Endangered Mariana Crow

“It’s an hour before dawn and our group is stumbling uphill toward our blinds. I’m carrying a small cat container that holds our captive Mariana Crow, Latte, and shredding my boots on the sharp limestone. Latte was once the breeding female in the territory adjacent to where we’re trapping, but she lost a wing during a fierce tropical storm. She was rescued by Sarah Faegre, the crow research field team leader from the University of Washington, who is as devoted and protective a mother as a bird could possibly have. Latte is amazingly calm for a wild bird; she was quite willing to take a katydid out of my hand on the first day we met.”

That is how the story begins as told by Kevin McGowan, Cornell University mentor and Corvid Champion. The post details his work with endangered Mariana Crows in the South Pacific a few weeks ago. He was helping out in a study led by researchers from the University of Washington, in an attempt to understand why this unique species is declining.

“Mariana Crows, like many southeast-Asian crows, forage in the forest canopy. Their behavior reminds me more of oropendolas than of “typical” crows of North America, Europe, Africa, and Australia, which forage on open ground. One proposed explanation for why crows never penetrated the Neotropical forests is that toucans and oropendolas were already occupying the role of big, canopy-dwelling, omnivorous bird.”

Read Kevin’s report here