Ha-ha… these Hooded Crow images just begged to tell a story – didn’t they? They amused me while the others were on the boat trip. It was fun discovering a new bird on holiday back in September. We first spotted it on moorland by the side of a single track road in the Waternish area of Skye, a few miles from our holiday cottage. I thought them quite eye catching and was eager to find out what they were.
Of course, crows being smart, they were the ones who were watching me when I put out a ground tray of bird food to the side of the front lawn at our holiday cottage! In recent years, I have packed a small bag of bird food when we’ve gone on UK cottage holidays as an experiment to see if birds would find it. It hasn’t exactly been successful but I am ever the optimist and always put out peanuts in the hope of red squirrels – no luck there yet :-(
To tempt birds to my small ground feeder on Skye, I tried throwing bread bits en route to the feeder with the theory that it would be more visible from above - especially with the contrast of colour on the grass. Of course, as you might expect, the hooded crows watched from their vantage spot on the powerlines and didn’t come down when I was gardenwatching from my holiday cottage window. So... no photos there.
Birds spotted around our holiday cottage included Goldfinches (first birds spotted/heard when we arrived), Chaffinches, House Sparrows, Dunnocks (shown on table above), Blackbird, Thrush, Robin, Great tit & Robin. Rabbits were seen under the picnic table, on the grass, paths, driveway and the single track road outside cottage late in the evening and early in the morning. No deer were heard in the hill/moor behind cottage – phew!
Coming back to the main stars of this blog post… the Hooded Crows… here’s some info I found on them...
The Hooded Crow Corvus cornix:
”Once thought to be the same species, the Hooded Crow replaces the Carrion Crow in north Scotland, the Isle of Man and Northern Ireland. In areas where the two species overlap, hybridisation can occur with individuals showing mixed plumage. Like Carrion Crows, Hooded Crows feed on carrion, invertebrates and grain, as well as stealing eggs from other birds' nests. They are more sociable than Carrion Crows, and may be seen feeding in groups. Breeding populations are joined by winter visitors from Scandinavia.”The Wildlife Trusts
”Hooded crows have a folkloric reputation as harbingers of danger. They are very closely related to the carrion crow and the two species sometimes interbreed. Hooded crows are opportunists, eating whatever is available - berries, shellfish, eggs, insects and carrion. They are very smart and have been seen to drop shells from a great height to smash them open, and to pull in fishing lines to steal the catch or the bait.”BBC Nature Wildlife
“The hooded crow, or 'hoodie' is now recognised as a different species to the carrion crow (Corvus corone). Both are around the same shape and size as a rook (Corvus frugilegus), but the hooded crow is easily identified by its two-colour plumage; the body is a dirty grey, while the wings, tail, head and bib are black. The calls are harsh and croaky, and include a 'kra-kra-kra', which may have given rise to the imitative name 'crow'.”ARKive
It’s been fun sharing Skye and the Hooded Crow with you all - there’s more to come on Skye another time too. Alas, this holiday seems even more miles away with the heavy garden works of late. All I’ll say on that, for now, is that I might have something to share for the Wild About Gardens Week 25-31 October. Can you guess what it might be? You'd like a clue? My back aches and I've been working in my garden with wellies on ;-)
This post was published by Shirley for shirls gardenwatch in October 2013.