A few years ago, I wrote a short story about a baby crow growing up. Today, I put all the posts together for an Easter treat. Enjoy following Edgar’s story!
How it all Began –
My name is Edgar and I was born in a madrona tree this spring. My crow mama and papa built a pretty stick house for me and my baby sister to be raised in. The first remembrance I have is of my mama flying into our nest while I looked up into the tree branches. Those branches are such a pretty mahogany red color and the leaves were blowing in the breeze off the water. She came in and filled the two of us up and then pushed us back down into the nest. Her feathered bottom felt nice and warm to our naked baby bodies. That breeze was cold at times in this wet spring time.
Time flew by and before I knew it we were getting crowded in the nest. When mama and papa left us we could peek over the edge now. What I saw was a lush green forest with blue sky and water twinkling off to the side. I remember seeing off in the branches one of our uncles or big brothers always standing guard. We might not have our mama there but someone was always watching out for us.
One day I was standing on the sticks edge of the nest stretching my wings and crying for mama to come feed me. I am hungry all the time as my little body grows so fast. Papa says I am a big strong boy and am almost as big as some of his little sisters who are now hovering around too. Mama keeps picking at my feathers. It tickles when she pulls on the waxy stuff that is stuck to both my sissy and me. My sister is smaller than me still and what a cry baby. I wish she would just stop all the noise and let me tell mama we are hungry. I even push her around to make my point and she pecks me back.
Wow – not sure how it happened by now I am in a bush at the bottom of our home. I cried and cried for mama and papa to come get me. They just hung around with the rest of the family squawking at anything that came near me. Mama brought me snacks and told me to stretch my wings. She said flap them hard and you can come be with us in the home tree. I cried all night because I was so afraid. There were eyes in the bushes looking at me. My uncle flushed out a rat with a good peck to the head so I made it through the night ok.
In the morning I had to give it a try after a little breakfast from mama. I stretched and flapped my little wings. Then I jumped out of the bush and flapped my wings like papa showed me. I made it into the tree but had a crash landing. Somehow I hung onto the branch. I was so proud of myself and cried for a treat to be brought over. Mama obliged but whispered that I needed to learn to take care of myself to get strong. Then she flew up to the nest, which I could see high up, to feed my cry baby sissy. She was now alone in the nest and crying harder than ever. What a chicken shit she is while I was the brave one.
I keep hearing about the beach but have to wait papa says. I have to learn to fly better before they will take me down there. Maybe next week when we talk again they will let me go & I can tell you what it is like.
The Osprey Incident –
“The Osprey” looking for a baby crow snack.
My little sister Lizzie is such a pain in the butt. This week she dashed my hope of going to the beach when she got out of the nest and sent everyone on a wild crazy chase.
Like me she got to the edge of the nest but unlike me she actually flung herself off. I was a little bit more cautious and ended up falling out of the nest. How embarrassing that she has better balance. To save face I said that she must have learned from my misadventure.
Her little first flight was pretty dang good I have to admit. She landed a couple branches over from the nest. Mom and Dad were close by watching. Surprise surprise the first thing she did was cry for a bite of food. She is the worst beggar and it seems she never shuts up.
After a snack that was when she started the crazy chase. She is such an irresponsible little thing, flying from branch to branch. If we had not been tagging along she would have been lost very quickly in the maze of madrona trees. Before I knew it we were in a place I hadn’t seen before. It had some old dead trees that stuck out of the forest next to a trail. Also close by was a wood structure that Uncle said the humans built to rest on. It had some odd railing thing and a thing he said they sit on, whatever that means.
That was when we heard the most awful high pitched screech. It made me shiver down to my little toes it was so frightening. I must have known it was something bad because that was when I saw it. It was really big, white and with a bandit black mask around a set of yellow eyes. The beak was huge and it had landed on that old tree branch we were near. My family was beside themselves because Lizzie was right there too. All of them started cawing and cawing at the thing. Mom was screaming at the two of us babies to get away. She called it “The Osprey”. Now the monster had a name and I was so scared.
We flew away not really sure where we were going but ended up next to that structure Uncle said the humans had built. From there we watched the family dive bomb the monster and caw at it so loud. They did it over & over being so brave and actually very intimidating.
The Osprey just sat there eyeing them with those piercing yellow eyes and took his time deciding if he wanted a crow for a snack. Then I guess he figured it would be more trouble than it was worth to eat one of us and just flew away.
Mom & Dad herded us back towards our nest trees saying we need to find shelter from big birds like that. The beach was out of the question until we learned to obey our parents’ orders and became stronger flyers.
I fell asleep on a branch dreaming of the beach’s lapping water and the sparkling sky I can see peeking through the branches.
Going to the Beach – at last! –
“Edgar, wake up. The day has begun and we get to go to the beach.” whispered my baby sister to me. Wow, at last we get to see that sparkling sea up close. Mom said it was low tide early and we had to hustle if we wanted to get the tastiest morsels.
And then before I knew it we were off. We flew up out of the trees and into the big sky. Down below was this wide open space that moved and sparkled all at once. It took my breath away. I had this awful fear I would fall and not have a branch to land on. (or crash onto). Our little family of Dad, Mom, Uncle, Lizzie and I swooped onto a piece of rocky ground that was close to the edge of the sparkle.
Our cousins and their families were close by. Some of them were doing the begging cry to their parents which overshadowed the splashing sound I heard from the sparkling water. What is water I had been asking my Uncle? He said you cannot hold it and that confused me. Now I know what he meant. I went close to it and it lapped my toes. It was cold and when I poked it with my beak it was salty tasting.
Mom was cawing at us to come over and see what she found. Lizzie was being her usual bratty self and wanted to be waited on. Over by Mom, I saw she had found a wiggly thing and I ran over to see. Not sure why but I just pecked at it and then gobbled it down. It was salty like the sparkly and tasted good. So, that was how I fed myself for the first time.
All of a sudden everyone was flying into the trees. We followed along best we could and my heart was pumping so fast. Once I got landed and looked back I saw flying over where we had been was that awful “Osprey” thing. He dove into the sparkly and came up with a piece of silver in his mouth. Uncle was wrong you can grab the water or at least the Osprey can. Then I watched the thing wiggle and I realized that it wasn’t water but some poor little creature he was going to eat. Then he was gone, flying away into the trees and out of sight. Now I understood why Mom and Dad had gone so crazy over the Osprey the other day.
For the next couple of hours we played on the beach and had a wonderful time. It was better than I had ever dreamed. Just one thing got on my nerves – That would be my little sister who never shut up and started to drive not only me but Mom crazy. Watch the little movie of her and you will understand what I mean.
Learning about Road Kill –
Uncle told me that there is an urban legend about crows and road kill. I had no idea what he was cawing about. He said that when a creature is killed on a road that we have a feast. What is killed and road mean? The plan was tomorrow morning when the sun came up we would find out. The best time to find this mystery food is at dawn before anyone else grabs it.
Next day the darkness started to go and our family rustled out of the tree. Uncle had us follow but not after lecturing us. The rules of the road are if you hear or see a car coming you have to jump or fly out of the way. Again, I have no idea what he was talking about. He tried to explain that a car was a big metal thing that humans drive around in. They can’t fly like us crows and had to get from place to place in these monsters on wheels. Again what is a wheel? The danger was worth it to get those tasty morsels I guess. He was so excited he could hardly wait for all of us to get wide awake.
We flew the opposite direction from the beach. Up over the Madrona forest we love to play in and where we feel so safe. Up high over the crest of the hill we went. Next thing I see are human things but these are bigger than that thing in the woods next to where the Osprey was. You couldn’t see into them either except through holes in the sides. Running between these big boxes was a black ribbon of flat surface. It had a funny yellow strip down the middle. It was flat like the beach but no rocks and it was hard, not soft like the sand part of the beach.
Our family flew over this ribbon of black searching for the mysterious road kill. We wound around the human boxes getting farther and farther from our forest. Lizzie and I were starting to get scared because we didn’t know this place at all. Mom had the family stop and perch on a high up black wire so we youngsters could rest a little. As we perched a noise started up & before we knew it that noise was on the black road below. We saw our first car. It was so big and loud. We wanted to fly away but Uncle said to stay brave. He said now you know if you are on the road why you must jump away if you hear one.
Up on the wire watching cars go by
When our hearts quit pounding it was time to move on and we flew a little ways farther. Then we saw it. Dad said it had been a squirrel but now was dead. We had talked to the tree squirrels in our forest but this didn’t look like them. Instead it was flat and squished looking. Uncle flew down on the road and started poking the road kill. He cawed for all of us to come join in the feast.
Edgar & Family on the road
And it was very tasty. Not as salty or sandy as the beach food. Now I know why we went so far from home. This was good and made my tummy feel full and warm. I wanted more but there wasn’t that much once everyone had a bite. All of a sudden we heard the car coming. This one was louder and it was moving towards us fast. It was so much bigger than the first one we had seen earlier.
Everyone jumped off the road or back up on the wire. Then it whizzed by us. It was so big and moving fast enough to create its own wind storm. Uncle said that it was a bus. So, we now know not all of these monsters are cars.
Once the wind died down we saw that the road kill was now really flat. It dawned on me that this was how the squirrel became road kill. It was run over. And if we were not careful we would be road kill too.
Learning about Humans –
The human place where the nice lady gave us peanuts
Here we are again at the place the Humans built close to the Osprey encounter. Lizzie just can’t sit still and we all followed her back over there through the madrona forest. She continues to beg in that high pitched whiny voice of hers. Enough to drive her big brother, me, crazy.
Our parents were trying hard to find something for her to eat that would satisfy her into silence. That was when the human lady came along and went into the human built place. She clucked to us and my parents seemed to know her. They didn’t shoo us away like they usually do when strange humans come close. Next thing I know she tosses these odd shaped pellet things out towards us. Uncle swooped down quickly to grab what he called a treat. This treat had two nuts inside what he called a shell and Uncle chewed it up for us. It tasted really good and at last Lizzie went quiet.
The human lady threw more of these treats out and Mom said it was kind of her to give us peanuts. Yum I want more peanuts but when I snatched one I couldn’t figure out how to get inside. I held it in between my toes and hammered at it. All I did was poke my toes. Ouch! Lizzie was being a pest as usual crying for me to give her some. No wonder I stabbed myself. At last I got the outside to fall apart and got the goodness within. Well, I got one of them, the other rolled away. Uncle scrambled after it and laughed at me for being so clumsy.
Dad started cawing about then and the rest of the family joined in. What he had seen was another human walking up the trail they use. Not sure why they don’t fly up to the top instead of walking. Humans don’t have feathers like us and that must explain it. Dad cawed that this person was mean to them. He said be sure you remember which human is nice (like the lady) and which ones are mean. The mean ones can hurt you he said.
Then he got on a branch and pooped on the man’s head. That made him mad and he started throwing rocks at us. The nice human shouted at him to stop. She was actually sticking up for us and Uncle said that was rare. She went over to talk to the man and we heard her say “Don’t be mean to them. They attack you because you throw things at them. Here feed them some bread and they will stop cawing at you” She then pulled a nice slice of bread out and gave it to him. He looked at her and in wonder said “Really?” He thinks we are just stupid birds but the lady set him straight.
Dad said we remember their faces so we know who is naughty or nice. He even sent me a mental picture of the lady and said to put that away in my mind so I could tell she was the nice one. Then he sent me the mean man’s face telepathically. He said we shall see how he does but for now stay clear.
Humans are a mixed bag (not sure what that is but Uncle said it like that), so we need to be careful. I sure want more of those peanuts. I can hardly wait till we meet the nice lady again.
Edgar tries Acrobatic Flying –
Our family went to the beach today just like we do most days when low tide gives us lots of goodies to eat. We hung out on the down tree branches getting some sun and just being together. Lizzie for once was only sort of annoying. She has learned to feed herself a bit so her begging is not in everyone’s face like it was.
Edgar and family hanging out on a downed poplar tree
That was when a small group of guys came over and asked me if I wanted to fly around with them. They were a mix of my age and a few yearlings who had not found girlfriends. Dad nodded his head to go ahead and enjoy myself.
We then flew down the beach not too far and started pecking in the seaweed for some snacks. That got boring after a while and the group started playing sneak a feather. That is where another crow sneaks up behind and tugs on his fellow crow’s tail feathers. Harmless fun since no one really pulls a feather out but it is fun to watch. We were laughing and cawing up a storm from how silly the victim looks when he actually gets his tail pulled. No matter how much I watched out soon it was my turn and the pinch came when I had my head turned. My tail tugger and I started flying around playing chase me catch me next.
That was when the group showed me how to dive-bomb and do other fun swooping acrobatic flying. Now that is what I call fun. Each of us would try to see how close we could get to the ground before we pulled up. I got better and better as I practiced but I could never beat my tail tugger named Harry.
Goofing around and acrobatic flying
As we played and swooped we must have gotten farther and farther down the beach. The sun was setting and we all flocked up into a tree. That was when I realized that I could not see my family anymore and it was almost dark. Harry said don’t worry we will look after you Edgar. But I am so lonely without my sister and parents. We sat in the big tree all together watching the sun set. I wanted to fly and look for them but something told me I had to wait till dawn now. I am so lost!!
Edgar at dusk in a tree feeling lost.
Lost and Molting –
I woke up in the trees and had that moment of sweet sun shining on my beak. Then I remember with a jolt I was lost and not with my family. I was not alone though. The mob of guys I had joined was also stirring. Harry nudged me and asked if I was wake. “Come Edgar, don’t look so gloom. We will get something to eat and then find your family.”
The group started swooping and flying around getting warmed up. It was fun diving and soaring in and out of each other. Then we all took off to what Harry called the wharf. Not sure what that was but he said it would have lots of fish and other good things to nibble on.
We were a motley crew I noticed now that I check us out. We are molting and our feathers are not laying flat and have gone kind of brown vs our usual black. We look like we got roughed up in a fight. My favorite forest tree the madrona is also doing an odd molting thing. It’s pretty reddish bark is falling off in strips and revealing the pale silver green new bark below. Would we be green under our old feathers? I don’t want to be green.
The Wharf was so far away that we had to stop and rest a couple of times. The guys said the young ones were not ready for a direct flight. Guess I am one of several babies that had joined the gang. Then there it was on the horizon. It jutted out into the blue sparkling water and jogged to one side. It had humans on it and the distinct smell of fish hit us.
We all landed on this conveniently located limb that was on all sides of the wharf. Harry gave me another new word to learn. He called it railing. It is something that humans made to keep themselves from falling off the high up walkway. They are so silly humans. They can’t fly so they have to protect their young for years.
Then very quickly, the guys swooped over to where the humans were and landed on the walkway. There were all kinds of food just lying around. They said be quick before the humans see us and get mad. Sure enough they started yelling and running at us.
We flew away a few feet up the wharf and repeated the maneuver until that human chased us away. Before you know it I had a full belly and was so happy we had come here to the wharf.
I will have to show my family this great place and maybe for once Lizzie will stop crying because she will have a mouth full of fish. Gosh I miss them. Then I remember I was lost! How will I ever find my way home?
Edgar gets Home and Bathes –
I’m going home. I’m going home. Harry, the rest of the group and myself are flying north back towards my birth land and where my family is. I am so excited but I need to concentrate on my flight.
As a murder of crows take flight together it takes some fine maneuvering to keep from crashing. We read each other’s minds which is better than human radar. Those Blue Angel pilots don’t have anything on us.
We did the trip in two segments, stopping close to where we had roosted the night before. I know I can find my way back fairly easily. Just fly up the water’s edge and before we know it that wharf with such good eats would be there. Can hardly wait to tell Lizzie about it and take her there.
Then it was in sight. Those tidal rocks and the nursery tree I know so well. It seemed like days and days since I had left but it really was only a little more than one sunset and sunrise. We landed and started chatting with the flock of crows that were foraging there. I recognized some of them but none of them were my family. No Lizzie crying in the distance either. We asked around but no one had seen them.
I was about to cry when Harry said “Come on, look at this little pond just begging us to take a bath”. I had never tried bathing but Harry made it sound so wonderful. I think he was trying to take my mind off my family too.
So, here we are taking a bath in a fresh water tidal pool. The little spring up on the bluff flows down into the rocks and barnacles. There it has created the best pond for us to bathe and play.
But no matter how much Harry goofs off in the water with me, I am still sad about not finding my family. I made it back but a home isn’t a home without my Dad, Mom, Lizzie and Uncle.
How to be a Guard Crow –
We spent the night in the old nursery tree and listened to the tide lap in and out. I was happy to be home and continue to hope my family would come back to the beach soon.
As the next day got going and the tide went out, it exposed lots of sea grass which contained tasty breakfast items. We were all digging around in the grass when what did my eyes behold? My Uncle was flying right up to me!
“Uncle – I am so glad to see you!” I shouted. We did the family crow up close greeting. I bowed my head to my elder and he did a little grooming thing that I so love. My heart was so happy.
I took a deep breath and asked the important question that was drifting like the tide around us. “Where are Mom, Dad & Lizzie?”
“Oh… that is right you flew off before the discussions began on Lizzie’s future. The three of them flew off up north to visit with the family that has a good son who wants to meet Lizzie. It was really exciting for Lizzie to find a new family so early and they didn’t waste time going to see if she might like them.”
I was shocked. Would I ever see my little sister again? I knew that the girls went away to join their husband’s family but I never thought I wouldn’t be able to see her again. My head bowed down and I was no longer so jubilant.
Uncle saw my distress and reassured me that we would see her again. He then said. “Hey, you need to take your next step in the family too. Let me teach you to be a guard while the flock eats.”
And with that he flew over to a snag tree and told me to follow. He instructed me on finding the best viewing places and how to scan the sky for predators. He reminded me about the Osprey incident and how good guardian crows help keep everyone safe.
I found a big rock a little ways from Uncle and we set a perimeter to keep everyone safe. I watched above and around while I pondered what I had learned today. I vowed to myself to find Lizzie and give her a good brotherly peck when I did.
Edgar’s first guard duty
Edgar finds his Sister –
Flying north with Uncle toward the Ferry Dock where my family is off checking out Lizzie’s potential suitor. Well, it is not quite like you think. This is more of an arranged partnership by them and his parents. I think my Mom and Dad like the opportunity that the Ferry Dock Flock can give to my little sister. It is not only next to that thing they call the Ferry but also a park where lots of humans go. This means good trash to pick through for our favorite junk foods.
Edgar with the Ferry Dock in the background
Uncle keeps trying to explain what a Ferry is. Some big thing humans have built and it floats like a log on the water. They put those metal contraptions they call cars on it and then go off to Vashon Island. He said we can go there someday and check it out too. He just wants to be sure I am strong enough to get across the big water. There is no way to survive if you land in the “drink”. So, on we fly by the houses and beaches that are new to me. I want to stop and check them out but am more excited about seeing everyone.
We rounded the point where a really big human built structure is and there it was. A long wharf like the one we ate fish on but so much bigger. It has humans and cars all over it. Uncle says we have to wait for the Ferry because it comes and goes to the big dock. We flew past it and started our search for the flock.
Sure enough as soon as we got close to the park where the trees were tall and down to the water like our nursery tree spot, there they were. It wasn’t too low of a tide but a group was grazing in the seagrass that had washed up. Uncle chuckled that their guards were not very diligent. If a strange bunch of crows had come up to our group they would have checked us out by now.
Then I heard that familiar squeaky voice I love…Lizzie had seen us. She was cawing up a storm as we approached. A group of youngsters gathered around us and she nearly bowled me over as she ran up to me when I landed. She had gotten bigger and was a cute young crow instead of my silly little sister that I remember. Following her was a nice guy who was right there watching over her and making sure she was being careful. She then introduced us and I got to meet her beau, Jonathan. He was nice and I could see he had been brought up well with good manners as he was respectful to Uncle our elder.
We all cawed and clucked for a while and then I asked Lizzie where Mom and Dad were. She said they were at the other end of the beach with Jonathan’s parents. They had let this group of yearlings go off on a small field trip to build their confidence and get to know each other better.
So, we played in the sand on beach for a while. Uncle showed the others how to put up a good perimeter guard and in general made sure we all were safe.
All of a sudden we heard a loud noise. It made those metal car things seem quiet it was so loud. Then there it was the “Ferry”. I stood there with my beak open in awe of it. Lizzie laughed at me and we flew off together to see it up closer. What a great day we are having and no one is lost any more. I missed Lizzie so much I forgot to peck her on the head.
Edgar Grows Up –
All of us flew back to our Home Beach and spent the night up in the Madrona forest. Lizzie was so excited about her new life to be that we didn’t go to sleep till after the moon set.
The next day it was decided that for the winter Uncle and I would go to the big Renton Crow Gathering and Lizzie would join her new family. Mom and Dad would stay behind to manage the home range. I have to say I was sad about losing my little sister but Mom said we would see her in the spring.
To my surprise, Uncle said let’s go. And just like that we were off to fly over hills and rivers to the big gathering. Dad poked me and said to be careful and if I was lucky I might have a girl friend to bring home. He told me that when spring came to come home and help around the place. They would be bringing us some little sisters and brothers into the world and needed help with that. Uncle nudged his sister (my mom) and said he would take good care of me.
And we were off. I have grown up and am on my first adult crow adventure. I will have lots to tell everyone when I get back.