Hi all, 
Sandra’s friend sent me the video clip from an evening this week in Newfield. 
The view is very distant, so I studied through a magnifying glass (binoculars 
turned backwards), but it’s good enough that I easily agree with the ID that 
the few “small” birds, some of whom flew a bit, are Crows. The larger dark bird 
is neither a Corvid, nor a Turkey, nor any of the usual raptors which use long 
legs and talons to reach out and grab prey at a safe distance or even chase it 
a bit. It walked with small steps, pecked at the ground in one spot, and did 
not fly. This bird has a fairly long tail which it holds parallel to the 
ground, a long slim body which tapers gradually to what appears to me to be a 
tiny head, and rather short legs. It walks like it’s not very good at it and 
doesn’t have to be. The size, shape, and behavior, including the posture at 
several points, lead me to believe it’s a Turkey Vulture, even though I was not 
able to be certain of a naked or red head. I’m guessing there was some meat in 
what was left out for the Crows. 

FWIW, a lot of Turkey Vultures gather not too far away in the evenings Near 
Robert Treman State Park.

- - Dave Nutter

> On Apr 23, 2021, at 8:53 AM, Dave Nutter <nutter.d...@me.com> wrote:
> 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> wrote:
>> Sibley:
>> Ravens 24" long
>> Crows 17.5 " long
>>> On Thu, Apr 22, 2021, 1:24 PM Sandra J. Kisner <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?
>>> Sandra
>>> ________________________________________
>>> From: Donna Lee Scott <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
>>> Lansing
>>> Sent from my iPhone
>>> On Apr 22, 2021, at 12:41 PM, Sandra J. Kisner 
>>> <s...@cornell.edu<mailto:s...@cornell.edu>> wrote:
>>> 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.
>>> Sandra
>>> ________________________________________
>>> From: Joshua Snodgrass <cedarsh...@gmail.com<mailto:cedarsh...@gmail.com>>
>>> 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 
>>> <s...@cornell.edu<mailto:s...@cornell.edu><mailto:s...@cornell.edu>> wrote:
>>> 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?
>>> Sandra
>>> --


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