I hope to see her tonight, and will pass on the request.  She is quite sure the 
smaller birds are crows, however, as she sees them regularly.  At least I'll 
get better information as to date/time/location.


From: bounce-125570098-3493...@list.cornell.edu 
<bounce-125570098-3493...@list.cornell.edu> on behalf of Dave Nutter 
Sent: Friday, April 23, 2021 8:53 AM
Subject: Re: [cayugabirds-l] large dark bird

What would help is to know the location & date to determine a basic list of 
what birds likely are in that area at that season.
Further information about habitat could also narrow down the likely species.

Then it would really help to get a copy of that video in front of another 
experienced birder to judge the shape of both kinds of birds, including bill & 
tail, and their relative size. It’s surprisingly easy to misjudge the size of 
birds at a distance, so the fact that there are 2 species in view together is 
your best help, and you must use shape, behavior, pattern & color to try to pin 
down one of them. There could be some subtle information in that video that 
would not be obvious everyone. Speed of walking is also a clue to size.

Assuming the video is from April in Northeastern US, and knowing the basics of 
what blackish birds feed in flocks on the ground and tolerate each other, we 
currently have lots of European Starlings and Common Grackles doing that. 
Brown-headed Cowbirds are another possibility. Red-winged Blackbirds are more 
territorial and single now but might also gather at a food source. American 
Crows are also territorial now but could be either single or in small family 
groups or again might gather at a large food source. Common Ravens are in some 
places, but typically are chased off by Crows. Turkey Vultures (or rarely Black 
Vultures) are also a possibility depending on the type of food put out, but 
might also be chased off by Crows.

It’s common for people unfamiliar with Grackles to call them Crows, either 
occasionally at a distance, or habitually. So, if you saw very long 
wedge-shaped tails, that’s an ID for one species. Or the very short tails of 
Starlings or the way they walk and probe, can help ID them. Even Crows and 
Ravens have slightly different shapes and behaviors. And eagles and vultures 
may also be distinguished by shape.

With all these unknowns and conjectures, I think a closer look at the video is 
what’s needed.

- - Dave Nutter

On Apr 22, 2021, at 1:31 PM, Peter Saracino 
<petersarac...@gmail.com<mailto:petersarac...@gmail.com>> wrote:

Ravens 24" long
Crows 17.5 " long

On Thu, Apr 22, 2021, 1:24 PM Sandra J. Kisner 
<s...@cornell.edu<mailto:s...@cornell.edu>> wrote:
I suggested raven to her, but it was an awful lot larger.  Is there that much 
difference between crows and ravens?


From: Donna Lee Scott <d...@cornell.edu<mailto:d...@cornell.edu>>
Sent: Thursday, April 22, 2021 12:45 PM
To: Sandra J. Kisner
Subject: Re: [cayugabirds-l] large dark bird

Ravens hang around where eagles are, but i am not sure crows would tolerate 
being next to them.
Kevin McGowan would know.

Donna Scott
Sent from my iPhone

On Apr 22, 2021, at 12:41 PM, Sandra J. Kisner 

By appearance the eagle seems more likely than a vulture (the neck was short), 
but would crows tolerate it?  I'll suggest it to her; I don't actually know 
where she lives, so I don't know if bald eagles are likely to be in the area.


From: Joshua Snodgrass 
Sent: Thursday, April 22, 2021 12:11 PM
To: Sandra J. Kisner
Subject: Re: [cayugabirds-l] large dark bird

Any chance it was a juvenile Bald Eagle? Young birds are very dark, but have 
white markings. It would be huge compared to crows.

On Thu, Apr 22, 2021, 10:19 AM Sandra J. Kisner 
I'm afraid I don't have much information to base my question on, but I promised 
I'd try.  A friend showed me a short video on her phone of a group of crows 
that she puts food out for near the end of her long (rural) driveway, with a 
large dark bird apparently feeding with them.  The shot is from far away; not 
knowing that I would have guessed it was a bunch of grackles being joined by a 
crow, but she assures me they are her usual crows.  The guest is rather stocky, 
with a short (broad?) tail.  The crows weren't in the least disturbed by the 
visitor, so it's not likely it was a hawk.  At one point she pointed out what 
looked like a white wing bar (very hard to see at that distance).  She also 
occasionally sees turkeys, but this didn't look like a turkey to me.  Any ideas?


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