Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Fish Crows - Why I can't dislike them

Fish 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
Awhile ago on my own blog 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 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 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 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.



  1. I like your reflexion
    I think that people don't like crows because they are black and because they eat trash.
    But, nature needs them for clean the trash.

    Greetings from Spain

  2. I guess he's glad he's got a great shell

  3. I would not be able to dislike the Fish Crow, or any Crow for that matter either...just spelndid in most respects. Your images are wonderful~

  4. Until today, I didn't know there was such a bird so thank you. I am with you Mia on the negative impact of human spread. The riparian areas around the world are being affected by people developing dams, etc. endangering cranes, shorebirds, and even native people's. Wonderful post.

  5. Right there with you Mia. So often in humanity we dislike those characteristics that are inherent in ourselves. I think it is the competitor in us, maybe. I have thought a lot about it though. Anyone who has studied corvids, or knows a bit about them, would probably then find it hard to dislike them. Great post!

  6. Great Blue Herons and Bald Eagles are the "too big to fail" members of the birding community.

  7. I think the final two paragraphs in this post says it all. Great post, Mia!

  8. Crows are one of the most intelligent species on earth, and eating meat such as carrion, fledgling birds etc probably contributes to their brain growth. At least they don't torture their prey as we do in, for example, factory farming. Nice post, Mia!