Hear How a Crow Softly Woos Its Mate

The complex combination of coos, rattles, and growls is distinctive to each bird's social group.

This audio story is brought to you by BirdNote, a partner of the National Audubon Society. BirdNote episodes air daily on public radio stations nationwide.


This is BirdNote.

It’s been said that if someone knows only three birds, one of them will be the crow. It's common, easy to see, and even easier to hear. But it turns out, crow voices are very complicated. Altogether, crows may use 30 different sound elements in different combinations, and one of the most intriguing is their song. 

Unlike many birds, crows don’t sing loudly to attract mates from a distance. Instead, they sing softly—and at close range—during courtship, with a rich mix of soft cooing, rattles, growls, bowing movements, and mutual nuzzling. 

And a crow’s song is particular to its social group. Studies of captive groups showed that each group develops distinctive sound elements that become a kind of cultural tradition—a dialect—which crows use to recognize one another.

So even if someone knows only three birds, as long as one of them is the crow, there will always be something new to learn.

For BirdNote, I'm Michael Stein. 



Bird sounds provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. American Crow calling [100700]; song / 'coo-ing': http://miracleofnature.org/blog/american-crow-cooing] recorded by W L Hershberger. nuzzling and coo-ing [82044} recorded by Eleanor D Brown.

BirdNote’s theme music was composed and played by Nancy Rumbel and John Kessler.

Producer: John Kessler

Executive Producer: Dominic Black

Written by Bob Sundstrom

Narrator: Michael Stein

© 2015 Tune In to Nature.org  May 2018 


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