Sunday, July 11, 2010
One of the sounds of summer in our yard is the plaintive cries of young American crows (Corvus brachyrhynchos) begging to be fed by their parents. Although a pair built their nest around the corner this year, they like to spend their afternoons in the valley oak in our back yard, often parking the kids there while they go out to find food for them. Our dog, Chloe, listens for the cries of the babies and heads outside when she hears it because it means that she can have the food that doesn't make it into their beaks. This can be anything from bits of donuts to packets of mayonnaise and ketchup. Yum!
Last week, several crows came around at the end of the day, two days in a row, and loudly congregated in some redwoods a block away from our house. I've seen large numbers of them congregate in those same trees as the seasons change, but this was a midsummer party.
The black and white bird in the upper left corner was drawn earlier in the day at Howarth Park. I saw it foraging on a trail but didn't recognize the markings. After watching for a bit I thought it seemed very familiar and then realized it reminded me of a California towhee (Pipilo crissalis) which led me to realize that it was a young Spotted towhee (Pipilo maculatus). The adults have such distinctive coloring that this drab youngster fooled me for a few minutes.