Crow Information & Photos
Species Research and Information provided by: Avian Contributor: Jeannine Miesle ... Additional information added by Avianweb
Crows (genus Corvus) can be found on every continent except South America and even on some of the oceanic islands, such as Hawaii.
In North America, the term “Crow” refers to the American Crow. They do not migrate.
There are 102 living species of crow.
Crows measure from 8 to 28 inches and are the largest of the passerines (perching birds).
Corvus species are all black or black with some white or grey plumage. Some species have head crests.
Their wings are long and pointed, and their tails are much shorter than their wings.
They are stout with strong bills and legs.
The sexes differ little in appearance.
They form tight, social colonies, calling to each during emergencies and at flock roosting times at night.
Bold, inquisitive, gregarious and highly adaptable, crows are easily seen and heard, with voices that are loud and harsh.
Originally from Asia, a grouping of crows has an unusual title: a “murder.” This term comes from the crow’s propensity to kill one of its own if it is near death. They are an aggressive bird, using their hooked beaks to tear meat.
They are omnivorous scavengers, eating almost anything they can swallow. They have been known to eat insects, mollusks, seeds, fruit, nuts, animal carrion, mice, eggs, fish, as well as domestic substances such as rubber and plastic insulation material.
The North American Fish Crow (common in the eastern United States) also feeds on crustaceans - including shrimp, fiddler crabs and crayfish. They will also take turtle eggs.
Both male and female build their open nests in trees or on cliffs. The nests are bulky, open structures, while the Jackdaw nests are constructed in holes in rocks, trees or building.
After laying 3 to 10 eggs, both parents care for the young; however, only the female incubates and broods the eggs. Some pair-bond for life.
Crows are exceptionally intelligent birds. Some species have a neostriatum (forebrain) of the same relative size as the chimpanzee and human. They have been known to:
- Use bread crumbs to bait fish. One Hooded Crow was observed shredding a piece of bread and dropping the crumbs into the water. This crow then stuck its head in the water and grabbed a fish. The smart crows have also used other methods to catch LIVE fish!
- Experiments showed that American Crows can count to three or four.
- Construct and use tools effectively; for example, the New Caledonian Crow has formed crude cutting tools from stiff leaves and stalks of grass; they have also been observed to drop very hard nuts into a street and wait for them to be crushed by passing cars.
- Hide and store food from one season to the next.
- Use past experiences to predict the behavior of those in their species.
- Differentiate one human from another by their faces and hold a grudge as well, remembering them for to three years! Field biologists noticed that crows were able to identify individuals that they consider to be a threat. The researchers trying to capture them for banding went as far as wearing masks to hide their identities.
- Crows are known for their fondness of shiny objects and is estimated that more than US $215 million dollars in coins are lost each year.
- Mob Mentality: Crows are often seen gathering in "mobs" to harass intruders or potential predators, such as cats and birds of prey.
- Establish the flock’s pecking order by “sparring” in mid-air.
Crows can mimic sounds made by other birds and animals. They can be taught to mimic the human voice, just like parrots.
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