Fish Crow and Lep Update

One of a group of some dozen Fish Crows passing overhead (and calling) on Saturday (3/6/10).

Though Fish Crows have been seen and heard in our area (Piedmont) for several weeks, Saturday (3/6) was the first sighting for me at the Museum. If I hadn’t heard them first I would have passed them off as American Crows. Although Fish Crows are a bit smaller the two species look very much alike. Luckily, their calls are a bit different. Fish Crows sound like an American Crow with its nose pinched as it calls, it’s very nasal.

It’s very difficult to gauge the bird’s size in flight, but sometimes you can distinguish the two by size alone or by the cadence of their wing-beat , but I wouldn’t bank on either.

Most Fish Crows leave our area in winter so it’s a sort of spring right-of-passage to see them each year at this time, one of the undeniable signs that spring is upon us.

As far as the Leps, Saturday also brought out a few butterflies. A Questionmark, American Snout and Mourning Cloak were seen.


2 responses to Fish Crow and Lep Update

  1. Nate says:

    That’s a nice photo of the crow. Another field mark to distinguish Fish from American is also visible.

    In Fish Crows, primary #5 is quite a bit shorter that primary #6, whereas they’re about the same in American Crows. If you can get a good look of a slowly flapping crow, you can usually separate them as the Fish Crows wingtips seem slightly more paddle-shaped.

    • Greg Dodge, Ranger says:

      Thanks Nathan.
      For those of you interested in the finer points of crow identification, the two web sites below will help you understand what Nathan mentioned in his comments, and more.
      Bird identification can be fun, but it can be frustrating too. Don’t be intimidated. It’s like most things in life, once you become familiar with what it is you’re supposed to be doing, or looking at, the mystery and anxiety fades away. Take your time and go at your own pace. But most of all, have fun!
      Here’s the web sites:

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