Archive for Corvid

Blue Jay 6/13/18

The word “Jay” was first used to describe loud and garrulous people and flashy dressers, and then later began to be applied to a European bird exhibiting similar characteristics. Today there are close to 60 species of jay worldwide, many of which are found in the American tropics. They are closely related to crows, ravens, and magpies in the Corvid family, all of which are known for their intelligence, and jays in particular for being able to plan ahead as well as their incredible abilities to mimic. The Blue Jay is primarily a year-round forest bird that has adapted well to the park-like habitats of human residential land use in eastern North America. They have one basic plumage of blue, sky-blue, black, white, and pale (sometimes lilac) gray that doesn’t vary year round or between sexes.

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Fish Crow 4/22/18

One doesn’t really see a Fish Crow as much as hear it, at least that’s how it works for me. While driving through Hampton Beach I heard “Aw, Aw, Aw,” and perked up, it was not the expected “Caw, Caw, Caw,” you associate with the American Crow, which I traced to this bird and then chased it a few blocks for a portrait. Most folks don’t realize we have two crow species. Fish Crows are smaller than American Crows, are usually found along the coast and waterways, and we are close to the northern limit of their range. They often have more blue iridescence in their backs which isn’t evident here being a cloudy day, there’s a sharp hook on the tip of its closed beak but you can’t see that in this head-on shot (but in others I have), and they have some different behaviors. But unless you happen have both species sitting side by side, they are pretty indistinguishable except for their call.

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American Crow 5/15/17

Often in spring you’ll see American Crows strutting around the lawn, foraging for worms and other insects. Other times when there are several, they may take turns holding forth with their opinions like at a town meeting. Crows are one of the most intelligent of all birds and mate for life when they are 3 to 5 years old.

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A murder of crows 2/5/17

Collective nouns for birds are fun—a “convocation” of eagles, a “college” of cardinals, and the proverbial “murder” of crows. Except in the Canadian population which migrates south, most American Crows are year-round birds that gather into large communal roosts for the night during the winter months, some with as many as a million birds. This one on Sagamore Creek in Portsmouth was just getting underway with new birds still arriving from all directions and by 3:30pm when I came across it, was already numbering more than 400. There’s quite a racket going on too, individuals stomping up and down the spartina grasses, some foraging, others holding forth on their opinions before settling into the trees for the night.

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Blue Jay and roadkill 2/12/15

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Nature’s a restaurant.

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American Crows 1/21/15

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There’s not much to tell about these three, just making mischief. But I do love a good crow story . . .

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Blue Jay 9/16/14

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With a shaggy throat like that, it’s no surprise to learn that Blue Jays are close cousins to Ravens.

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