Hey Bird Guy! I live in the Shearwater neighborhood of Fishhawk. I can’t find Fish Hawk in my bird book. I can find one called Fish Crow. What gives?  K.Y.

 

Great question K. My definition of a great question is one I know the answer to. In the early 1940s scientists learned a lot about the Fish Hawk. The biggest thing they learned is that the bird wasn’t actually a hawk. Nor was it an eagle. It was a family all on its own. So they renamed it Osprey. The old name wasn’t that far reaching since the birds do eat predominantly fish and they do look a lot like hawks.

 

So you live in Shearwater, eh? Did you know there are at least 14 different species of shearwaters which can be found in the waters surrounding this country? Neither did I. Shearwaters are pelagic birds, meaning they spend most of their lives at sea. They only go to land to nest. You can see three of these species if you take a boat out far enough into the gulf. Here’s a fun fact. Shearwaters have a tube-shaped nostril on the top of their bills. So if people are coming to visit, you can tell them you live in the Tubenose neighborhood. That will show them your mad knowledge, and also likely will make those pesky visitors change their minds about wanting to visit.

 

The Fish Crow is the most common crow in our area, but we do sometimes see and hear the American Crow too. The only way to tell them apart is by voice. The Fish Crow has a nasally two note call sounding like “Oh-oh”. The American Crow makes the classic “Caw” sound

 

Okay, back to the hawks. Along with the Fish Hawk, several other hawks were also booted out of the hawk clan. The Pigeon Hawk has been renamed Merlin, the Sparrow Hawk is now called the Kestrel and the Marsh Hawk is now known as the Northern Harrier.

 

The question you are bound to ask is, why change? It has to do with scientists being better at their jobs than they used to be. They now can separate the Kestrel and Merlin into the falcon group and the Harrier is in the group called Harriers. Clever. I’m sure it makes perfect sense to them. I secretly think the people in charge of naming birds change the names because they need something to do. They are lonely. Renaming birds gives other people reason to talk to them, asking why?