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cat herder

Large, nesting pair, central MS

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Hello bird people! I hope these photos are enough for an ID because it's driving me crazy. All the possible matches I've found aren't supposed to breed anywhere near here. Central Mississippi.

I noticed them around a week ago. There's a pair, and they are bringing food to the nest all during daylight hours.

CuxVU3S.jpg

KGqygMS.jpg

 

Here is a pic of the area without the zoom to give a sense of scale (nest circled in red). Whatever it is, it's BIG!

wSw24NJ.jpg

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The tree is about 1/4 mile away and well over 100 feet tall. Would you like to guess again? Unless you can direct me to a crow with a 4+ foot wingspan.

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1 hour ago, cat herder said:

The tree is about 1/4 mile away and well over 100 feet tall. Would you like to guess again? Unless you can direct me to a crow with a 4+ foot wingspan.

Well, believe it or not, an American Crow has a wingspan of about 40 inches. 🙂 

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Wow. Golden eagle? Do I need a second opinion? Isn't that... unusual in the extreme?

That was my guess but I ruled it out after Wikipedia claimed they don't breed in this part of the country. I thought I was losing my mind (though... still may be, just not over this).

I have an audio file of a bird I have never managed to witness, but I hear it almost every day, for a very long time (audio was recorded in 2014). Again, sounded like the only plausible match was golden eagle, but ruled it out for the same reasons as above. The bird making this call is present year round, in the wooded area in the middle of a residential city block.

mysterybird-8-20-14.mp3

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I didn't mean to imply that was a positive ID of Golden Eagle. The nest, site, and silhouette are compatible with the golden eagle. Being from central Mississippi I assume you know the size of a crow and this bird, in your opinion, is much larger than that – huge size is very apparent when seeing an eagle. The only other large black birds in the area are vultures and they nest on the ground. So, I'm assuming the very dark color is caused by the distance and the lighting.  I didn't realize they didn't nest in central Mississippi but I know I use to occasionally see them there back in the 60s and 70s at my grandparents farm. If you have seen the bird well enough to eliminate a red tail or other large Hawk,  my best guess would be Golden Eagle.

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Even if by some remote chance that they are Golden Eagles they wouldn't be nest building/breeding in Mississippi...they breed in Alaska and Canada.   🙂

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I've seen turkey vultures in this same area & similar distance, these are bigger than that.

Color is dark but not solid black, no distinguishing markings. I figured the shape of that tail in pic #2 would be distinctive enough on its own to get an immediate ID, I have searched and searched and can't find a match.

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Posted (edited)

Head shape and wing / tail / body proportions say crow to me.  The wings look too short, the body not thick enough.  Size is often deceiving for a single bird or at a distance.

The camera is picking the green on the underside of the branches.  I'd expect it to pick up any colors on the bird but all I see is black.  Often reflected sunlight can make a crow appear to have silvery or even white patches.

Edited by Charlie Spencer

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Posted (edited)

The tail appears to be wedge/diamond shaped, similar to a raven's.  But that is probably one of the out-of-range possibilities that were considered... not sure if Common Raven range extends to central MS.

Are they making any kind of vocalizations that you can pick up on?

Edited by Bee_ keeper
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Outermost rectrices are greatly spread in the photo giving wedge shaped appearance to tail.  on a raven there will be a wedge shape even when tail is not spread.  curious, out here on the west coast, after west nile crashed corvid populations,  the re-emergent crows, and especially ravens, appeared to me noticeably larger.  don't have any numbers, just an impression.  anything similar in MS?  nesting ravens in MS would probably be just about as unanticipated as nesting golden eagle.

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Well I am stumped. These are not crows. I understand the skepticism.

I have lived in this house since 1974. I have seen turkey vultures overhead, in trees both near and far, and on the ground in the yard next door. There are barred owls that come through from time to time (maybe once a month), when I hear them I go out and watch them go from tree to tree. I have seen the owls in that very tree where this nest is. I have even seen one of the owls in the daytime, in a tree in my own yard (so at a distance of less than 100'), being mobbed by hundreds of smaller birds who were making it known they were very unhappy with their visitor. There are crows and jays that land in the yard to steal food I put out for the neighborhood cats, I see them up close and as they fly away.

My size-estimating capabilities are fairly well calibrated to the area. These nesting birds are at least as big as the turkey vultures and clearly obviously bigger than the barred owls.

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There is an audio file attached to a post upthread in post #6. Again, disclaimer, I did not see the bird that made that call, and I have not heard anything I can attest was from the nesting mystery birds.

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I can get better photos if someone is willing to donate better equipment (not in my budget, sorry). :( The best I can do is point-and-shoot camera held up to the eyepiece of ancient Sears binoculars.

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Oddly, I have not heard that distinctive call since these birds have been at this nest. Normally I hear it multiple times every day, to the point that not hearing it stands out.

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When they leave the nest they don't do it gracefully at all. They sort of tumble out, drop a ways, and take a fair amount of time to get into level flight. Looks like about two wing beats per second when they're working hard.

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, cat herder said:

There is an audio file attached to a post upthread in post #6. Again, disclaimer, I did not see the bird that made that call, and I have not heard anything I can attest was from the nesting mystery birds.

I want to say your recording is of a Blue Jay.  Keep trying to record calls that come from that direction, though!

The bird in the photos sure does look like a large Corvid, and I think I would have called it a raven if I saw it here in the northeast.  But I suppose the tail shape could be the result of worn/growing feathers.  Your photos aren't bad.  Maybe you could try to get some more of the birds at different angles? 

Edited by The Bird Nuts

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Posted (edited)
10 minutes ago, The Bird Nuts said:

I want to say your recording is of a Blue Jay.  Keep trying to record calls that come from that direction, though!

The audio was recorded in 2014...altho OP states the sound is heard almost daily.  🙂

Edited by lonesome55dove

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9 minutes ago, hbvol50 said:

American Crow

Yeah, the more I look at it the more I think it's a crow.  It's definitely a Corvid and not a hawk, eagle, or vulture.

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Posted (edited)

In the first photo I see what I think is a large beak holding a stick, the eye is quite low and close to the beak and the side of the  head looks white with a black streak across the crown of the head?

 

Edited by Kerri

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Posted (edited)
18 minutes ago, Kerri said:

In the first photo I see what I think is a large beak holding a stick, the eye is quite low and close to the beak and the side of the  head looks white with a black streak across the crown of the head?

No, I'm quite sure it is facing more towards us and it's carrying something light-colored in its beak that is obscuring almost its entire face.

Edited by The Bird Nuts
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My impression is of a Raven, especially from the 2nd pic, but they usually aren't found that far south. I've seen Ravens in NC and VA in the last few weeks, so maybe their range is expanding?

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