Bird #213 — Fish Crow

corvus (raven) ossifragus (bone-breaking)

Saturday, September 19, 1981 — 9:00 am

Holla Bend National Wildlife Refuge, Arkansas

I don’t like it when the only clue to the identity of a bird is voice.  I guess I have more faith in my eyes than in my ears.  I like to see things.  With this bird, I had no choice.

This was my first visit to Holla Bend National Wildlife Refuge.  It’s not a terribly picturesque place.  The entire refuge sits on what used to be a peninsula surrounded by a loop of the Arkansas River.  The main river channel was straightened and now cuts across the base of the loop.  The area is flat flood plain covered with fields and scruffy woods.  The old river channel is now a series of muddy sloughs and lakes.

On this visit, I was specifically looking for Fish Crows. I was seeing crows everywhere, but they weren’t making any noise.  I finally spotted one in the trees on the south side of the old channel slough.  It was calling in a short, nasal-sounding “ca” without the hoarseness of the American Crows that were calling nearby.  I also heard it giving a two-syllable “ca-ah.”  Both calls carried pretty far.

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