[Tweeters] Olympia: Crow Chase Continues

ray holden rayleeholden at yahoo.com
Tue Jan 1 19:40:46 PST 2013

After a full hour and a half observation I discovered that the Mud Bay trees aren't the roost, they are a way station and also a cross roads.  Here's what happened.  

At 3:05 I stopped on the bridge by the Buzz Inn restaurant on Mud Bay Rd when I saw crows milling around. As I stopped a crow flew in and landed on the bridge rail right beside the car and peered into the passenger side window.   It startled me because it came it so fast I thought it was going to crash into the glass.  

3:15 I parked in the park and ride lot on Madrona Rd and walked down to the beach where I met a birder who was here from Wales for a Christmas business.  We chatted about birding here and in the UK for 45 minutes and had a great time.  He thinks the Pacific NW is a birding paradise and I agree.  I told him that I was there searching for the Crow roost and he was thrilled when the first wave of birds flew in.  There were a hundred or so birds already in the area mostly hanging out on a tiny low-tide created island.  When a couple hundred new comer's showed up at 3:20 they all spread out looking for snacks on the beach.  I told him that this wasn't the main wave it was too early and too small.   Come to think of it they came it from a slightly different angle too. 

They  moved up and down the beach and many began moving into the trees I had earlier identified at 3:50.  So far so good.  

3:58 The crows in the trees began to get excited and many of the ones on the ground took off and began milling around calling loudly.  They had seen the black cloud approaching from the east.  The incoming Marine Drive flock.  

4:00 the birds arrive from downtown flying low over the tree tops.  Everybody was really excited and 1000 or so crows can make a lot of noise.  A few drop out landed and a few from the trees and ground joined the cloud but they didn't land in the trees.  They kept going and going and going until they were out of sight over the ridge to the west toward 101 after the Shelton exit.  There were still several hundred excited crows in the trees and milling around and after several minutes they began leaving heading toward the SW in a different direction to a different roost.   

4:15 When I left there were still a few birds milling around on the beach but all those who were still leaving were following the SW flock.  The two flocks crossed paths at Mud Bay and sorted themselves out then moved on to where ever they roost. 

All the crows that were there before,  what I call the downtown birds, came through were very actively beach combing and they mostly seemed to leave together.  Could there be a flock of NW Crows beach combing birds and a larger flock American Crows?  There are crows that work the mud flats downtown but not many compared to the overall number.  I've always assumed they were all the same.  Maybe not.  Most of them marshal along Marine Drive before leaving but there are also other smaller pockets which I sort of thought of as a family group type of thing.   Maybe they don't marshel together because they aren't the same breed.  Every time I do something like this I come away with more questions than answers.  The chase goes on.  I'll figure out where I can catch up with them next and see how far it goes.  

If you want a good crow show just walk down the trail from the park and ride and watch what happens.  You may come away with different thoughts. 

Ray Holden

Olympia, WA

Life is for the birds.

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