Sunday, January 29, 2012

Cherry Red

A few tell-tale anatomical features of a young crow are well-displayed here: its blue eyes and pinkish-red inner mouth (called a gape by ornithologists). The angle of the sun and the crow's posture coincide to strikingly illuminate its cherry-red mouth.

Many bird species have a gape in the red-orange-pink-yellow range; the generally accepted explanation is that such bright coloration helps the parent bird more readily hit its target when arriving with food for its young. In other words, the brighter the gape, the greater a nestling's competitive advantage over its siblings.

In another pleasing coincidence, right across the street from this cherry-gaped crow were bunches of cherries, also enhanced by the sun.


  1. I had no idea about this--fascinating! & I have been seeing a lot of crows in this neighborhood, so I'll be thinking of this. Great shot & explanation.

  2. You probably won't start to see juvenile crows until June as they don't fledge until they're quite "old" (4-5 weeks, I think). And then they are the same size as their parents! The clues are slightly browner plumage, blue eyes, red mouth and horrific and incessant begging noises.