Thursday, September 9, 2010

Young Snowy Egret, and the Curious Behavior of Crows toward a Turkey Vulture

Snowy Egrets commonly breed along the Atlantic coast from Maine to the Gulf of Mexico and Central America. Post breeding, young individuals often disperse further inland, and one such rare visitor turned up this morning feeding along an overgrown island in the West River.

Great Egrets are common migrants here and one happened to be in the vicinity. This photo shows the difference in size.

Yesterday morning, walking along the same trail with the river on one side and a harvested corn field on the other, I saw  a flock of crows, which was feeding on the corn field, rise into the air with a great deal of agitated cawing to follow a large bird flying overhead. Soon the majority settled into a tree by the river, but several birds continued the pursuit until they all disappeared from view. Typical mobbing behavior, I thought, as I was trying to fire off a series of shots to catch the action. Looking at the photos at home however I discovered that the large bird was in fact a Turkey Vulture.

Crows usually don't feel threatened by TVs and don't waste their time chasing them off. So what made them go after the TV here? Young crows perhaps playing a game of pursuit? I tried to find something on Google but nothing turned up. So if one of my readers has insight into the behavior I'd love to hear it.
Thanks for stopping by. If you have time, please leave a comment.


  1. Hi Hilke - I'd be surmise that somehow the TV intruded on what the crows thought belonged to them. TVs are benign toward other birds as far as I know, but that doesn't mean they are impervious to a "perceived" threat. I have seen them harassed by red-wings and kingbirds, among others, just because they happened by. The crows are taking no chances!

  2. Interesting observation, Hilke, and fun photos of the crows in hot pursuit! I would love to stumble across a Snowy on the Little Miami one of these days! Lovely photos of the egrets.

  3. Interesting post and wonderful photos

  4. Thanks, Kelly and Dan, for your nice comments.

    Thanks, Chris, for clearing up the mystery for me. Your explanation makes sense.

  5. I'm sure Crows can tell a TV from a real threat but they seem to feel compelled to chase of large birds overhead. I've seen them chase Herons and Cranes as well.

    Nicely documented

  6. Here on the coast of Maine, I have seen this happen more than once. As I write, there is a seal carcass on the shoreline, visited by TVs. Crows think it's good eats, too and have chased the TVs around when the crows have been there first and then the TVs showed up.

  7. Thanks, Harold. Thanks,Robin. I am always learning something new.


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