The harsh caws of American Crows are one of the most familiar bird calls in North America. Fish Crows sometimes join flocks of American Crows as they forage for food. The two crow species look similar, but have a distinct call that sounds a bit like an American Crow with a stuffy nose. The Fish Crow is found in much of the eastern U.S. and is spreading to new areas north and west to breed.
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The Nasally Fish Crow
Written by Conor Gearin
This is BirdNote.
[American Crow calls, ML 229089, 1:50-1:54]
The harsh caws of American Crows are one of the most familiar bird calls in North America. But a few crows in this flock sound like they’ve got stuffy noses!
[Fish Crow call, ML 73884, 0:13-0:14]
The birds aren’t under the weather, of course. They’re Fish Crows, a different species from the more widespread American Crow.
Fish Crows are a little smaller than American Crows; otherwise they look very similar. But their voices are distinctive. The American Crow’s hoarse caws:
[American Crow calls, ML 229089, 2:10-2:12]
and the nasally calls of the Fish Crow:
[Fish Crow call, ML 73884, 0:16-0:18]
While they do love seafood, Fish Crows aren’t limited to coastal areas. They’re found in much of the eastern U.S., and the species seems to be spreading to new areas north and west to breed.
In winter, Fish Crows join flocks of American Crows looking for food in cities and landfills, where they’ll sometimes squabble for a tasty morsel with a fellow scavenger like a raccoon or a gull.
So if you hear a bird in your neighborhood that sounds like it could use some cold medicine, keep an eye out for Fish Crows.
[Combine Fish Crow call, ML 73884, 1:31-1:33 with American Crow calls, ML 229089, 1:50-1:54]
For BirdNote, I’m Michael Stein.
Today’s show brought to you by the Bobolink Foundation.
Senior Producer: John Kessler
Content Director: Allison Wilson
Producer: Mark Bramhill
Associate Producer: Ellen Blackstone
Managing Producer: Conor Gearin
Bird sounds provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. American Crow ML 229089 recorded by B. McGuire, and Fish Crow ML73884 recorded by G. Keller.
BirdNote’s theme was composed and played by Nancy Rumbel and John Kessler.
© 2022 BirdNote January 2022 Narrator: Michael Stein
ID # FICR-01-2022-01-12 FICR-01