Exploring the Seashore
in British Columbia, Washington, and Oregon

A mischievous band of all-black birds fills the air with loud nasal "caws": the familiar Northwestern Crow, Corvus caurinus, walks briskly among the debris at the high tide line. The Northwestern Crow appears to be an identical sub species of the slightly larger inland Common Crow, but the Northwestern Crow lives only along the coast, in the coniferous trees and in shrubs above the beaches. When the tide drops, they come down to the seashore in droves to clean the beaches of any edible items washed up by the sea, such as dead fish, crabs, and shellfish. They are active predators on sea urchins, whelks and other snails, and small fish such as blennies and sculpins. These crows also spend their time scavenging along with the gulls in garbage dumps and in farmers' fields for grasshoppers, grains, and fruits. They harass ducks and even gulls to make the regurgitate their catch, and feed heavily on the eggs of other shorebirds, a habit making them unpopular among song-bird lovers and intolerant sportsmen. Crows are one of the most intelligent of birds, wary, adaptive, and well able to survive in all conditions. Opportunistic and know as "black robbers". They are one of the most conspicuous and interesting birds at the seashore.

Tripping daintily among the rocks, and occasionally giving loud, flute-like calls to herald their arrival, a pair of Wandering Tattlers, Hetreoscelus incanus, busily search among the debris looking for food, continuously bobbing and teetering as they work along. Medium-sized shorebirds with yellow legs, their plumage a salty gray with intense black markings along the throat, breast, and flanks; in the fall, duller, with a loss of the intense black and gray markings. These vagabond birds travel alone or in groups of two or three, and range widely, turning up on the coral beaches of the South Seas one season, and the desolate cliffs of the Aleutian Islands the next. The Wandering Tattler is well named, the "tattling" probably originating from their habit of bobbing and teetering. Never very numerous, but they occur regularly along our rocky coast during the spring migration.

Northwestern Crow

Wandering Tattler
Preview Pages


table of contents
page 3

sample illustrated page, tidal zones
page 11

sample color page, sea urchins
page 33

text page, shore birds
page 59

text page, hermit crabs
page 78