Their Corvid Majesties apparently decided that two babies were enough for this year. I kept an eye on the nest as best I could but one evening the other three eggs were there and the next day they were gone. I thought at first they were outside of the camera’s view but alas, when I broke the rules and checked, all the eggs were gone.
It turns out that corvids are known for destroying their own eggs. I spoke to a breeder who said it was a defensive mechanism: if the birds sense danger, such as a snake, raptor, other crows, they will destroy the eggs. That’s why most breeders keep their birds secluded from the outside world. Apparently only the males eat the eggs. I guess the theory is that if a predator is going to get them, it’s better to get the nutritional value yourself than share it with some lousy reptile.
This doesn’t quite explain Gwen and Stephen. While Gwen was on eggs, Washington Gas finally showed up to install a gas line (our furnace when out in December but that’s another story) and dug up our front yard. They didn’t care.
It’s only after a few of the eggs have hatched that the others get destroyed. They have followed this pattern for the past two years. I thought it was Gwen deciding how much motherhood she was up for in a particular year. But the threat theory might fit as well. Super Hub noticed that Stephen was perturbed by the neighbors kids jumping on a trampoline. Their heads would appear above the fence, then disappear, then reappear. That was about the same time that the eggs were eaten. Per M. Crowbert, backhoes are OK but bouncing children are not. Fair enough I guess.
The good news is the two babies are doing well. Here’s a video clip of Gwen feeding them. The picture is dark because we put an extra tarp over the roof to keep out all the rain.
On the video, you can see Gwen pick up something white and fly off with it. She is, uh, changing the chick’s diapers by removing fecal sacs from the nest. Crows usually get the best of humans but in this case, I’m calling opposable thumbs and Pampers for the win.
The babies have now gone from little pink blobs to hideous mini-dinosaurs with little black spikes all over them, otherwise known as pin feathers. I shall be pulling at least one in the next few days. If you know folks interested in entering into the service of a pied crow, send them my way.