Coexisting with crows: Burnaby’s feathered friends

Rebecca Lawrence, Cole Sorenson / January 30th, 2020

Thousands of crows flock to Burnaby’s Still Creek area to roost, something that is not always welcomed by residents and business owners. Crow-lovers June Hunter and John Merrett hope they can inspire others to respect the crows and their habitats, in order to peacefully coexist.

They might be in luck, as Ornithologist George Clulow states, the Burnaby crows aren’t going anywhere.

The Artist

June Hunter in her East Vancouver studio with dog Geordie.
(Rebecca Lawrence / BCIT News)

In an East Vancouver backyard, one woman strives to end the negative stigma associated with crows.

June Hunter is an artist. More specifically she’s an artist who specializes in crows.

In her studio June creates all matter of crow related art, ranging from bags and pillows to pins and trinkets.

Each item has the distinct black bird front and centre.

“I have a hashtag “crow therapy”. I’ve written blog posts about it, just because of the different ways I find crows to be therapeutic.” – June Hunter, artist

Crows are often seen as a nuisance. June finds this to be the exact opposite of her experiences with the bird.

“[It’s] their attitude. They’re confident but at the same time sensible. The other thing that you can see in their eyes is a constant risk benefit analysis, like they’re doing calculations all the time.” – June Hunter, artist

Crows are especially prevalent in Burnaby. According to the annual Christmas Bird Count, there are over 14,000 crows in the Still Creek area.

Through attempts to displace and disperse them, crows have maintained their presence near and around Still Creek.

Some of June’s crow based art work on display.

(Rebecca Lawrence / BCIT News)

The Documentary

The Business Owner

John Merrett is the former owners of Wicks and Wax, a Burnaby based wax and candle maker.

Merrett attended BCIT in the mid 60’s, when the school was the only building in the area.

“…there were fields that were across Canada Way and the highway, and there was swamp land basically with trees in them. Over the years businesses have moved in and built huge warehouses and things.” -John Merrett, Wicks and Wax

With development encroaching on crow territory, John is a firm believer that businesses should co-exist with the birds rather than chase them away.

Former Wicks & Wax owner John Merrett gets a handful of food ready for some crows.

Crows gather in the snow behind Wicks & Wax.

(Courtesy/Laurence Criton)

The wax warehouse has become a social centre for local crows to gather.

The birds around Wicks and Wax have grown accustom to John’s daily feedings, and have built up a rapport with the boss.

“I go out there in the afternoon, not every day but quite often and give them some food. The average crow has to eat 11 oz of food a day to survive…The minute I come out, it all goes quiet.” – John Merrett

As for other businesses who don’t enjoy crow activity, Merrett adds that they’re in the crow’s territory. So, “expect it.”

Still Creek