Monday, November 17, 2014

American Crow

I think of crows as being black. I took this photo at the University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum on 8 November 2014. After developing the image, I was surprised to find the crow to be a combination of violet and, especially on the outer primaries, bluish-green. The back looked scaly. What a beautiful bird!

Verbeek and Caffrey (2002) describe crows’ Basic Plumage exactly as my bird appears. Juvenal birds are dark gray and very young birds have bluish eyes. Towards the middle of summer, they replace all their feathers and enter into Basic Plumage. Apparently, unlike many other passerines, they lack an Alternate Plumage (formerly known as a Breeding Plumage—they breed, instead, in their Basic Plumage). These authors explain that the scaly look is due to non-interlocking distal ends of the back feathers.

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