[Tweeters] Northwestern crows -- chasing a shadow?

Jason Hernandez jason.hernandez74 at yahoo.com
Tue Jan 28 19:49:08 PST 2014

One of my constant sources of consternation birding in the Northwest is that every identification guide distinguishes the American crow, Corvus brachyrhynchos, from the Northwestern crow, Corvus caurinus -- and then emphasizes how impossible they are to tell apart.

Sure, Peterson's shows distinct range maps, but we all know not to rely on range maps; just read any day's posts on Tweeters for sightings of birds in places where the range maps say they shouldn't be.  And the American crow is so adaptable and omnivorous, I would not assume a crow on the beach eating shellfish would necessarily be the Northwestern.  It's enough to make me miss the South -- there, the fish crow Corvus ossifragus at least has a distinct call!

Sooo... is there any hope at all of being sure I have actually seen both these species, or are we doomed to just call them all "crow" and leave it at that?

Jason Hernandez

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