Monday, November 2, 2015

MA - an interesting Raven

So I was driving south on Main Road, Gill on a mission to get eggs for breakfast. It was a quiet Sunday morning and daylight savings had just come into effect, so Gill seemed even sleepier than usual. Above the Lily's Farm, just up the road from the Gill Tavern, a soaring bird caught my eye and struck me as unusual in several respects. Although I recognized it as a 'corvid', the bird didn't register as either of the two most likely options - American Crow and Common Raven. The former is the most expected, but the latter can be found in Gill with a bit of effort and vigilance. This corvid looked liked it had the jizz of something that might fall between the two, especially while soaring. While soaring the tail was fanned and the wings seemed quite broad at the body producing an odd silhouette for either of the expected species. By the time I'd pulled over and got the camera ready, the bird was already in a glide over the road and heading west. I fired as many shots as I could before it disappeared west over the tree line.

The bird threw me off balance for several reasons as it looked Raven-like but the tail shape was far from wedge-shaped, and overall it looked small and puny for that species. Although pretty lousy, and taken against complete cloud cover in dull early morning light, the photos also emphasized what I'd seen overhead. Overall, the bird recalled a Chihuahuan Raven a species that I've seen hundreds of times on trips to Texas and Arizona but as far as I'm aware there's no precedent for vagrancy in that species, especially to the north-east.

Naturally, the easy option would be to pass it off as an odd looking Common Raven. On the other hand, the remnants of Hurricane Patricia passed through New England late last week, so how about a disorientated Chihuahuan Raven showing up and trying to work its way back to the south-west? Of course, it's stretch to think about such things, and "remarkable claims require remarkable evidence", but then again, who looks at Ravens?

unidentified raven - Main Road, Gill, Franklin Co., MA. November 2nd, 2015.


Larry said...

An interesting bird to be sure...certainly a species that could be easily overlooked.

James P. Smith said...

Thanks Larry. Yes, I thought it was interesting enough to post. I'll be in Chihuahuan Raven country for the next weeks in November so hopefully I'll come back with some interesting shots and perhaps an update on my thoughts on this bird. Curiously, I haven't seen any Ravens around that spot in Gill since.