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BOB'S BLOG Bird of the Month: Fish Crow

By Bob Wood
Blogs Photo
June 06, 2013 - 33 comments

PHOTO: Not your average crow. Fish Crow photo by Graham Wood

The Fish Crow is our bird of the month for June and it has a nostalgic connection which will interest some readers.
This bird is almost indistinguishable from the American Crow, which is, of course, quite common in southern Ontario.
The way to tell them apart is by the Fish Crow’s nasal call. According to the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology  these birds “have expanded their range inland and northward along major river systems in recent decades.”
They’ve been seen around the Toronto area over the last few years but now there is actually a nesting pair (the first ever in Ontario, I’m told) set up in southeast Burlington close to Lake Ontario on the Oakville/Burlington border.
Many readers will remember the historic Pig and Whistle Inn.  The Fish Crows are nesting just metres from “The Pig’s” former location.  I grew up quite close  but have no real memories of it until the last few years before its closure. My wife’s late great aunt, however,  used to share memories of Friday night trips from Toronto (Yonge and Eglinton) to enjoy the best fish and chips around.  
A popular watering hole and dancing spot for nearly 70 years, the Pig and Whistle was built in 1929 is designated as a structure of historic and architectural significance.  Now restored and preserved, the site has been renovated and is now known as the Hearthstone-by-the-Lake condominium community.

Bob Wood is a housing and poverty advocate and former two-term Burlington City Councillor who is building a bed-and-breakfast with his wife on Lake Erie. 


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June 7, 2013
The Editor said:

Here is sad news from the Ontario Field Ornithologists - the provincial birding organization ... One of the Fish Crows that was documented (Mourad Jabra) building a nest just west of Burloak Rd in east Burlington in early May was found dead in the park on 18 May. Cause of death appeared to be a head related injury. The bird was brought into the Royal Ontario Museum by Dr Kevin Seymour (ROM Palaeontologist) and was prepared as a study skin a few days later by Brad Millen (ROM Ornithology). The specimen was a female with enlarged ova but there were no collapsed follicles indicating that she had not yet laid any eggs. To ensure the species identification was correct, Dr Kevin Kerr (ROM Post Doc) agreed to genetically barcode a tissue sample from the specimen. The result...Fish Crow! Many thanks to all of the individuals, especially Cheryl Edgecombe, who assisted with this record and specimen collection.

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