Wednesday, June 23, 2010

American crows, Northwest crows, and ravens

On my recent trip to Seabeck, WA, at low tide on Seabeck Bay, I spent some time in Meeting for Worship with Attention to Shore Birds. More on that wonder later, with pictures, I hope.

Some of those birds were crows; and I commented on an email list recently about how much more gregarious crows are in the Pacific Northwest of the US than they are in the Mid-Atlantic. Someone asked, Might they have been ravens?

I was pretty sure they weren't -- they didn't look enough different from crows, for one -- but this did prompt me to go do some research, especially at U Mich's Animal Diversity Web. Which, among other things, often has great recordings of bird calls.

Yes, there's a difference between the American crows I grew up with in the East, and the Northwest crows I became friends with in Seattle and visited with there and on the Kitsap Peninsula this trip. And neither of them are ravens.

Here's what I found. Enjoy!

Northwest crow:

Here's how they sound, which caused me to say, "Yep! That's them!":

American crow:

Common raven:


Alyss said...

But remember - all crows in the Northwest are not Northwest Crows :) We don't have any of those down here in Portland. The one link you posted says they are found along the coast from Alaska to northern Washington State. We just have American Crows here in Oregon, even though it is clearly the Northwest. Cool birds, aren't they?

sta┼Ťa said...

Good point! (And some disagree about whether Northwest crows are actually a different species from American crows.)

The Seattle Audubon Society has a link to their WA range; I would look to see if your local Audubon Society has info on whether or not / where they can be found in OR. They certainly like tidal areas, and you've definitely got some of those... :)

These folks ( seem to think they're pretty exclusively Puget Sound critters, but I don't know if that means "in WA, exclusive to Puget Sound," or, "in the PNW, exclusive to Puget Sound," though I suspect the former, b/c the latter is plain silly. And excludes Canada and Alaska.

Cornell University also says ( "Northwestern Crows live on the Pacific coast from southern Alaska to the Puget Sound."

They are cool birds, and I like them a lot. I rather miss them here. And Stellar's jays. But I missed blue jays when I was there. :)