I was going to do a simple post about this image of a Fish Crow (Corvus ossifragus) with a young Gopher Tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus) in its bill that was taken on Egmont Key State Park (also Egmont Key National Wildlife Refuge), an island located just to the west of Fort De Soto, Florida.
Then I remembered some reactions & comments on Facebook that were made after a post I published about Fish Crows last year (seen here) about how unpopular they are with shorebird conservationists because they eat the chicks and eggs of other birds. It isn’t just shorebird conservationists that dislike Fish Crows, I’ve heard people call them disgusting, annoying and a nuisance.
(The Fish Crow above did not eat the young Gopher Tortoise, after this image was taken the Fish Crow let the it drop to the soft sand below the sign and flew off perhaps to find something easier to eat. )
Yes, Fish Crows do eat eggs of other birds and they will eat the young nestlings if given a chance. They will also eat turtle eggs, fish that wash up on the shoreline, carrion, fruits, seeds, worms, insects, mollusks or any kind of edible garbage they can find near parking lots, public beaches, picnic areas, trash cans, dumpsters and streets.
Great Blue Herons eat the eggs of other birds but most people don’t dislike them they way they dislike Fish Crows. Bald Eagles and Peregrine Falcons will take the chicks of ducks, shore and water birds. People are fascinated by the majestic Eagles and in awe of the power of Peregrine Falcons, not so with a Fish Crow.
I don’t know why, aren’t they all doing what comes naturally? Don’t they all need to eat? Is it because Fish Crows aren’t as regal as an eagle? Or as beautifully streamlined as a falcon?
When I look at the Fish Crow in the image above I can’t help but like the bird for what it is. I can’t dislike or be repulsed by it for finding whatever sustenance it needs to survive. Every bird needs to eat.
At the end of the day I am more concerned about the impact humans have on nesting shorebirds than Fish Crows. We have reduced shorebird nesting grounds because of overdevelopment, polluted their hunting areas with fertilizers, pesticides and oil byproducts, we have disturbed or destroyed their natural habitat and put many species at risk.
That I can dislike.