Crows and Oystercatchers

This time of year is a good one to see Black Oystercatchers and Northwestern Crows down at the beach during low tides. Although they look very different in good viewing conditions, their similar size and color can make them hard to distinguish when viewed from a distance.

At moderate distance in good light it’s still not too difficult to see the different tone of the oystercatcher plumage compared to the darker black of the crows. Often heads are down, so it’s not always easy to see the orange bill, and the yellow eyes are not really distinguishable.

At even further distances, it gets more difficult to spot the orange bill, unless the angle is right. The difference in plumage tones is much less clear, and basically disappears if the light is poor. With some careful observation you can often tell them apart by differences in how they move, but getting accurate counts can be a little bit of a challenge without getting closer or having good binoculars or a scope.

Just for fun, how many crows and how many oystercatchers do you think are in each of the photos shown in this post?

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