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American Crow

Corvus brachyrhynchos

Conservation status Attempts at extermination in past have included dynamiting of winter roosts. However, the crow remains abundant, and is increasingly adapting to life in towns and even cities.
Family Crows, Magpies, Jays
Habitat Woodlands, farms, fields, river groves, shores, towns. Lives in a wide variety of semi-open habitats, from farming country and open fields to clearings in the woods. Often found on shores, especially where Fish Crow and Northwestern Crow do not occur. Avoids hot desert zones. Is adapting to towns and even cities, now often nesting in city parks.
Crows are thought to be among our most intelligent birds, and the success of the American Crow in adapting to civilization would seem to confirm this. Despite past attempts to exterminate them, crows are more common than ever in farmlands, towns, and even cities, and their distinctive caw! is a familiar sound over much of the continent. Sociable, especially when not nesting, crows may gather in communal roosts on winter nights, sometimes with thousands or even tens of thousands roosting in one grove.
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Feeding Behavior

Opportunistic, quickly taking advantage of new food sources. Feeds mostly on the ground, sometimes in trees. Scavenges along roads and at dumps. Will carry hard-shelled mollusks high in air and drop them on rocks to break them open. Indigestible parts of food are coughed up later as pellets.


Eggs

4-6, sometimes 3-9. Dull blue-green to gray-green, blotched with brown and gray. Incubation is probably mostly or entirely by female, about 18 days. Young: Fed by both parents and sometimes by "helpers." Young leave nest about 4-5 weeks after hatching.


Young

Fed by both parents and sometimes by "helpers." Young leave nest about 4-5 weeks after hatching.

Diet

Omnivorous. Seems to feed on practically anything it can find, including insects, spiders, snails, earthworms, frogs, small snakes, shellfish, carrion, garbage, eggs and young of other birds, seeds, grain, berries, fruit.


Nesting

In courtship on ground or in tree, male faces female, fluffs up body feathers, partly spreads wings and tail, and bows repeatedly while giving a short rattling song. Mated pairs perch close together, touching bills and preening each other's feathers. Breeding pair may be assisted by "helpers," their offspring from previous seasons. Nest site is in tree or large shrub, 10-70' above the ground, usually in vertical fork or at base of branch against trunk. Rarely nests on ground or on building ledge. Nest (built by both sexes) is a large bulky basket of sticks, twigs, bark strips, weeds, and mud, lined with softer material such as grass, moss, plant fibers, feathers.

Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds

Illustration © David Allen Sibley.
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Migration

Permanent resident in many areas; withdraws in fall from northern regions, and flocks spend the winter in some areas a short distance south of the breeding range.

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Migration

Permanent resident in many areas; withdraws in fall from northern regions, and flocks spend the winter in some areas a short distance south of the breeding range.

Songs and Calls
Familiar caw-caw or caa-caa.