Photo: Glenn Bartley/Vireo

Northwestern Crow

Corvus caurinus

Along the immediate coast in the Pacific Northwest lives this smaller, hoarse-voiced version of the American Crow. Typically associated with tidewater, it raids seabird colonies for unattended eggs, explores tidepools for stranded marine creatures, scavenges on the beach along with gulls. It is often hard to tell Northwestern and American crows apart where their ranges meet; they may interbreed, and some observers believe they are merely forms of the same species.
Conservation status Common within its range, numbers probably stable.
Family Crows, Magpies, Jays
Habitat Near tidewater, shores. Generally found close to the immediate coastline. Often along open beaches, rocky shores, tidal estuaries, coastal ponds, inshore islands. Also forages in woods and fields close to shore. Only occasionally moves to fields several miles inland.
Along the immediate coast in the Pacific Northwest lives this smaller, hoarse-voiced version of the American Crow. Typically associated with tidewater, it raids seabird colonies for unattended eggs, explores tidepools for stranded marine creatures, scavenges on the beach along with gulls. It is often hard to tell Northwestern and American crows apart where their ranges meet; they may interbreed, and some observers believe they are merely forms of the same species.
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  • adult
Feeding Behavior

Forages mostly while walking on ground or in very shallow water; also sometimes forages in trees. May concentrate at salmon runs along with other birds. Flies up into the air carrying mussels, and drops them on rocks to break them open. May store food on territory and retrieve it later.


Eggs

4-5. Dull blue-green to gray-green, blotched with brown and gray. Incubation is by female only, about 18 days. Young: Fed by both parents, and sometimes by one-year-old "helpers." Age when young leave the nest not well known, probably close to 4 weeks.


Young

Fed by both parents, and sometimes by one-year-old "helpers." Age when young leave the nest not well known, probably close to 4 weeks.

Diet

Omnivorous. Seems to feed on anything it can find in its habitat, including fish, crabs, shellfish, carrion, garbage, various insects, berries, nuts, seeds, and birds' eggs (especially in seabird colonies).


Nesting

Usually solitary in nesting, not in colonies. Offspring from previous year may remain on nesting territory of adult pair; these "helpers" assist in mobbing predators, may or may not assist with feeding the nestlings. Nest site is usually in fork of tree or shrub; sometimes placed on the ground (sheltered by rocks) on islands. Nest (built by both sexes) is a bulky platform of sticks, bark, plant fibers, and mud, lined with softer material such as grass, animal fur, and rootlets.

Illustration © David Allen Sibley.
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Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds

Migration

Permanent resident. Smaller crows sometimes seen along Oregon coast in winter may or may not be this form.

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Migration

Permanent resident. Smaller crows sometimes seen along Oregon coast in winter may or may not be this form.

Songs and Calls
Calls resemble those of the American Crow, but are somewhat hoarse.
Audio © Lang Elliott, Bob McGuire, Kevin Colver, Martyn Stewart and others.
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