Sometimes, if there are no birds or wild animals in the vicinity (which is often the case in the heavily-populated parks near my Seattle home) I’ll just sit and take in the scenery …. with camera ready in case something unexpected happens. In Seattle, I can almost always count on crows showing up, even if they’re often camera shy. Since I love photographing urban wildlife, I’ll take any crows that come my way, and I’ll raise you a pellet-casting crow. (More on that in a sec.)

After I posted my last crow image — of the banded crow — a friend on Facebook posted this:

“The Native Americans say that crows move bad energy. Wherever they appear is where they need to be. Interesting perspective.”

I hadn’t heard that particular adage. But it will be on my mind forever more when I’m around crows. In one of my recent favorite books, Crow Planet, author Lyanda Lynn Haupt discusses the confluence of human and crow culture — how crows are synanthropes, thriving alongside humans, often adapting to the disrupted ecology we create. If the above native observation is true, then we can conclude, on a spiritual level, that crows arrive in throngs to heal our broken environments. Well … that’s how I will choose to see it.

So, I was sitting on the beach at Carkeek Park, just north of Seattle, when a group of crows landed near me and started foraging in the sand. I shot this one frame of a crow catching afternoon light, with a bit of sand on his beak.

Crow on Seattle Beach
Crow on Log on Seattle Beach
American Crow Coughing Up Pellet
American Crow Coughing Up Pellet
American Crow Coughing Up Pellet

This crow never did cast a pellet. She went through the regurgitation routine at least five times, upchucking a morsel which she then swallowed again. After a several such cycles, she trundled back into the sand to join her group.

I asked my supervisor at the wildlife hospital about other reasons a crow might regurgitate. She speculated that it was a normal pellet-casting routine, even though no pellet resulted here. She also said it could have been part of the crow’s mating behavior. If you have any other insights, I’d love to know. For now, I’m going with the pellet-casting/no-pellet theory.

The focal length here was 150mm which — on my four-thirds lens — equates to 300mm (35mm equivalent with 2x crop factor).