[EXTERNAL] Re: [sbcobirding] Raven vs. crow in Goleta

Nick Lethaby <nlethaby@...>


While i agree that almost all these Goleta raven records are in error, this species is definitely on the rise. Although I did not ebird them, I had one fly over COPR this March and also heard one over Winchester Canyon this spring as well. These are my first ever locally.

It has now not become that unusual to see 1-2 along the 101 W of Goleta and along the 1to Lompoc, especially early on in the morning when both crows and ravens patrol the roads looking for carrion. However, American Crows remain far commoner.


On May 25, 2020 1:29 PM, Thomas Turner <habarimbu@...> wrote:
Good point Dave. I didn’t mean to overstate their abundance on the Gaviota Coast. The ravens I had over Refugio State Beach last week (which were calling) were the first I have ever had down that far. In my trips to Refugio, I have had ravens in:

1/57 (2%) of lists South of the 101
7/63 (11%) of lists in the first half mile of Refugio Road North of the freeway
10/42 (20%) of lists in the stretch of road between the 3rd creek crossing and where the switchbacks start

I think Farren Rd. is similar: there is a demarcation line on the hillside, with mostly crows at the ocean and mostly ravens in the hills.

On May 25, 2020, at 1:18 PM, Dave Compton <davcompton60@...> wrote:

Just one more comment here. Citing the most recent edition of Paul's book is always a good idea when trying to direct people away from being influenced by misimpressions from eBird. But while ravens may at one time have been "casual" on the coastal plain west of Goleta, I don't think that is accurate any more. Rare, or even uncommon, is probably now more accurate, now. Regardless, American Crow is still by far the expected Corvus sp. on the immediate coast from about Farren Rd west to Gaviota.

And of course in Santa Barbara and Goleta, the species is still casual on the coastal plain, given I've seen maybe two in many thousands of hours of birding here.

Dave Compton
Santa Barbara

On Mon, May 25, 2020 at 1:03 PM Adam Searcy <serpophaga@...> wrote:
Hi all,

I’m glad Tom brought this up as this coastal Santa Barbara Crow/raven issue was on my mind just a couple of days ago. There are many many Common Raven records in eBird on the coastal slope and almost all of them are probably misidentified American Crows. Identification of crow/raven (thankfully we only have one crow species locally) is known to be a very common error in eBird checklists.

Paul Lehman’s book lists Common Raven’s status on the coastal slope between Santa Barbara and Gaviota as “strictly casual over the coastal plain in this area” and that has certainly been my experience locally: I’ve not yet seen a Common Raven away from the mid-elevations of the Santa Ynez Mountains (where Lehman calls it “very uncommon”).

Looking at eBird there are many many Common Raven reports on coastal checklists. There are very very few that have accompanying photographs (some mentioned by Tom already). Anyone birding on the coastal slope who sees a Common Raven should try to document the sighting with photos and/or recordings of vocalizations. If you think Common Ravens are common on the coast—consider this a challenge to obtain good documentation so that Paul can update his book!

(Also a plug for those who venture into the Ventura County mountains/Lockwood Valley and submit eBird daya.  The opposite ID issue occurs there, where we receive many reports of American Crows—anything with photos has inevitably turned out to be a misidentified Common Raven—so the challenge is to be the first person to photograph a montane crow in Ventura County). 

Adam Searcy
Santa Barbara, CA

On May 25, 2020, at 11:56, Thomas Turner <habarimbu@...> wrote:

A quick note about ravens vs. crows: if you think you are seeing ravens around coastal Goleta / Isla Vista, then I think you are wrong. I know that sounds snarky, but I only mention it because 1) I know most of us are interested in improving our skills, and 2) because it would be nice to have fewer errors in eBird. 

I live near Devereux Slough, and have birded this area really often since 2015. Also, I bike commute from there to UCSB — or I did, when I could go to work — and I am always listening. I have never heard a raven here, nor had a good look at a corvid that I thought was a raven. I checked all the eBird records in this area: though there are scattered reports of ravens, almost none of them are from the most experienced birders. Mark Holmgren reports one from Devereux in 1990, and one from the Goleta Sanitary District Plant in 2015. Dave Compton and Glen Kinkaid each reported ravens once at Lake Los Carneros in 2016, but neither birder has reported any South of there. I don’t see any records from Devereux/UCSB/Coronado/Goleta Beach/etc. from other really experienced birders who bird there a lot, like Rebecca Coulter or Nick Lethaby. I think ravens almost never venture down to the coast in this area, which is interesting. It also means if you think you are seeing them here, you might want to brush-up on raven vs. crow. (I assume the same is true in Santa Barbara. I don’t see coastal records from really experienced birders there either, but personally I don’t know Santa Barbara as well as Goleta.)

In contrast, they regularly come down to the coast as you go farther West. They come down pretty low at Farren Road (though maybe not all the way to the freeway?). Just slightly farther West (El Cap, Refugio), they definitely come all the way to the ocean regularly. I had some over Refugio State Park just the other day. 

I hope that is helpful and not annoying!

Tom Turner

Isla Vista

Nick Lethaby
Goleta, CA