On Monday, August 13th, I had about given up finding anything new for the day at Quintana when a large corvid circled over me. It even made some low noises but I saw nasal bristles that appeared ot be less than half the bill length and the bird never landed to let me study it well. I knew it was either a odd molting American Crow (they occur less than 5 miles away but almost never on the immediate coast) or a wayward Chihuahuan Raven. I called Sue Heath and told her I just had a raven but later backed down thinking I did not have the goods to know it was a raven. Work had me in Atlanta for the rest of the week and I checked on Friday and Saturday with no luck.
Then today, I talked my good frined Charlie Brower into doing some birding. We got up on the tower and told him my crow/raven story. As I did, he asked “What is that?” It was the same bird – same molt pattern, white in the upper wing! It flew a short distance away and perched on a line. Then it started working palm trees. We raced over to where we had seen it last and it moved into the palms at the Quintana Breeze – now a rental cottage. It dropped down to the ground and began eating a bird. It was then we slowly realized it was Brazoria County’s first ever Chihuahuan Raven. I saw the white neck and long (but not as long as some of the species) nasal bristles. It also had a large bill for a crow. It called as it flew off further convincing us of the ID.
Soon after other local birders arrived including Sue Heath and Tad Finnell and also Michael Gray with his killer camera/lens setup. He and Cecilia Riley also saw it eating a young bird. It was also seen on the ground near the jetty, so it is likely eating a smorgasbord of young birds, bait and dead fish – a Raven’s delight! Here are some shots that Michael took of my Brazoria County Big Year bird #322.
Chihuahuan Raven photographs by Michael Gray.
NOTE: Michael has much higher res photos if desired.