• Fish Crow

    Common NameFish Crow
    Scientific NameCorvus ossifragus
    Type of ReportRare Species
    Date of Observation05/04/2017
    Number Observed1
    Reporting Observer's NameRonald Payne
    Mailing Address496 Weybridge St.
    Middlebury, Vermont 05753
    United States
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    EmailEmail hidden; Javascript is required.
    Date Completed06/23/2017
    Names & Emails of Other Contributing Observers

    Jeff Hullstrung, .

    Latitude of Observation44.120262
    Longitude of Observation-73.242656
    Place NameSunset View Cemetery
    Vermont eBird Checklist URLebird.org
    Time of Day10:00 AM
    Length of Time Observed1 minute
    Maximum Estimated Distance from Bird (in feet)200
    Minimum Estimated Distance from Bird (in feet)20, directly overhead in flight.
    Noteworthy Weather Conditions

    Sunny, clear skies, no significant winds.

    Optical Equipment Used for Observation

    Payne: Pentax 8X42 DCF

    Meade model 125025 binoculars 10 X 42

    Observer’s Previous Acquaintance With This or Similar Species

    Payne, none with Fish Crows, but extensive experience with American Crow, including experience with the early breeding season female begging call that is said to sound like Fish Crow.

    Hullstrung has had regular, recent experience hearing Fish Crows calling in the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania area.

    I certify that that attachments included with this report were captured during this observation event​​.
    Description of Habitat

    Cemetery surrounded by hay fields, farms, with woods and a low mountain ridge line to the East.

    Behaviors Observed

    Flying with regular, constant wing beats.

    Description of Vocalizations

    Heard a nasal "uh" followed by an "uh-uh" call.

    Verbal Narrative & Description of Observation

    We were at the Sunset View Cemetery to monitor the cliff face of Buck Mountain as a potential Peregrine Falcon nesting site. While observing the cliff, we heard an "uh" call from the Northwest at which we turned to face the sound. Immediately after that, three crows flew into view in a loose chevron formation about 20 or so feet high. The center of these three birds then gave a second call of "uh-uh" and flew directly overhead of us flying and headed away in a straight line to the southeast. All three birds appeared to be of the same size, but the look was so brief a real comparison wasn't possible. Payne looked at the center bird with his binoculars, Hullstrung didn't use his binoculars. After the birds were gone, both Payne and Hullstrung independently offered the ID of Fish Crow based on the call.

    Relative Size & Shape

    A large black bird with a classic crow shape. To Payne's eyes, the bird may have been daintier and shorter winged than American Crow.



    Feet & Bill

    Black bill. Black feet tucked against undertail coverts.

    Upper Back


    Lower Back & Rump



    Black, broad wings.

    Breast, Belly, Flanks, Under Tail Coverts

    All black.


    Black, with rounded tip.

    IMPORTANT: What similar species were eliminated when making the identification and how was this bird different?

    Too small, wrong wing and tail shape to be a Common Raven. Ravens were seen several times during the time we were there including one observation of them at a similar altitude overhead as the Fish Crows, and also cavorting in treetops nearby (see pictures in eBird checklist).

    The "uh-uh" call was too nasal and perfectly Fish Crow patterned for it to have been an American Crow. Payne has experience with the early-season begging call of Female American Crows which is said to sound like Fish Crow, but when you hear recordings of both, they are plainly different. The calls we heard was not that American Crow begging call. Juvenile American Crows are also said to make a begging call that resembles Fish Crows, but it was too early in the year for juveniles to be flying.

    Other Notes & Comments

    It's probable that all three crows in the formation were Fish Crows, but scrutiny was only really given to the center bird that had given the vocalization.

    This report was written from notes taken:Immediately After

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