Pied Crow (Corvus albus) at Fnideq, northern Morocco

By | 26 March 2015

A Pied Crow (Corvus albus) was seen today, 26 March 2015, at the rubbish dump of Fnideq, northern Morocco. The bird was among a large number of Northern Ravens (Corvus corax) and Yellow-legged Gulls (Larus michahellis).

In the Western Palearctic, the species has bred at Chtoukan, about 169 km north of Dakhla, in southern Morocco in spring 2010 (Batty 2010). It was also observed near the Mediterranean coast of other places in Northwest Africa, like the long-staying pair near Tripoli, Libya (Libyan Society for Birds, 2013), and at Ceuta, just a few Km to the east of Fnideq. While it could be ship-assisted, but since our bird is still in mainland Africa, it could also be a genuine vagrant.

It should be noted that the bahaviour of the bird we saw was perfectly wild. The bird was very shy as it’s the first to fly when we get too close. It was also the first bird to fly when disturbed by the strong wind. So a recent escape or arrival from sea via ships should be discarded. The bird could be one of the birds seen at Ceuta during that last few years, but we really can’t know for sure.

The Pied Crow has been observed in southern Europe several times during the last years, but the species is generally treated there as a ship-assisted. Comments welcome!

References:

Batty, C. 2010. Pied Crows in Western Sahara, Morocco. Dutch Birding 32: 329.

Libyan Society for Birds, 2013. Pied Crow (Corvus albus) at Tajura near Tripoli, western Libya.

Update 1 (comments):

We received the comments below about the Pied Crows in the region:

José Navarrete Pérez (SEO Ceuta) commented by email:

Possibly the same bird that we see in Ceuta since April 2012. In May 2012, two were seen together attempting to nest. Since then we see one bird but it’s very restless, moving from one end of the city to the other, and remains little time in the same place.

Joaquín López Rodríguez added that the Pied Crow was still at Ceuta in December 2013 and again in April 2014 when he posted about it in his blog ‘Gaviotas y Pardelas.

Javi Elorriaga commented:

There is a long-staying individual regularly seen in Ceuta. This might be the same individual. Indeed, the bird in Ceuta and the one in Tarifa where observed in similar periods, and all the records could involve the same individual who likes our area.

Patrick Bergier gave more details about previous records of the species to the North African region (see the comments section below).

Gonçalo Elias commented about two recent records of Pied Crows in Portugal (see the comments section below).

It’s more likely that a few Pied Crows (2 or more??) are present in the area and are moving around between northern Morocco and southern Iberia and as far away as Porto in northern Portugal. However, it’s difficult to confirm this without individually marking these birds by colour rings for example.

Update 2 (subsequent observations):

– Rachid photographed a Pied Crow at the town of Fnideq on 10 October 2015 (photo 4). It was most likely the same individual we saw last March.

– On 2 April 2017, we passed through the landfill and saw the Pied Crow again. It’s now just over two years since we first saw the bird at this site.

Rachid El Khamlichi & Mohamed Amezian
(all photos by Rachid).

Pied Crow / Corbeau pie (Corvus albus), Fnideq, northern Morocco, 26 March 2015.

Pied Crow / Corbeau pie (Corvus albus), Fnideq, northern Morocco, 26 March 2015.

Pied Crow / Corbeau pie (Corvus albus), Fnideq, northern Morocco, 26 March 2015.

Pied Crow / Corbeau pie (Corvus albus), Fnideq, northern Morocco, 26 March 2015.

Corvus albus, Corvus corax and Larus michahellis, Fnideq, near the Strait of Gibraltar

Corvus albus, Corvus corax and Larus michahellis, Fnideq, near the Strait of Gibraltar

Pied Crow / Corbeau pie (Corvus albus), Fnideq, northern Morocco, 10 October 2015.

Pied Crow / Corbeau pie (Corvus albus), Fnideq, northern Morocco, 10 Oct. 2015.

6 thoughts on “Pied Crow (Corvus albus) at Fnideq, northern Morocco

  1. P. Bergier, Go-South

    Superbe observation.

    Un à trois oiseaux ont séjourné au Café Chtoukane de mi-décembre 2009 à fin avril 2011 au moins (Batty 2010, J. Franchimont in NNSAM4). La reproduction s’est déroulée avec succès en 2010 : un nid occupé sur un pylône radio au nord du village fin avril et un gros jeune volant début juillet (NNSAM3). Une tentative de reproduction a eu lieu l’année suivante (couple près du nid le 6 avril – P. Castell et al. in NNSAM4).

    Il y a quelques mentions en Algérie et en Libye (Snow & Perrins 1998), et une à Ceuta du 27 janvier au 10 février 2009 (oiseau peu farouche, probablement introduit – Navarrete Perez 2010, mais voir commentaire de ‪Joaquín López Rodríguez dans Facebook : ‘Es posible que sea el mismo que vemos en Ceuta desde hace un par de años’).

    Un oiseau a été observé posé sur un bateau de pêche en haute mer entre les îles Canaries et le continent à 122 milles nautiques du Cap Barbas en novembre 2002, et il y a quelques autres données non homologuées pour les îles Canaries (Martínez & Barone 2006).

    Reply
  2. Ben Macdonald

    Hi there, thank you very much for reporting this superb species. I will be visiting Morocco in May, with others, and it would be fantastic if there were updates on this species as and when, if that's possible.
    Best wishes, Ben

    Reply
  3. Gonçalo Elias

    Hello,
    There have been two recent records of Pied Crows in Portugal, presumably involving different birds, as the locations are more than 300 km apart: one near Porto in late April and another one at Cape Espichel, Sesimbra, in late June.
    The origin of these birds is unknown.
    The bird at Porto: http://bit.ly/2ciamtU (facebook)
    The bird at Cape Espichel: http://aves.team-forum.net/t19065-id-corvideo

    Best wishes,
    Gonçalo Elias (Portugal)
    http://www.avesdeportugal.info

    Reply
  4. magornitho Post author

    Thanks Gonçalo for your comment and sorry for the long delay to respond.
    Given that there are many records of Pied Crows in both shores of the Strait of Gibraltar as well as in Portugal since a few years, I think that that there are at least a few birds (at least 2, probably more) moving between these areas. In May 2012, there was a nesting attempt at Ceuta, so I think they could try to nest again once there are a female and male together. However, we can't confirm how many birds are there without individually marking them.

    Best regards,
    Mohamed

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *