Birdwatch

North American corvids lumped

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TWO familiar North American corvids have been found to represent only one species, following the publicatio­n of a new study.

Northweste­rn Crow, which has a range limited to the Pacific North-West of North America, in particular coastal areas, has long been considered a close cousin of the more familiar and widespread American Crow.

The two are widely recognised as being extremely similar in terms of both appearance and vocalisati­ons, with Northweste­rn often quoted as a slightly smaller bird with a deeper voice. Indeed, birders often rely more on geographic location than the birds’ features to identify them and, where the two taxa come into contact, many simply record the crows they see as ‘unidentifi­ed’.

It is no great surprise, then, that a recent study on the genetics of the two crows has prompted various taxonomic committees, including the American Ornitholog­ical

Society (AOS) and Internatio­nal Ornitholog­ical Congress (IOC), to conclude that they are actually one and the same species.

Following this recognitio­n, Northweste­rn Crow will be classified as a subspecies of American Crow on version 10.2 of the IOC’s World Bird List. ■

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