June Hunter knows her crows. From cloudy eyed Mabel to White Wing (who sports one pale feather), Hunter has spent countless hours with the birds in her East Van neighbourhood. The motley crew of corvidae inspired Hunter to write her new book, City Crow Stories, available online for pre-order now.
Part memoir interwoven with scientific tidbits and worldly wisdom, City Crow Stories profiles the seven birds Hunter sees most often on her thrice-daily walks.
In addition to Mabel and White Wing, Hunter’s book features stories about Mr. Walker, who follows dutifully for the occasional peanut; Marvin and Mavis, a mated pair who live just outside her front door; Benjamin with the bent-back foot; and Pearl, who reminds Hunter of Vermeer’s "Girl with a Pearl Earring." Hunter’s own photography accompanies the narrative that spans 15 years of bird watching.
“I want to encourage people to appreciate the nature that is right beside them right now,” Hunter says. “If we could just appreciate our bird neighbours, we’d all be better off.”
Connect with the crows by spending more time outside and simply watching their antics. It’s how Hunter became familiar with her inky-winged neighbours. Her patient observation has paid off—Hunter can even tell the jet-black birds apart based on their location, behaviour, and small distinguishing features. She considers her time with the crows a privilege she didn’t enjoy before moving to Vancouver.
“I grew up in an industrial place. I was bird deprived as a child,” she says. “Now, every bird seems like an incredible luxury to me.”
If Hunter’s book sparks some latent crow fascination in you, she suggests you take a trip to their roost in Still Creek.
“I like to go out there when I feel a bit low about something. I find that crow energy exhilarating — it’s like feeling an ocean tide.”