Thanks for the accounts of your experiences, and for your questions.
I'm not an expert regarding crow vocalizations. However, from an eBird
reviewer's perspective I have a couple of observations.
First, not surprisingly, in areas where both Fish Crows and American
Crows are abundant, I'm told that birders can separate the two species
by a variety of vocalizations in large part because those folks get to
hear both species regularly and year round. Much like how we recognize
Black-capped Chickadees from a wide selection of vocalizations, rather
subconsciously .... and not just a single, identifying song.
Secondly, the crow article linked below was written in response to a
notable spike in Fish Crow submissions in the Champlain Valley at
locations unlike the sparse, but concentrated, sites in the Burlington
urban area from which early records came. Most of those reports from
new locations from less urban to rural settings came with no
documentation, or documentation limited to perceived small size, or
because of a vocalization often described as nasal.
Because the uh.....uh pattern is unique to Fish Crows and easily
recognized, it is very useful for documentation of the species. And, of
all possible "in the field" identifying features it is by far the
easiest. By asking birders to document Fish Crows via the uh....uh
pattern the results were immediate. All the locations with well
documented uh......uh phrases were from the built up areas of greater
Burlington. This supported the notion that the increase in reports from
none urban areas were likely not Fish Crows.
Since the article was written, there has been a slow but persistent
increase in documented occurrences of Fish Crows between the population
in Glens Falls and the population in Burlington. The story is well
traced by looking at the eBird maps for the species year by year from
the first record in Vermont in 1993.
On 2/3/2019 9:19 AM, Scott Sainsbury wrote:
> Hi Ian,
> I agree that Fish Crow ID by vocalization can be tricky. I often hear the nasal-y begging call from the American Crow family that lives in our neighborhood. Always during nesting / fledging season. And sometimes beyond. Years ago, I was fooled by it, thinking I , at first, that was hearing a fish crow. In tone, it can be very close to a fish crow. But, over time figured out that it was a member or members of “our” local crow family. I had thought that perhaps is was fledglings, but the article you referenced cited females as the source. Do youngsters make the call, too?
> Another observation — both the example of the fish crow vocalization in the article you referenced, and the vast majority of the fish crow vocalizations on the Macauley site, offer recordings of single note calls. This surprised me as I’ve often been entertained and delighted when I hear the UH-UH two note call — and think of it as the reference ID sound for Fish Crows. (https://search.macaulaylibrary.org/catalog?taxonCode=fiscro&mediaType=a&q=Fish%20Crow%20-%20Corvus%20ossifragus <https://search.macaulaylibrary.org/catalog?taxonCode=fiscro&mediaType=a&q=Fish%20Crow%20-%20Corvus%20ossifragus>) Is that actually a less frequently used vocalization? Is there any significance to which the bird employs?
> As always, thanks much for your insights.
> Scott Sainsbury
>> On Feb 3, 2019, at 8:08 AM, Ian Worley <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>> Hello all,
>> Fish Crows are in the conversation these days in the Burlington area. For tips on locating and reporting Fish Crows, check out this article that's on the Vermont eBird website. Confirming Fish Crows can be a bit tricky and take some patience.
>> "Counting Vermont's Crows"
>> Enjoy your winter birding!
>> eBird reviewer for Vermont's Champlain Valley