Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
STATUS: Locally common; range is extending northward and into drier regions.
HABITAT: Inhabits low coastal areas, especially wooded marine shorelines, coastal marshes and beaches, brackish bays, fertile farmlands up to 100 miles from the coast, inland wetlands, and forests near rivers and lakes. Occasionally occurs in pine forests, orchards, old dry fields, and abandoned farmlands overgrown with natural grasses and pines.
NEST: Nests singly or in loose colonies of 2 to 4 pairs, each nesting in a separate tree. Builds nest near the tops of trees, especially pines, usually 10 to 90 feet, but up to 150 feet, above the ground; rarely in tall shrubs. Usually locates nest near water in a large fork or on a horizontal limb close to the trunk.
FOOD: Gathers food from the ground or trees, most commonly from tidal flats, beaches, rookeries, and riverbanks. Eats a diet that includes crabs, shrimps, and other crustaceans; stranded and dead fish; insects; eggs and young of birds; small reptiles; wild fruits; cultivated grains; seeds; and carrion.
REFERENCES: DeGraff et al. 1980, Goodwin 1976, Johnsgard 1979, Wilmore 1977.