Do you really know that Crow?

I have been studying the local crow families now for about 3 years.   If it was any other species at this point, I would be able to identify individuals in the groups.   But in the crow world that isn’t as easy as it seems.   They are all black, have black beaks, black legs and black eyes.   There is even a test on the web that makes this point by talking about how they can recognize us but we can’t them.  Check out this article from NPR by Robert Krulwich.   See how you fare.   This Crow Stalker was a dismal failure.  I even got worse, with my last score zero.

http://www.npr.org/blogs/krulwich/2009/07/27/106826971/the-crow-paradox

This week I read a great story about a researcher who has been studying and researching Crows since the late 80s.   He bands them while they are in the nest with very visible wing bands.   That gives him the edge to understand their family dynamics and who is who in his crow territories.     Here is the link to Kevin McGowan’s Crow Study.

http://www.birds.cornell.edu/crows/cstudyoverv.htm

I got to thinking how could I get to this detail with my limited resources?  The only way I know of is with photos & so today I started by taking zoomed photos of the 5 groups I encounter each weekend.  Over time I hope through behaviour, size and any other characteristics I will be able to tell them apart.

So, I came back to the house with my photos and compared what I had.  Right off I found that the better the light and zoom the more details I will capture.   Here is an example of what I mean.

Can you tell if this is the same crow?   I’m not too sure & now I realize after reviewing my pictures I can’t tell which photos are of the same crow even though they were taken in sequence.   This will require a notebook and documentation as I go.

I will be combining this crow identification with my baby crow chasing.  The families reduce the size of their territories which should help with my research.  More to come next week.  Wish me luck.

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