets outside your window are keeping you awake at night or that coyote pups up on the ridge are beginning to sing with their parents every evening. Doesn't matter what it is, nothing noted is too big or too small, so please join in and tell us what is happening in your neck of the woods. Everyone is welcome.Seattle. June 13, 2013.
From my notes:
The Wetland. April 8. crow's nestMy weekly bird census at the Wetland allows me the luxury of just standing and staring. On this day I got to watch as a pair of crows began to put together their nest. One came bearing sticks, over and over. The other accepted them and arranged them one by one in the upper branches of a young Douglas Fir. There were only the two of them, working without the family helpers that are often seen during nesting season at other nests. A new pair perhaps?
I was able to watch from a polite distance for as long as I wished. They seemed not to notice my presence.
The Wetland. April 29: mama crow cryingApril 29th was squally and cool, with heavy rain driving me to the shelter of the car more than once. Between squalls I followed the sound of a crying crow to the nest tree. Mama crow sat there, just her beak and tail visible above the neatly woven sticks she and her mate had put together over the past weeks. She called for food. Her mate didn't appear while I was there.
Twenty days seems a long time from the beginning of nest building to sitting, but Crows take their time making their nests just right, as long as two weeks in some instances. Too, they sometimes spend a week or so settling into their new homes. The female will sometimes cry for food from the nest a day or two before she begins to lay.
The average clutch size for Crows is between 4 and 5 eggs, usually laid on consecutive days. I only visit the Wetland once a week and do not know how many eggs might have been in the nest that day. Even so, this pair of crows seemed to be on the right schedule.
May 6: crow mama sittingMy notes don't mention the presence of a male or of helpers, so I can't speak of any support she might have had during this time. May 6 was clear and 75 degrees. What I remember is her still presence in the nest, gaping in the heat. May 13th was squally and cool. All I could make out that day was the silhouette of her tail and beak above the edge of the nest.
May 13: mama still sitting
May 20: mama crow still sittingSixteen to eighteen days seems to be the consensus for incubation time. May 20 was the twenty-first day since I'd first heard her crying from the nest. She was still there, head to the north, tail to the south, utterly still. No sounds came from the nest, no warning caws came from the trees nearby.
May 28: crow mama still sittingToo long. Again there was no sign of other crows near the nest. No watchers, no helpers, no sounds. She did not move; just the shadow of her head to the north, her tail to the south.
June 3: mama now leaving nestWhen I arrived she was crouched on the edge of the nest, a little wobbly, looking out over the thickets. I moved on, feeling my presence somehow intrusive this time. When I looped back she was perched on a low branch just east of the nest tree. She was making a sound I can't describe. No other crows responded.
Female Crows will sit on infertile eggs for as long as a month before abandoning their efforts.
(Details on incubation times and some of the information on American Crow breeding behavior were found in the very pricey subscription version of Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology's Birds of America. You might be able to access it via your local library.)
Everyone is welcome to post their observations in the Bucket. I'll be back around noonish. Carry on.