Something to crow about? Ravens' smaller cousins becoming more common in Yellowknife

Bird enthusiasts suspect an increase in crow sightings in the city is due to an earlier-than-usual spring and warmer summer.

Bird enthusiasts suspect earlier-than-usual spring brought more crows north

Crows are related to ravens but can distinguished by their smaller size, their caw and their more fan-shaped tail compared to ravens, who have more wedge-shaped tails. (CBC)

Next time you want to blame a raven for a summer power outage in Yellowknife, be fair. It may have been a crow.

They're becoming more common these days in the city, says bird watcher Bob Bromley.

"They're in our yard, they're in the neighbourhood," he said.

"They're flying back and forth from Joliffe Island to Old Town. They're nesting in the Willow Flats area."

Crows are migratory and Bromley said he and other bird enthusiasts suspect the increase in sightings is due to an earlier-than-usual spring and warmer summer.

"It's just an accumulation of sightings and comparing that over the years. They're coming back much earlier and many more of them."

Bird watcher Bob Bromley says crows are becoming more common these days in Yellowknife. (CBC)

It's not strange, he added, given the changing climate. And crows are adventurous, just like their raven cousins.

"They're big travellers," he said.

"That's why the magpie, which is a close relative of the crow, also moved in here in the early 1980s and now people see magpies all over the place."

Mistaking a crow for a raven is easy to do as they're both large-sized black birds. But there are a few distinguishing characteristics.

Bromley said you can tell a crow by the sound of its caw and its smaller size — about two-thirds that of a raven.

"It's also got a relatively short, fan-shaped tail compared to the raven, which is wedge-shaped, so that's probably the best thing if you get a look at them flying."

Bromley says crows are also entertaining because they're smart.

"Especially when they're out looking for food, they can get up to some amazing antics and fool other animals and even people."