On Wednesday morning in the Wilson Arts Plaza at Emily Carr University of Art + Design, Dr. Cameron Cartiere and a team of volunteers installed 6,000 individually numbered fledglings. A true measure of the community, the fledglings took over the plaza in less than an hour and a half.
The fledglings are one part of a community-engaged art project called As the Crow Flies, led by Cameron and the chART Project team. They were created over a period of months earlier this year at workshops across Vancouver, with the help of countless community members of all ages.
Cameron took some time during the installation to share the inspiration behind her project, and where community members and bird enthusiasts can see the fledglings during the upcoming Vancouver International Bird Festival (August 19-26).
Aside from the ubiquity of crows in Vancouver, what drew you to them for this project?
Because crows are the unofficial ambassador of Vancouver.
The 6,000 fledglings came from the low-end estimate of the flock that travels every day from Vancouver to the Still Creek Rookery in Burnaby. The estimation is between 6,000 and 20,000 birds. I chose the low end for this flock otherwise I think I might have lost my team.
This is the only time that all the fledglings will be installed together. Why did you choose to do that here?
This project was really about community. We specifically wanted to foster our own community, which is why several events have taken place on campus and why the first flight will occur at ECU. It’s a tribute to all the faculty, staff, and students that took part in this project.
Who are some of your creative collaborators for this project?
The Nesting Nests project was done in collaboration with Jaymie Johnson, an ECU alum. What’s really amazing about these projects is that while I was the genesis for the concept, they have all been created in collaboration with other members of the ECU community.
What can people do to make the city more crow-friendly?
It’s not necessarily about making the city crow-friendly, but rather promoting an awareness of the habitats that we share within Vancouver. For instance, urban crows make their nests much higher than rural crows, but most people don’t notice that there is a nest above them. Most negative crow stories involve dive-bombing, but when you get to the root of the matter, it likely happened during fledgling season when they are protecting the nest.
The mortality rate of fledglings is 50%, which is reflective in the fragile material that we chose. Although we had hundreds of people helping with this project, we have only lost maybe a dozen of the 6,000 crows in the process. If a ceramic crow breaks, it is a great lesson on that fragility.
The Nesting Nests that will take place on the Arbutus Greenway is a nice tie in to the protection of fledglings in the nest. Will there be any fledglings there?
Yes, we’re reserving half the fledglings to give away during the events. The nests themselves were woven from harvested invasive species, which provides another lesson about habitats.
Where can people see the fledglings during Vancouver International Bird Festival?
The fledglings will be at a number of events, including three On the Wing animation events:
- Monday, August 20th, 9-10pm
MacLean Park, 710 Keefer Street
- Wednesday, August 22nd, 9-10pm
Queen Elizabeth Park, 4600 Cambie Street
- Friday, August 24th, 9-10pm
Arbutus Greenway, 57th and East Blvd.
They'll also be perching at community centres during the Festival. You can find them across the city:
- Tuesday, August 21st, all day
Strathcona Community Centre, 601 Keefer Street
Creekside Community Centre, 1 Athlete's Way
- Wednesday, August 22nd, all day
Mt. Pleasant Community Centre, 1 Kingsway
- Thursday, August 23rd, all day
Hillcrest Community Centre, 4575 Clancy Loranger Way
Oak Park Field House/Marpole-Oakridge Community Centre, 990 W. 59th
Anyone is welcome at these events, and fledglings will be ready for you to take home!