Tag: crows

Oregon Birding

I just realized that I created this post for my trip to Oregon, but forgot to schedule it to be published. Sorry for the delay, here it is!

Fort Stevens State Park (Hammond, OR)

Crater Lake




Great Horned Owl Attacked by a Murder of Crows

Great Horned Owl

My husband and I were out gardening when a murder of six crows flew overhead making the largest racket. Right as I turned my head, a mangle of powerful wings crash land onto a pine tree in my neighbor’s backyard. Once the crows flew away, I saw there was a Great Horned Owl left in the branches in nursing it’s wounds. Immediately, the crows took turns dive-bombing the poor owl for the next hour or so. The owl stood firm and unmoving the entire time.

I was intrigued by the crows’ flight patterns. Two crows sat in adjacent trees cawing to the others flying in the air. The airborne four would circle around and start their attacks after the other two started making noise. I’m not sure if the other two were lookouts or they were there to signal when to attack. In either case, it seemed highly organized.

Then the team would take turns diving at the owl, each time coming in from a slightly different direction in attempts to get a better shot. Although their aim appeared to decline the longer they attacked, they did seem to rotate strategies to see what would be the most effective.

However, the owl had picked an optimal spot to rest because the crows could never get a good shot. The owl lost a feather once, but that appeared to be the only damage it received. That’s what I thought at least until I got a closer look at the photographs on my computer. Look at the difference in the two eyes in the photo below.

Owl with Eye Issue

I’m not sure if the crows did this, but one of the owl’s eyes is extremely dilated which might be why it never tried to escape. I can’t seem to find any information about this kind of eye issue in birds online. Even though I’m concerned for the owl, I’m also excited because this is the best view I’ve gotten of the owls in my neighborhood. They frequent the trees across the street during the fall and you can hear them hooting around Halloween (which has been a delight). I know that there are at least two in the area during the fall, but I’ve never been able to see them any other time of year.

If you have any ideas as to what is causing the dilated eye, please let me know. It seemed to stay dilated the entire time it was here, even an hour after the crows left. I managed to take a quick video of it flying away. I removed the audio because all you could hear was my dog barking.

Sketching Crows and Making Them More Colorful

July 16th Crow sketches

Taking the Sketchbook on a Walk

I went out for a walk with my sketchbook this time. I found it incredibly difficult to sketch and keep my dog from pulling on his leash. Apparently, I take too long… although to be fair, if I stopped walking for 3 seconds, that’s too long for the pooch. It would be nice to have some way to have the leash attached to my waist while I sketched so every little tug doesn’t send my pencil across the page. I understand why birders wear the big cargo vest now.

I’m unsure what the solution is for the pooch leash problem. I was thinking of trying to get some sort of fanny pack and attaching a leash to it. Unfortunately, fanny packs are possibly the least stylish thing you can wear, so I was thinking about getting a running belt instead so it’s slightly less ugly.

New Watercolor Pencil Technique

Anyhoo, back to sketching. Since the majority of the birds out today were crows, after I was done filling in the color, it page was way too boring. Shades of gray don’t really inspire much, so I decided to add some color in the background. I sketched some light blue around one crow, but once I wet the color streaks appeared and the color ended up being too intense and distracted from the dark crow. After playing around, I found the best solution was to rub the water brush tip on the pencil itself so I only got a little bit of ink onto the tip. This way, the ink color is less intense because it’s more diluted with water.

In the images below, you can see how the background is less distracting because it’s not so saturated. It also fades out better because it allows for better gradients. I added a little around the bird and then used more water around that color so the fade is gradual. I also used this same technique, going back to add a little more color to the actual birds themselves. It allowed for better shades of gray since any of the pencils that have white in them don’t really blend well. I could pull color from the black pencil instead of using the various gray pencils since they are hard to work with. Awesome. Hope this technique helps you out too.


After posting this, I saw on the Audubon Society’s facebook page had a TED talk about crows and after doing minimal research, I found that there is not just one, but two talks on crows. They are very entertaining and have changed my views on crows, so I thought that I would share.