Birds of Seabrook Island

COAST BIRDS
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WORLD BIRDS
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ANECDOTES

  American Crow
 
 

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  Order Passeriformes
   Suborder Passeres - Oscines (Song Birds)
      Parvorder Corvida (Superfamily Corvoidea)
            Family Corvidae - Crows and Jays
  Passerines are generally smaller than non-passerines. They have a perching foot with three toes directed forward and the one backward with locking tendons to facilitate perching when their tendons are flexed. All passerines scratch by bringing the foot over the wing. Incubation ranges from 11 -21 days. Young hatch blind with little or no down and spend 10-15 days or so in the nest - development is rapid and parents provide care beyond fledging.
Oscines are passerines with complex syringeal musculature used to produce varied vocalizations. 
Corvida (Corvoidea) includes a group of older endemics originating in Australia and New Guinea.
Corvids are intelligent, social birds. They are larger passerines found in woodlands and open areas. Adults are noisy and aggressive with distinctive calls.
Crows and Ravens  (Corvus). Intelligent birds, they are adaptable to human modifications to the habitat. These are mostly black birds and most are fairly large (the Common Raven is the largest passerine bird). They are widespread, including some mid-ocean islands, but they are absent from South America.
     
     
  American Crow, Corvus brachyrhynchos
 
      Cornell     USGS     Wiki     EoL
        YEAR ROUND - Common, breeds / Common
            OPEN FOREST AND WOODLAND (nesting); OPEN AREAS (foraging )
                 (increasing in urban areas)
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   The American Crow (or just "crow") is a large, all-black bird with a stout bill and broad wings. Its tail is relatively short and rounded. It forages mainly on the ground and eats anything.
   Note the similarity of this species to the Fish Crow. On Seabrook you really have to hear the bird "talk" to be sure of the species. However, the crows seen on the beach are American Crows.
American Crow
     
American Crow. Privateer Creek Road
   
  RANGE: The American Crow breeds from Newfoundland west to Hudson Bay, southern areas of the Northwest Territories, and the Pacific coast south to southern California, east (avoiding desert areas) to central Texas and the Gulf coast, Florida, and the Atlantic coast north. In winter, it withdraws from much of its Canadian range but remains within the US.
   Crows show some geographic variation with larger birds breeding farther north. In central Pennsylvania they formed a recognizable group contrasting with local birds. In my early days of teaching ornithology, we used these crows for studying bird anatomy. They offered a real advantage over purchased specimens because students got to see the tissues in their natural color and texture before they were fixed. Their size and generalized structure also offered advantages over commercially available specimens.
  BREEDING: Monogamous. One brood (2 in the south). Both parents help construct a large, bulky, basket nest in a tree or shrub. They use branches, twigs and bark and line it with moss, grass, leaves, feathers, hair, or other material. The female lays 4-6 (3-9) eggs which both sexes incubate for 18 days. The male feeds the female at the nest during incubation. Young are altricial and leave the nest after 28-35 days. Both parents care for the young. They occasionally breed cooperatively with helpers (young from a previous brood).
   Way back when, we salvaged a nestling crow and hand-reared it. Its favorite perch was on the top of a back seat in a VW Minivan from which it toured the country. When it was about 6 weeks old, it decided it had had enough and joined the wild population in the area.
  DIET: Omnivorous. Crows eat insects, other invertebrates, carrion, bird eggs and young, seeds (corn especially) and fruit and nuts. They eject pellets of undigested residue. Like gulls, they may break mollusk shells by dropping them on rocks or hard surfaces. They scavenge along roads and at dumps.
  VOICE: What else but "caw caw," loud and raucous. They also utter a loud, rapid, hollow rattle that gets your attention. I have spent some frustrating hours trying to verify in my own mind that this call comes from a crow, not a hawk or other unknown bird (its not included on the recordings I've listened to).
   This the summer of 2006 we visited the Pacific Northwest and spent some time on the Olympic Peninsula and at Ocean Shores. There, the common corvid is the Northwestern Crow, Corvus caurinus. Its calls are lower, hoarser, and more rapid than the calls of the American Crow and appeared to be variable - less nasal than the Fish Crow and less resonant than the raven - just different.
  NOTES:
   Checklists -
      Seabrook (breeds). Kiawah - common year round (breeds). Edisto - resident.
      Coastal - common permanent resident. Hilton Head - common permanent resident. Cape Romain - common year-round, breeds.
         Huntington Beach - common March; uncommon April - February.
      Caw Caw - common year-round. ACE - accidental year-round, breeds.
   CBC: ACE 440, 331, 1123, 254, 621, 298, 708, 141; Charleston 384, 147, 66, 91, 111, 350, 284, 327;
            St Helena/Fripp x, x, x, x, x, x, 167, 254; Hilton Head 776, 784, 587, 916, 759, 967, 1042, 1530;
               Sun City/Okatie 488, 366, 379, 507, 428, 520, 435, 280;
            McClellanville 65, 17, 37, 68, nc, 42, 68, 132; Winyah Bay x, x, 3, 21, 29, 14, 18, 15;
               Litchfield/Pawleys 151, 114, 215, 128, 113, 154, 215, 296.
   SCBBA: Nesting in all coastal counties.
   P&G:
Common resident. More in winter. Egg dates: 5 March - 23 April.
   Avendex: No reports.
   Potter: Common and conspicuous at all seasons. They inhabit a variety of fields and open habitats but nest and roost in rather dense woods. Our winter crow roosts include migrants.
  ●  American Crows are ubiquitous on Seabrook - anywhere, anytime. They are also likely to be seen on the beach (Fish Crows are not). They are also common in the maritime forest areas and along our roads.
       
    Banner - American Crow on North Beach.
       
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