Fish Crows – Why I can’t dislike them

Fish Crow with a young Gopher Tortise on a No Pets signFish Crow with a young Gopher Tortoise on a No Pets sign – Nikon D200, handheld, f6.3, 1/1250, ISO 250, Nikkor 80-400mm VR at 250mm, natural light, not baited

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. )

Adult Gopher TortiseAdult Gopher Tortoise on Egmont Key – Nikon D200, handheld, f6.3, 1/1500, ISO 250, Nikkor 80-400mm VR at 400mm, natural light

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.

Fish Crow with nesting materialFish Crow with nesting material, Fort De Soto County Park – Nikon D200, handheld, f7.1, 1/750, ISO 200, Nikkor 80-400mm VR at 340mm, natural light, not baited

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.

Sunset at Fort De SotoSunset at Fort De Soto – Nikon D200, f6.3, 1/3200, ISO 500, Nikkor 80-400mm VR at 400mm

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.

Mia

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About Mia McPherson

I am a nature lover, wildlife watcher and a bird photographer. I first become serious about bird photography when I moved to Florida in 2004 and it wasn’t long before I was hooked (addicted is more like it). My move to the Salt Lake area of Utah was a great opportunity to continue observing their behavior and to pursue my passion for photographing birds.

15 Comments

  1. Corvids are one of the most fascinating and intelligent bird families on the planet, yet people hate them? Me thinks some folks hate the notion that a bird can be smarter than they are. Seriously, humans are obviously the most destructive and over consuming species on the planet. How can anyone dislike a species for doing only what it needs to survive? I just don’t understand some people (he says, scratching his head in disbelief).

    Your photos are excellent as always Mia, and I’m glad you decided not to write a “simple” post on the Fish Crow and wrote this expanded version instead. You are a wise one! Love the shot of the Fish Crow with nesting material.

    • Larry, I don’t understand why people hate Corvids, I think they are all fascinating. Thanks so much for commenting on this post, I am glad I didn’t just keep it simple.

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  3. They are elegant, streamlined, clever, and all these characteristics annoy humans. I like image #3 with the twig in its beak. I also believe humans are annoyed with the fish crow’s highly complex social structures and behaviour. They see flocks of them taking over, outsmarting all sorts of situations and environments and question why such a colourless, plain and ordinary bird do those things?

  4. I agree with Mia..crows are very intelligent and they are part of the balance of nature. We as humans, do more damage than the birds do to each other in the race for survival. I paint a lot of crows and ravens, and people are fascinated with their color and their behavior..good photos..

  5. I have to tell you that crows are one of my favorite birds. Around here they live in balance with the other wildlife… But during the winter, the crows and the hawks offer a sense that all IS in balance around here. Without them a lot of very undesirable things take over. Not only that but they are the must fun to watch in winter.

  6. I soo agree with you Mia…some people are so quick to place blame and then “aim” at species other than themselves when it comes to habitat destruction.

  7. Very nice post Mia. Nature is often harsh as it is all about survival, and I think it is unfair to dislike animals for doing what they must. I think the crow is singled out for it’s lack of cuteness, but I think a beautiful bird in it’s own right. Great capture of it’s detail.

    • Dan, I think crows might be singled out because of their lack of “cuteness” too and feel much the same as you because I think they are beautiful birds in their own right. Besides, they challenge me as a photographer to bring out the details in their dark plumage!

  8. Great post Mia! Deer and Elk also prey on bird nests: http://www.npwrc.usgs.gov/news/press/ontape.htm

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