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Carrion Crow Catching Fish

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Old Thursday 1st April 2004, 16:03   #1
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Carrion Crow Catching Fish

Dear all,
I was at Bough Beech Reservoir in Kent on 31st March when my attention wandered to a Carrion Crow perched in a willow one metre above the water on the North Lake. Its attention was quite clearly taken up with what I thought would be an object floating on the water. However, to my surprise, it suddenly dropped into the water belly-first, grabbed a small silvery fish a few centimetres long and returned to the willow branch with its catch flapping in its bill. The fish was swallowed in one gulp. The Carrion Crow moved away from the branch was lost from view.

I wondered whether this was an example of this bird being an opportunist or had it adopted this tactic for obtaining food at the reservoir?

Is this sighting unusual or has anyone else seen a member of the crow family catch a fish like this?
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Old Thursday 1st April 2004, 16:04   #2
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I've had a crow take a goldfish from my fishpond. I have a bigger net in place now.
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Old Thursday 1st April 2004, 17:34   #3
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I once saw a Carrion Crow snatch a fish from the surface of a canal with its feet, a la fish-eagle. I couldn't say if the fish was alive or dead before it was taken.
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Old Thursday 1st April 2004, 18:29   #4
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The Fish crow of North America, Corvus caurinus has been seen on several occasions to snatch fish from the water with either feet or bill. Being a group of versatile feeders, the genus corvus will probably always throw up individuals like this opportunist.
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Old Friday 2nd April 2004, 09:35   #5
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When I worked on a fishing boat on the river Elbe in Germany I have seen Carrion crows taking injured fish (that had escaped from the net we were hauling in) up to 20 cm long.
Allthough the fishes were quite heavy sometimes, the crows always caught them with the beak; like the Blackheaded gulls that were also present. When taking fishes from below the water surface , the flying crows legs and often also the belly were in the water.
Sometimes it was really difficult for them to get up into the air again. But they never used the claws to catch the fish from the water although sometimes in the air a fish was handled over from the beak into the claws.

It seemed to me that they had learned this behaviour from observing the gulls (as those cannot use claws, the crows may just have copied their technique); allthough the Crows looked much more clumsy during this action they were as efficient as the blackheaded gulls with bigger fish; (with smaller fish up to about 10-15cm the gulls were more efficient, as they swallowed these at once, whereas the crows had to get to the shore with every fish)
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Old Friday 2nd April 2004, 18:27   #6
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Thats a very interesting observation Jrn.
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