Observation Logs, Quebec, Canada. The American Crow, Corvus brachyrhynchos.

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Quebec Crow Observation Logs

This section includes reports of various observers from the Province of Quebec.

Beaconsfield, Quebec: July 3, 2000

The baby crows around here have fledged and the parents have them out and about. From what I've been able to tell my three regulars were joined by 3 others in a weird greeting about two months ago, just as the nest was being finished. I can only assume they were previous nestlings from a couple of years ago.

They landed on a wire and after a loud cawing match they approached the resident crows one by one and the largest crow greeted them one at a time and preened each of them. Each crow bowed low beside the large crow and allowed themselves to be checked from beak to tail. So suddenly I had 6 regulars instead of 3.

I couldn't see much of what was happening at the nest after all the foliage on the trees filled in. However, the crows are still showing up every morning in my driveway for thier alotment of peanuts so I do see them all the time. We also changed the position of one of our backyard feeders and the crows can now access it and do. This past weekend they brought a baby crow into our yard to spend the afternoon. He/she was a pretty big baby, almost the size of it's parents. Our clue was that it was not as wary as it's parents and kept begging for food from the adults. At one point the adults spotted my husband watching out the window when he moved his coffee cup. They flew to the top of the side fence, but the baby stayed under the feeder. The parents didn't leave however, they cawed at the baby but stayed postioned on the fence to watch it carefully. After about a 15 minute wait they decided nothing bad was going to happen and rejoined the baby.

Later the same day I took my 7 month old Grandson for a walk up the street and saw another family of crows with 2 babies. I've always been aware of the second family at the top of the street and have seen a few fights between them and the family at my end of the street. The second family isn't as nervous as the one I feed. They were swooping around the baby carriage and didn't freak out when I walked by the two crow babies on a nearby lawn.

Anyhow, from what I've been able to tell, _my_ family had 1 successful hatching, the other group had two. All seem a very good size and very healthy. We again have a large group of Grackles coming this season and since they have to cross two very busy streets to get to my feeder a few have been hit by cars because they tend to fly a tad low. Needless to say, there's been a wealth of roadkill for the crows again this year. A number of squirrels haven't made it either. Another curious item, last year we had numerous visitations from Cooper's Hawks, so far this year I haven't seen 1!

Oh yes, one other odd thing. The crows are following me! No matter where I go I can look up and see a crow just over my head hiding in a tree or at the top of a pole. We drove about 2 miles to a local nursery to buy a few items for the garden and while we walked around looking at plants I spotted a crow sitting on the roof of the building overlooking the rows of plants. I stopped and looked at him and he suddenly bowed and started cawing loudly continuously. He stayed there all the time we were at the nursery and kept cawing at me as if he was saying; "I know you! And...I found YOU!" Weird!(Lynda McCormick)

Beaconsfield, Quebec: April 27, 2000

Outside looking in.

The photo to the right was taken during the record snowfall (2 feet in 24 hours) in Quebec on April 9, 2000. The crow is sitting about two feet from the living room plate glass window staring in. He and his mate spent most of that day trying frantically to eat suet from tiny woodpecker suet cages attached to one of the red pines lining my back yard.

They've built their nest in a tall fir tree about 200 feet from my yard and I've been watching daily with my binoculars. They've stripped twigs off my trees and do a little playing, flying loops in and out of the tree tops every evening before settling down. The nest was started the first week of April and I think they are still adding to it. The heavy snow slowed them down somewhat. (Lynda McCormick)

Beaconsfield, Quebec: November 1, 1999

Location_Description: Driveway, front and back yard of my house in Beaconsfield, Quebec Canada

Behavior: I put November 1st 1999 down as a date, but in fact, these observations are done on almost a dayly basis as I have 3-5 American Crows that come to my yard every day. I have a lot of observations. I don't know if you want one at a time or you want all of them at once. I've been making friends with the local Crows for months now. They have always been here (at least for the past 16 years that I have lived here.) I basically got tired of trying to figure out why they liked to buzz my house as I filled the feeders at dawn and why they always seemed to be 'yelling' at me from the poles and trees surrounding my house. I realized one morning that it was because they couldn't get near my main feeder where I placed whole raw peanuts for the Blue Jays.

I had noticed 1-3 Crows staking out several trees which were in a direct line or flight plan that the Blue Jays take coming in for peanuts. Often a chase would start as soon as a Jay left with a nut in it's beak. There would be dog-fights to and from my feeder on a regular basis between the Crows and Jays. This went on all early spring of 1999.

When the Grackles moved back into the area in swarms of great flocks, I noticed that the Jays had an easier time of it. Periodically I spotted Grackles stealing peanuts although they seem to have a lot of trouble figuring out how to crack them open. I then observed that most of the peanut stealing Grackles were in fact dropping the whole peanuts on the lawn portion where the Crows could land to pick them up. At the time it looked to me as if the Grackles were in fact 'paying off the Crows in protection peanuts' so they wouldn't get divebombed to and from the feeder. I may be wrong, but I still believe that's exactly what was going on. Grackles and Crows don't act like life-long friends under normal circumstances.

I did note that this small group of crows looked like a family. Male and female and by early summer I spotted 2 fledlings with them. The younsters had left the nest and Mom and dad were teaching them the ropes in my backyard and the yard next to mine. Of course you couldn't go out while the babies were flying with Mom and Dad, you'd get screamed at relentlessly. Unfortunately one of the babies disapeared in early July. The day after the baby disapeared I was rudely awakened by the parents. They had camped out in front of my house on a light post and were cawing loudly and continuously. I thought it was at me and I thought I'd go crazy from the constant screaming. They continued for several days . Eventually my neigbors got back from an out of town trip and informed me that they had found a baby Blue Jay and a baby crow floating dead in their swimming pool, so putting two and two together I summized that the crows had decided to blame the owners of the pool for the death of their baby.

Anyhow that brought down the number of that family to 3 from 4 and those are the main three I now have contact with. I later spotted one of the crows staring from behind a maple tree branch directly at my main feeder. This was early fall and the Blue Jays were extremely active at the time stocking peanuts from the feeder. I had about 20-25 Jays coming in all day long collecting nuts. It was about 6:00am in the morning and I couldn't help but feel for the poor soul. He wasn't following the jays with anything else but his gaze. His head would swivel as he followed them flying past him with peanuts in their beaks. It might have been the hour or the particular atmosphere of the situation, but I got dressed and took a tumbler of peanuts out to the driveway where the crows could land and collect them. He watched me do it and immediately called to his other family members. He did not come for nuts on his own. He waited until all others were present and left it up to the largest crow to check out the peanuts. This has been the pattern ever since. There's always at least 1 crow spying on me from a pole or tree. He/she calls to me and if I put nuts out they call again for the rest of the family. They will never take anything unless all 3 members are present. When all three gather they wait for the largest one (I believe it's the adult male) to check it out. He makes circles around the nuts studying them and only after he decides they are safe, and takes one do the others come in for their share. He's a very cautious bird. The pile I leave has to be scattered. He does not trust nor does he like neat little piles of nuts. It's as if he believes that all things in a neat pile are human trappings. He'll make ever tightening circles around the pile then when close enough he'll stick a foot into the pile to 'explode' the nuts scattering them. He does this hopping on one foot with his wings out- spread with a quick jump backwards as if he's expecting a trap to go off (sort of like checking for land mines) I thought at first this was fluke, so I place the second and third pile neatly as well and watched him go through his little 'Crow Dance' over and over again. (Lynda McCormick)

January 12, 2000 (continued from above)

This morning while doing Project Feeder Watch, I spotted an American Crow looking down at my large feeder from the branch of a Maple tree in the yard next door. I had just finished feeding my local Crows peanuts in the Driveway not 30 minutes before and at first from a distance this fellow looked as if he had something in his beak. I had previously noted that one of the younger Crows liked to collect small square items that looked a lot like calling cards or credit cards. About a month ago he/she came rushing in to join the others for peanuts a little late. In his beak he was carrying what looked like a small square piece of cardboard, possibly a dropped "Pokey-Mon" (sp?) card. Don't get me wrong, I don't mean to imply that Crows are dumb enough to get into merchandising like some of us Humans are. But seeing that these cards are collected more feverishly then Hockey Cards these days, it was likely. Anyhow, this youngster was so excited about his find that he had trouble dropping it for his share of peanuts. In fact, he dropped it and went back to it several times before actually getting himself a nut and then he dropped the nut several times because he couldn't decide whether he wanted to leave his card on the street.

All that aside, the above is the reason I ran to get the binoculars. As soon as I focused on his closeup in the binoculars I stood there in complete shock. This didn't look like one of my regulars, this one had a deformed beak! I watched him for about 10 minutes and during that time he gave me quite a few profile angles and several of them had his beak opened wide as he "Cawed" frantically at something out of my range. The top half of his beak had a long pic-like growth that hooked downwards like a long claw.

I had previously read an alert from Cornell about deformed Chickadees showing up in Alaska with simular beak deformities to this crow. They also listed Stellar Jays, Magpies, Downy Woodpeckers and an American Robin (amoungst a few others) which had also been spotted with the same type of deformity, however the species most counted had been Chickadees. The warning went on to explain that there have been some eastern sightings in Ontario Canada, and Vermont and a couple of other eastern states. Small numbers compaired to Alaska sightings, but this doesn't mean they aren't out there.

I believe the sighting I had this morning has been the first one from Quebec and it may well be the first American Crow sighting, but that is little relief considering that Stellar Jays and Magpies were already on the list. It looks as if I'll have to keep those binoclars at ready when observing Crows or any other birds from now on. >From the condition the poor little Chickadees are ending up in this could be very bad news for all our bird friends, especially since they haven't been able to determine a cause as yet. (Lynda McCormick)

Montreal, Quebec: 12/9/99

Location_Description: Urban residential area, tree lined avenue, right in front of our house. No nearby eateries.

About 500 crows were perched on the hydro lines and in the trees last night and left this morning. This was the first time that it has ever occurred according to long time residents. Out of curiosity I surfed your site to find out where crows migrate for they are not seen around in winter in this area so I thought they must gathering to migrate to warmer climes. So far we have had a very mild late fall so I thought the birds were probably gathering for migration or something. Maybe it was a one time staging area since so far tonight there is no sign of a recurrence. Are their staging areas arbitreaily selected? From what I read the roost area seems more permanent.

Behavior: They are noisy and messy.

Comments: Do crows migrate and if so to where? (Louis H. Lafontaine)

(This section will be added to on a continuing basis. Your comments and suggestions are welcomed. Other parts of the site are also under construction. This site will be continually expanding as the Project grows.)

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