Topics

Raven vs. crow in Goleta

Thomas Turner
 

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

Dave Compton
 

Thanks, Tom. Yes, this is definitely helpful. While ravens come to our coast a little more often a bit west of Goleta (such as along Farren Rd) and at the east end of the south coast in Carpinteria (mostly at Carpinteria Bluffs), you just about NEVER see them anywhere in between (or if you think you do, as Tom suggests, you might reconsider). eBird has a lot of records in Santa Barbara and Goleta that have gotten through only because one or two ravens do not trigger our filters. So these observations (most of which are probably wrong) have never been vetted by the eBird editors. (And I think this general situation applies to a lesser extent in Montecito, Summerland, and western Carpinteria.) To illustrate Tom's point as it applies in Santa Barbara, there are a lot of eBird reports for ravens at the Bird Refuge, NONE of them by people who I recognize as actively birding this location over many years. Are they all wrong? Maybe not. But it's clear the number of reports here suggest you have a way better chance of seeing a raven in that area than you really do. And the consequences of reports like these is to encourage more careless reports by people not considering the actual local distributions of these species.

As a general rule for Santa Barbara County distribution, I would say crows are way more common anywhere in the lowlands, both inland and near the ocean, except in the Cuyama Valley. Ravens do seem to be getting more common in parts of the north coast and the Santa Ynez Valley. But American Crow is just about always the more expected species until you get to a little higher elevation (such as along Figueroa Mtn Rd) or out to the Cuyama Valley. In the Cuyama Valley, we probably have a minor reverse version of the problem, where crows are reported in an area where ravens are the expected species.

As Tom as pointed out, there obviously is a lot of cleaning up to do of raven eBird reports in the county. But please help by rooting out any potentially dubious eBird reports of ravens you may have entered, and please remember that offhanded reports of ravens to eBird can contribute to a big eBird mess that others have to clean up.

Thanks for listening.

Dave Compton
Santa Barbara



On Mon, May 25, 2020 at 11:56 AM 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

Adam Searcy
 

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
Serpophaga@...

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

Dave Compton
 

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

Thomas Turner
 

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

Florence Sanchez
 

Just to add a quick note.  I bird Farren Road often.  Most of the time, the Ravens seen there are further up the road than the parking pullout at the top of the first hill as you come up from Calle Real and Rancho Embarcadero.

Occasionally, I have seen one or two go lower down from that first pullout but have never seen one of those cross the freeway or come close to it.

Otherwise, there is that apparent "no-Ravens' land" from Goleta to Summerland.  Within that stretch, they are very uncommon even near the foothills.  For example, at the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden we have received only a couple of records of individual Ravens from qualified observers over the 10-12 years that we have been keeping a regularly updated Garden bird list.  

Therefore I agree--within that no-Ravens' land any reports of Ravens should be subject to scrutiny.

Florence Sanchez




On Monday, May 25, 2020, 01:29:54 PM PDT, 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

John Callender
 

I'm enjoying this discussion a lot. If I can add a data point, I'd say it's worth making an exception for the western Carpinteria/Summerland/Montecito area. While it's true that American Crow is very much the likeliest of the species pair there, Common Ravens also occur in small numbers, at least over the last few years. I've had them numerous times at locations along Ortega Ridge (including the eBird hotspots for Ortega Ridge Pines and Greenwell Preserve, and the non-hotspot Hunt Drive hawkwatch site near the covered reservoir).

They're also pretty regular at Toro Canyon Park, as well as along the northern edge of the Carpinteria valley at places like Lake Jocelyn and Gobernador Canyon Road, though those places are all close to or in the foothills. And as previously stated, they're at the Carpinteria Bluffs pretty regularly.

A case could be made that the Ortega Ridge birds aren't occuring on the "coastal plain", since Ortega Ridge (along with Toro Ridge), interrupts that plain, dividing the flat areas to the west from the Carpinteria valley to the east. The ravens seem to view it that way, at least.

John Callender
Carpinteria

John Sterling
 

keep in mind though that Ravens are greatly expanding their distribution and population in many areas of the state and that your situation will likely change sooner than later


John Sterling
VVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVV

26 Palm Ave
Woodland, CA 95695

PO Box 1653
Woodland, CA 95776A

530 908-3836
jsterling@...
www.sterlingbirds.com

On May 25, 2020, at 1:53 PM, Florence Sanchez via groups.io <sanchezucsb11@...> wrote:

Just to add a quick note.  I bird Farren Road often.  Most of the time, the Ravens seen there are further up the road than the parking pullout at the top of the first hill as you come up from Calle Real and Rancho Embarcadero.

Occasionally, I have seen one or two go lower down from that first pullout but have never seen one of those cross the freeway or come close to it.

Otherwise, there is that apparent "no-Ravens' land" from Goleta to Summerland.  Within that stretch, they are very uncommon even near the foothills.  For example, at the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden we have received only a couple of records of individual Ravens from qualified observers over the 10-12 years that we have been keeping a regularly updated Garden bird list.  

Therefore I agree--within that no-Ravens' land any reports of Ravens should be subject to scrutiny.

Florence Sanchez




On Monday, May 25, 2020, 01:29:54 PM PDT, 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


Jamie Chavez
 

From the perspective of an eBird reviewer, with few exceptions, almost all raven entries are submitted to eBird without a word describing what was seen. While it might be best to get a documentary photo for a bird that is in an unexpected location this is not always possible. It is obvious that most of the records in the SB coastal plain are erroneous either because the observer is not skilled in identifying ravens from crows or they don't understand the status and distribution of this species locally. I have heard the point made that because ravens are common along the coast in many places in southern CA visitors to the area may not appreciate what they are seeing so they don't think about adding details. I would make the argument that they may not be identifying this species correctly in the first place based on the numerous incorrect entries locally by names we've never heard of. If a picture is worth a thousand words, in the absence of a picture please use words. This will leave little doubt to a reviewer or other eBirders who are interested in locating interesting observations using the maps. It goes a long way that an observer bothers to describe a large corvid that is shaped differently and flies differently than a crow.


On Mon, May 25, 2020 at 2:23 PM John Sterling <jsterling@...> wrote:
keep in mind though that Ravens are greatly expanding their distribution and population in many areas of the state and that your situation will likely change sooner than later


John Sterling
VVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVV

26 Palm Ave
Woodland, CA 95695

PO Box 1653
Woodland, CA 95776A

530 908-3836
jsterling@...
www.sterlingbirds.com

On May 25, 2020, at 1:53 PM, Florence Sanchez via groups.io <sanchezucsb11@...> wrote:

Just to add a quick note.  I bird Farren Road often.  Most of the time, the Ravens seen there are further up the road than the parking pullout at the top of the first hill as you come up from Calle Real and Rancho Embarcadero.

Occasionally, I have seen one or two go lower down from that first pullout but have never seen one of those cross the freeway or come close to it.

Otherwise, there is that apparent "no-Ravens' land" from Goleta to Summerland.  Within that stretch, they are very uncommon even near the foothills.  For example, at the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden we have received only a couple of records of individual Ravens from qualified observers over the 10-12 years that we have been keeping a regularly updated Garden bird list.  

Therefore I agree--within that no-Ravens' land any reports of Ravens should be subject to scrutiny.

Florence Sanchez




On Monday, May 25, 2020, 01:29:54 PM PDT, 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




--
Jamie Chavez
Santa Maria, CA

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Jamie Chavez
Santa Maria, CA