Okefenokee Fish Crow

Some may wonder why I have made so many trips to the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge. I’m in love. That’s the simple answer. I’m in love with this great Swamp; in love with prairie landscapes, in love with the Cypress forests, in love with the jungle of vegetation, in love with the reptiles (even the dangerous ones!), and in love with the solitude of wilderness. As a conservation photographer, it is my goal to document the habitats and inhabitants in this place that I love so much.

Fish Crow perched on a pole at the Suwannee Canal boat launch in the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia. March 10, 2022 ©www.williamwisephoto.com

In March of 2022 my daughter and I made a three-day, two-night paddle from the Suwannee Canal entrance, to the Round Top shelter, to Floyd’s Island and back. All along the way I tried to photograph as many of the Okefenokee’s inhabitants as possible. It is always my desire to photograph a species that I haven’t yet documented. And things started off well on this particular trip with the awkward call and photograph of a Fish Crow.

The fish crow (Corvus ossifragus) is a species of crow found in the wetlands of the southeastern United States. Before I became a birder, I didn’t even realize there were different species of crows. I just thought every black bird was a “crow”. Just like the American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos) the Fish Crow is a heavy-billed, large black bird. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology states that the best way to distinguish the two species is by their call. “American Crows give full-throated “caw” notes in pairs, while Fish Crows are more nasal sounding, often giving short notes in pairs” (www.allaboutbirds.org). Most birders describe the Fish Crow’s call as the negative exclamation “nuh uh”.

Although I don’t think I can distinguish them 100%, I have American Crows around my house all year round. When the groups of Fish Crows show up, I can hear the difference in their calls. And this black beauty that sounded off during our launch in the Okefenokee sounded just like that stereotypical Fish Crow. So I was happy to get a photo of what many would say was “just another crow”, and add the Fish Crow to my Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge checklist.

Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia. Three-day paddling trip from Suwannee Canal to Round Top to Floyd’s Island.
– March 10, 2022.
– Cloudy with occasional light rain, high near 75, low around 63.
– Sunrise 6:43 am; sunset 6:32 pm
– Day length: 11 hours, 48 minutes (+1m 52s)
– First quarter moon
– iNaturalist observation: ​https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/109305789

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