The Fish Crow (Corvus ossifragus) is a small, black bird that belongs to the family Corvidae. Adults measure about 14-16 inches (36-41 cm) in length and weigh between 6-11 ounces (170-310 g). They have a short, thick bill, and their wingspan ranges from 31-33 inches (79-84 cm). Fish Crows are very similar in appearance to American Crows, but their voice and behavior set them apart.
One of the distinguishing field marks of Fish Crows is their call, which is a nasal “caw.” They also have a shorter, more rounded tail than American Crows. In flight, their wings appear more pointed, and they have a quicker, more buoyant flight style. Their overall plumage is a glossy black, with a slight purple or green sheen in some light. Juvenile birds are duller with a brownish tint to their plumage.
Fish Crows are found in the southeastern and mid-Atlantic regions of the United States, with their range extending from southern New England to eastern Texas. Some birds in the northern parts of their range migrate south for the winter, while others are year-round residents. They are common in coastal areas, marshes, and wetlands, where they feed on a variety of food items, including fish, shellfish, insects, and carrion.
During the breeding season, Fish Crows build their nests in trees, usually near water, using sticks and twigs. Females lay 3-6 eggs, which are pale greenish-blue with brown markings. Both parents take turns incubating the eggs and feeding the young. The chicks fledge after about four weeks and are dependent on their parents for several weeks after leaving the nest.
Overall, Fish Crows are an interesting and unique species, known for their distinctive call and behavior. Although they are similar in appearance to American Crows, their shorter tail, more pointed wings, and quicker flight style set them apart. Their range is restricted to the southeastern and mid-Atlantic regions of the United States, and they are commonly found in coastal areas and wetlands. While some birds in the northern parts of their range migrate south for the winter, others are year-round residents.